Sustainability Awareness Workshop


– Getting creative instead of trashing items –

Single-use packaging is intended to be used only once before being thrown away or recycled. Included in this kind of trash would be food packaging, bottles for laundry detergent and other household goods, straws and boxes for tea bags, etc  From a global perspective, over 90% of trash is estimated to come from single-use materials. The good news in some countries is that over 50% of packaging is recycled.

The upside-down pyramid for waste shows the more preferred ways to deal with it.

When it comes to waste, the best option is preventing the waste from coming into our homes or office buildings, the 2nd best option is to reuse items somehow, and then comes recycling. Increasing awareness in your team is important – of being more responsible with their purchasing choices and choices regarding trash that passes through their homes or at the office. This workshop can improve awareness of how to reuse items instead of discarding them.

Participating in this workshop will show participants how to look at packaging trash from the perspective of reusing it, and creating a new purpose for single-use packaging. You can open the workshop by reflecting on trash and recycling in your city/location and how they could all help to improve those statistics by being more mindful of the items they bring into their homes (avoiding single-use packaging as much as possible) and also to not be so fast to throw away items that had only been used once at the office.

If you are passionate about having a positive impact on the sustainability habits and thinking of others in your organization, in your family, or among friends, why not get 4-6 people to join you in being creative with packaging that would have otherwise been discarded.

Items you can use in the workshop:

Most households would be easily able to collect some items like small carton boxes and items, printed pages that are no longer needed like advertising leaflets thrown in through mailbox slots, and paper-based packaging used for supporting fruits purchased in supermarkets. In the office, there could be boxes that contained pens and pencils or paperclips.

Two ideas to consider for the activity:

Paper Mache (papier-mâché)

You can make the paste using flour and water (see https://kinderart.com/kitchen/papier-mache-recipes/) tear the collected sheets of paper into strips about 1 inch wide and dip them thoroughly into the paste mixture. Strip off the excess mixture from each strip before applying it. It works well if you pull the strip of paper through to the other side between two fingers. Build up the desired new object by applying only one layer at a time and waiting for that to dry before going to a new layer. Dried objects can be sanded to improve the smoothness of the finished project before you apply an environmentally friendly paint design on top. Ideas of items that might be useful include containers for jewelry, organizing loose containers into a neatly contained area, or creating a container for paperclips and other office items that could be cluttering up desk drawers.

Coffee Stirrers

Make sure the used stirring sticks are free of coffee remains that could interfere with the gluing process.  Design ideas could include coasters for cups, glasses, or mugs at the office or at home. You could also build containers for pens or other office supplies. Remember to wait until the glue had dried before putting items on your built items to avoid breakage! And again you might use environmentally friendly paints to finish your coffee stirrer design items.

To limit the space and supplies needed for your workshop team activity, it may be wise to pick one type of project to work on vs trying to cover several types of projects in one space.

Workshop Programme

Welcome, and introductions – if not all participants know each other, allow time for everyone to introduce themselves.

Overview – talk about the reason for the workshop and focus participant attention on sustainability and how sustainability principles relate to the way we think about and how we deal with the packaging associated with purchases. Give them some trash generation and recycling statistics for your local area to help them understand the scale of the issues faced environmentally with how things are going in your area. Introduce the workshop as a way to become more aware and get creative with packaging waste that comes from homes and offices. Creative activities in groups are also great ways to improve the mental health of individuals and feelings of belonging in a team or group.

Activity – introduce the chosen activity and explain the materials available to participants. Make sure people know how much time you have planned for the activity and if there will be follow-up opportunities to complete projects or whether they could take any half-finished projects home to finish them there. Walk around while participants work on their projects and support them with advice where needed. Always make sure that safety is a priority and be sure to explain any dangers such as using cutting devices or opening and closing drawers and cupboard doors in the workshop area.

Closing – when the workshop time is at the end. Thank everyone for participating and being willing to learn new ways of looking at single-use packaging as small steps to help improve the generation of trash in your area. Remind participants of how they could finish up their projects and encourage them to share pictures of completed items with the team/group.

Awareness

The first step to improving any situation is awareness. This kind of team or group activity is a great way to increase awareness of the issues at hand with local trash generation and how each person can make a difference in small ways. Using creative endeavors to address this issue is also enjoyable and can be a great way to improve feelings of mental well-being, which is something we all can use in today’s world.

Smarter after Covid


Finding better ways forward

Before Covid most companies with international interests had several people flying and traveling to other offices and locations to attend meetings, lead initiatives, or train others. While most of us have pretty much remained “grounded” in our countries without the option to travel, company activities continued (as far as it was possible). Something seems more obvious now than perhaps in 2019: We are getting pretty good at training, meeting and mentoring remotely using technology and internet connections. Yet, when we can, will we continue previous practices of sending our leaders and experts to remote locations on a regular basis like we did before? It is said that Ireland lowered carbon emissions by at least 6% during 2020 and some companies have seen business travel costs more than halved over 2020!

