SBN: Walking the Talk

27 January 2015

SBN believes authentic behaviour and consistency in what we do for sustainability is critical. So each year we encourage all our staff to make some personal sustainability commitments – our own New Year sustainability resolutions.

Our commitment to practising and demonstrating sustainability in action is clear through the work that SBN carries out but we also expect the same from our team.Here’s a selection of the actions we’ve committed to for 2015. Perhaps they will inspire you to make some of your own.

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Healthy workplace

A healthy workplace is an important place to start, and we do what we can to ensure our offices are healthy places in which to work (if you’ve visited our Auckland office you’ll know that the three flights of stairs help!). Critically we encourage staff to focus on their own health and safety, which is so important for anyone who works in an office environment.

Our commitments for 2015 include staff cycling or walking to work and to meetings; keeping up to date with First Aid training; exercising regularly (running, walking, swimming, yoga, soccer and Pilates are our top picks),; eating healthily; having walking meetings; and going on walks at lunchtimes instead of working through.

SBN in the community

We encourage our staff to participate in at least one practical community activity each year, and between us we’ve come up with a long list of diverse activities. Top of the list is tree planting, but our other activities include mentoring small businesses and students, helping immigrants integrate into the community, managing restoration projects, and volunteering our time – at schools, with NGOs and with children’s sport.

Valuing our people

We try to ensure that each member of the SBN team has an active learning programme and a healthy work-life balance. Between us we’ve committed to attending a mix of SBN and other learning events, as well as undertaking further study – for example in sustainable landscape design and sustainable marketing. We also have a ‘Time Off In Lieu’ policy to make sure we don’t get burnt out after busy periods

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Smart Transport

We encourage our staff to use sustainable transport options and to facilitate this our head office is located in Britomart, Auckland’s public transport hub. We’ve all committed to using public transport, cycling and walking where possible, and a couple of us are now carless. We also allow staff to work from home to reduce the need for travel.

Those of us with kids actively encourage them to walk, scoot, ride or use public transport to visit friends and to get to school.

Each year we measure CO2 emissions from our work-related travel and offset these, then making a donation to the Million Metres Streams programme.

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All our purchases are made according to our Purchasing Policy, which takes into account factors such as organic, Fairtrade, recycled and sustainability certifications. We also use SBN members for our suppliers wherever possible. First of all, however, we try to minimise, reuse or recycle to avoid making purchases in the first place.

At a personal level our commitments include buying more organic foods, growing more veges at home, reusing waste paper, operating a paperless desk, purchasing second hand items rather than new, buying NZ designed and made, hosting meetings at  SBN member cafés, and buying member products and services where possible.


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Waste Management

In the office our waste management programme works towards a zero waste target to landfill. This means we reduce, reuse and recycle, and take home our food scraps for composting. We are working on a plan now to get composting throughout the building we are in. We also participate in plastic-free July, which is a great way of raising awareness about the quantity of unnecessary plastic we consume.

Our personal commitments include running worm farms and composting at home (and in one case asking the neighbours to include their waste too), reusing containers for take-aways, recycling, aiming to use just one small rubbish bag at home per week for the whole family, and avoiding plastic packaging where possible.

Energy Reduction

In our office we’re committed to energy conservation and reduction, and aim to reduce our energy use by 10%. We also measure and offset our CO2 emissions, and this year we’ll be offsetting 4.84 tonnes of CO2 to account for our 2014 emissions.

Our personal energy reduction commitments include avoiding use of the car where possible, using solar panels, installing a solar hot water system, reducing the depths of children’s baths to conserve energy, buying thermal curtains to reduce heat loss, and teaching the whole family to turn off lights and appliances when not in use. 


Finally, we aspire to demonstrating sustainable practice at all our events and communications, for example: selecting venues that allow for public transport, walking or cycling; choosing sustainable caterers; using SBN members or sustainable suppliers for any purchasing needs; recognising local Iwi at formal occasions; encouraging sustainable behaviour at events; and incorporating zero waste management plans.

We promote our members and the sustainability learnings arising from events, and we use digital – rather than print – communications as much as possible.

Some of our personal commitments include using public transport or walking to attend events, only using reusable cups at events, and taking food waste home from events to compost.

The close alignment between our office policies and personal values means that there’s a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to SBN among our staff, and this makes for a great office environment. These sustainability commitments make good business sense. As well as bringing us financial benefits, such as saving money by using fewer resources, they create a happier, healthier team.  

We hope these commitments have given you some inspiration or even some ideas.  We’d love to know if you’ve taken on any sustainability commitments of your own, either at home or at work. Let us know at