4 June, 2019

World Environment Day

Fairtrade Canada
by Gabriela Warrior Renaud

We’ve got a tiny (but mighty!) team here at Fairtrade Canada, but because of the nature of the work we do, we all carry an intrinsic understanding of the impacts that humans and industry have on our environment.  

That is why our team has worked to do our part to lessen those impacts in our office and create a workplace culture that is always striving to leave as little trace as we can.

On World Environment Day, we’re asking ourselves: how does Fairtrade Canada work to achieve this goal? Here are a few ways we’re trying to reduce our impact:

We use alternative modes of transport

  • The Fairtrade Canada office is located in beautiful downtown Ottawa, at a convenient spot close to the transitway, the O-Train and several bike paths.
  • PippaSome members of our team live close enough to the office to walk, while others take public transport or bike. It’s becoming a beloved tradition for our team to join the Bike to Work Month challenge every May. It’s also not uncommon to see a pair of skis in the entrance of our office during winter months!

Here's what Pippa says about being green at work:
"I love biking to work not only because is it an amazing way to start the day but also because I feel good knowing that I am minimizing my carbon footprint. It's one small commitment I can make in my day-to-day that contributes to a global movement fighting for the environment."

We are turning our office green

  • We use reusable K-Cups for our Keurig coffee machine and have started a composting program for our used coffee grounds.
  • We re-fill our dish soap at Terra20’s ecobar and buy natural and sustainable options for our kitchen and office cleaning supplies.
  • We’re pretty serious about turning off the lights when we leave our offices, the kitchen, and our board room!

RobHere's what Robert says about being green at work:
"Bringing a home-made lunch to work every day is a great way to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that are often thrown away after buying snacks or lunch out. At the end of the day I take any waste (tea bags included!) home to compost. It’s a small, yet effective way to reduce the amount of single-use materials that end up in the garbage."

We put on our sustainability hat when planning our marketing strategies

  • While we know that physical materials are a great way to help spread the message about Fairtrade, we are utilising a digital-first approach for our campaigns.
  • We encourage retailers, grassroots organisations and campaigners to reuse their Fairtrade material and try to design materials to have a long shelf life.
  • When planning to print materials, we look for sustainable options. We work with local printers, and when we can, we choose recycled papers, natural inks, and request minimal packaging of our materials.
  • Selfie WallIf you were able to join us at the last Fairtrade Awards ceremony in March, then you would have noticed our selfie wall, made entirely of recycled cardboard! We worked with Montreal-based company Kübbii to create long-lasting, sustainable displays that will be making an appearance at future Fairtrade events.

Here's what Cara says about being green at work:
"We recently did an overhaul of our storage space, and we found that we have lots of packaging materials (such as cardboard boxes or slats) that just need a little tweak here and there in order to re-use them to send out packages. Sometimes it may look like we are just collecting garbage, however, it is a rewarding challenge to balance the 3 R’s while keeping a tidy, uncluttered space that contributes to the functionality and a calm, respectful, and collaborative working environment."

SkisHere's what Helen says about being green at work:
“For me, being green at work is all about intention. Our commercial team makes conscious decisions when planning meetings, like ensuring we have electronic handouts instead of printed resources, taking the train whenever possible instead of flying, and making good use of conference calls to alleviate our carbon footprint. On a personal note, I always take reusable cups when I travel, I think about packaging when looking for lunch options around the office, and, of course, I support Fairtrade businesses, like buying Fairtrade cotton shoes. Oh, and that’s a photo of my skis in the entrance of our office!”

For us, these sustainable practices go hand-in-hand with the work we do. One of the three pillars of Fairtrade sustainability is environmental, including standards that protect natural resources, promote organic farming, and ban the use of dangerous pesticides.

Green Office

If you are looking for a way to start the conversation about sustainability in your office, why not look into becoming a Fair Trade Workplace? The Fair Trade Workplace designation encourages your team to be mindful of the true value of labour and the cost of production, and nudges people to consider the impact an ever-changing climate reality has on those who make our favorite drinks, foods, and clothes possible. And it acknowledges that solidarity between workers everywhere is an important step towards a more just world.