Some challenges that companies try to address by flying in leaders and experts from HQ:

  • We do not have people in all locations with the right experience and skills and HQ experts are needed to support local teams on a regular basis.
  • We are not exactly sure what the true status of projects are and we would feel more comfortable having one of our trusted staff regularly visit remote locations.
  • We are not sure that local people understand our strategies and truly commit to realizing performance targets, which means someone needs to visit with them on a regular basis to ensure they do understand our strategies and then review with them how their efforts support these.
  • We are finding it tough to source local people with the right skills and experiences and those we can find are too expensive in terms of compensation expectations.
  • The local people speak a different language and their English language skills are not great, which makes it hard to know for sure what they are trying to convey during our calls. We need to see the project/work to understand more clearly what is really happening there.
  • The local people may not be forthcoming with bad news relating to projects in remote locations and they may possibly favor being cordial over risking our dismay.

The list is not exhaustive, but it does highlight some of the opportunities to find better ways going forward to avoid going back to the level of business travel we previously considered normal.

The term Glocal means to Think Global and Act Local and it is said that Akio Morita of Sony Corporation was the first person to use the term which became popular in the business world in the 1990s. How to think about the big picture and over-arching strategies goals and still be sensitive to local conditions and needs when you implement those big picture ideas? A balance would have to be created and it would be an ever-adjusting type of balance which is not fixed in place. To incorporate (for example) shifts in local legislation or new diversification strategies from HQ. Finding a way to keep this balance in place may lower the need to return to pre-covid business travel levels.

There are at least three ways to address this:
  1. Focus leadership development in a few key areas,
  2. Better teams – adjusting selection and development of staff, and
  3. Better use of technology – making more use of technologies to facilitate remote collaboration.

Better leadership

Having the judgment, problem-solving and decision-making skills to navigate in the space where one has to constantly balance global strategies and goals with local situations and conditions means leaders have to be comfortable with ambiguity, be constantly on the look-out and actively engaged in learning new skills and understanding how others have succeeded or failed in addressing what lies before the leader. Learning how to proactively include all team members including those who are “different” and to do this successfully leaders at HQ and remote locations need to understand their own biases and stereotyping. This will ensure that the skills of the entire team is leveraged in achieving performance goals. Lastly, leaders also need to have the ability to easily shift their perspective from global thinking to local acting and back in order to maintain the balance needed for the decision they need to make at that moment.

Better teams

Working on a diverse team with some team members in remote locations is something we have learned to do successfully over the last year. And this new skill has brought opportunities to get better results through teamwork without having to be present in an office or with the entire team. Will we ask – does this person have to be in the office every day of the week? Or will we consider hiring talent where we find it without feeling he or she needs to be relocated to HQ in order to be an effective member of our team?

To help existing teams be more inclusive and effective some specific or additional training may be needed around diversity. This training can include developing an improved understanding of cultural differences and perspective differences (for example among provinces or states in a country). It often comes down to increasing awareness of own biases and stereotypes that may have settled in our perspectives about groups of people who are very different from our own backgrounds.

Recruiters and hiring managers also have to start including additional skills in requisitions to fill vacancies. Skills like additional language skills – not only English – experience such as having lived and/or worked in a country other than their home countries.

When creating teams to work on performance improvement projects (action teams) – why not include people from different functions, locations and cultures on the team? It is a great way to increase your internal network of employees collaborating and communicating across locations.

All of these aspects can help a team become more global-minded and inclusive while making smarter choices working on local projects which impact broader strategies or targets in the company.

Use technology

In addition to tools for video-conferencing, there are tools which can help monitor progress or quality without having to travel to a location.

1. Hololens2: click this link to see short video of what it can do across various industries – there are ways for clients and HQ personnel to connect with someone using this technology at a remote location.

2. Realwear: click this link to see a short video of how it can be used to get input and advice from a person located remotely.

3. Some locations use drones to get an understanding of general progress on large construction projects and provide overall updates to managers at HQ. Drones can also be used to inspect hard-to-reach places safely.

4. Use a centralized electronic storage solution for files meaning all local files can easily be viewed from remote locations without needing to travel to a site.


While working smarter in these ways is also a way to lower pre-covid GHG and carbon emissions, many employees appreciate the flexibility of remote working options and combined with lower business travel needs it adds to having a better work-life balance. The amount of quality time spent with families and friends has also increased for most. All of which adds greatly to employee well-being. Looking for ways to leverage what we have learned by having to work remotely during 2020 can benefit companies and employees in greater ways than we may be able to realize now.