Sustainability tips for businesses from the crew at the zoo

24 March 2015

If you missed our Sustainability 101 event at Wellington Zoo, read on to find out some of the take-away learnings. And in case you’ve been wondering, we reveal how kangaroos can save the world.

Thank you to the wonderful crew at Wellington Zoo for hosting an engaging and lively evening on 17th March in the stunning venue at Kamala’s.

For those who weren’t able to make it, here are some top tips on how to embed sustainability into your business’ culture:

  1. Set expectations.
    You don’t have to have a grand master plan all figured out. Just get started with the low-hanging fruit and keep on your journey. A good way to get started is to check out our Pathway to Sustainability resource: pathwaytosustainability.org.nz.
  2. Add sustainability into all job descriptions.
    Sustainability works more effectively when it’s a part of everyone’s job, rather than the responsibility of one or two within the organisation.
  3. Introduce sustainability inductions for new team members.
  4. Engage your team.
    Get their input and ideas.
  5. Identify your sustainability champions. 
    Task them with promoting and encouraging sustainable practices around your office.
  6. Celebrate your successes.
    Your business may already be undertaking many initiatives that become so much ‘part of the furniture’ that you forget how they’re making a difference. A great way to get recognition for your successes is to enter the NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards, which is free.
  7. Tell your stories – internally and externally, everywhere and to everyone.
    Tell your team, your customers and other businesses. If you’re an SBN member let us know about your successes so we can share them in our newsletter and social media.

Feedback from some attendees:

Trilogy

“We left the event buzzing – we took pages and pages of notes between us and couldn’t wait to get in to work this morning to talk about it. It was really inspiring to spend time in a room with so many like-minded businesses and to be reminded that leadership can come from any quarters. 

This morning, we’ve grabbed some low-hanging fruit:

  • We go through a dozen bags of coffee a fortnight, so instead of getting it in with our supermarket order, we’ve contacted People’s Coffee to find a way of sourcing it direct from them – saves transport miles, supports local and supports a business ethically aligned with us.
  • We’ve contacted Yealands Wines to supply wine for our Friday night drinks directly, again cutting out the supermarket loop and supporting a business aligned with our values.
  • We’ve instituted a compost bucket in the kitchen for lunch scraps and we’re collecting our used coffee grounds for one of our staff’s garden.
  • We’ve added sustainability as an agenda item to our weekly team meeting and instead of assigning a person’s name as responsible for providing the information, we’ve assigned ‘All’ so that it’s an inclusive topic for everyone.

Arrow Uniforms

“Thanks so much for organising last night’s event.  Having it at Wellington Zoo and the zoo staff being so open about sharing their sustainability journey was so valuable to us.  It was great to hear their ups and downs, get insights into how they made it a ‘community’ focus and got everyone on board. They made it seem far less daunting. We came away believing ‘we can do this’ and we are excited about getting started.”

Thunderpants

We really enjoyed it thanks, and I doubly appreciated being able to take a colleague as he is now starting to think more about the whole sustainability issue….which is absolutely what the idea is 🙂 

A J Park

Thank you for facilitating it. Very enjoyable. Already looking at sugar cane paper!

Finally ….

If you’ve been wondering what kangaroos have to go with it, all will now be revealed…. 

The secret lies in their …er… farts. Like cattle, kangaroos graze pastures and digest the vegetation in a similar way, yet their farts contain far less methane – in fact 80% less per food unit. Since cattle, sheep and other ruminants are the source of up to a quarter of the world’s methane emissions (a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide) this finding is significant.

A new study by Australian researchers sheds light on the functioning of bacteria in kangaroos’ stomachs. They hope that the findings will help scientists alter cow diets to make their farts low-methane. So kangaroos could be key to helping reduce climate change. Why not visit them at Wellington Zoo?

Thank you to Wellington Zoo for hosting the event and for sharing their sustainability experiences with us. Thank you also to Yealands and All Good for the lovely drinks.