Going green at work

Our work as communications professionals exposes us to a myriad of variegated jobs. Sometimes we get to work on extraordinary projects, completely out of comfort zones and from which we learn so much about our own professions that also impact our personal lives. 

One such project for me was working on GRI reporting for a very large organisation. Besides learning to work with teams world-wide, I learnt something invaluable: sustainable practices from all over the world, including from my own hometown, Sikkim. Working on this changed the way I thought about many things, including myself. Growing up was always between a village and a small community area. But wherever we lived, my dad always grew his own kitchen garden and throughout the year, we consumed home-grown vegetables and fruits. Never really understood the merit of it, till I started to work on the project.

In Karnataka the vegetable is called, strangely, ‘Chow Chow’, but in Nepali its called Ishkus. It’s a special one for us in Sikkim. The vegetable itself is not my favourite but you will find it being consumed in most houses. What I like is the tendrils and the shoots. Most people like the flowers. Seasonally, the plant dries up, right in time for ‘Makar Sankrati’, when traditionally we eat only root vegetables. We dig up where the Ishkus plant had been and there, under the earth, my favourite root vegetable which we call ‘jara’ meaning simply ‘roots’. The left over vegetables are cut into thin slices and dried in the sun, so that we can eat them throughout the year in soups and steaks. This vegetable is nature’s way to talk to us about ‘Zero-waste’. 

Striving towards zero-waste? Here are some easy, adaptable ways to do it at work:

Stop sending ‘unactionable’ unnecessary mails

I read an interesting article last week which urged people to stop sending ‘thank you’ mails to reduce personal carbon footprint. 

“That’s according to new research, which reveals Britons send more than 64 million unnecessary emails every day which result in nearly 23,500 tonnes of carbon a year. Such unactionable one or two-word pleasantries include ‘thank you’ and ‘thanks’ which top the list, followed by ‘have a good weekend’, ‘received’ and ‘appreciated’.” And ‘LOL’.

Use recycled 

Recycled paper is easily available and some of them look great. You could also use your one sided print-outs to make a rough notebooks so that you can reuse them. One of the great ways to DIY recycle paper is to make papier mache products, which when molded and painted are sturdy and look great. If done well, newspapers can be used for gift-wrapping!


Before you print a document think, ‘Is a print-out absolutely necessary?’ And if the answer is yes, make sure to reduce the font size which can save a lot of paper. Don’t forget to print both sides. 

Make digital notes

While totally fond of stationery, I have taken to making digital notes. So much so that now I can write a full article, such as these on ‘notes’ in my iPhone and ‘OneNote’ in my laptop. The advantage of a digital note is that it’s easy to share over mails/ messages. Of course we can always take a photo of a physical note but I have noticed that all handwritings are not legible. Although I must admit I love notebooks and most of my personal ones are made with recycled paper. 

Turn to E-books

As a reader, I love books. Like everyone who loves books, I am also into the smell, the feel and the look. However, there was a time in my life when reading became all-consuming, I found it difficult to carry my books around and reading at the quietness of the night seemed impossible. So eight years ago, I downloaded my first e-book app Kobo. Then I switched to Kindle. Although I do buy an occasional book, Kindle is my thing now. It’s easy to switch between books, find the passage I want to re-read or tweet a line when I want to. E-books are convenient, user and environment-friendly.

Power off 

As humans, natural light is necessary to regulate our circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycle), which is one reason to try and be as close to natural light as possible. The other benefit of it is, you keep the power off. Switch off lights and laptops when not needed, to save electricity.

Keep green plants at the desk 

Looks pretty, gives your eye a break from the screen and is great for the environment. Need I say more?

I love the saying, ‘Look after the planet, it’s the only one we’ve got.’ Let’s try for zero waste.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

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Ira Pradhan
Ira is a Corporate Communications Leader with experience in Healthcare, Consumer Electronics, IT, Retail and the Automotive industry. She hails from the small and beautiful state of Sikkim and considers herself a complete Mountain Girl.

In a career spanning over a decade as a communications expert, she has championed and led programs on several sustainable business practices, diversity and inclusion programs.

She loves to read literature, and books on management and development in technology and economics. She mentors young women students & entrepreneurs in her home state, Sikkim.

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