Sustainability at the Office

25 06 2007


Kemp Edwards doesn’t work in a particularly sustainable industry. He’s the International Sales Manager for Arson & Orb, a popular clothing company outfitting the style-conscious outdoor set, and they aren’t exactly using hemp in their manufacturing if you know what I mean. 

But after a steady simmer of environmental interest, Kemp’s awareness hit a personal tipping point and he decided that he wanted to start making a difference outside of his own personal habits. Understanding that he was somewhat limited in immediately affecting the overall practices in the manufacturing and shipping of the clothes he presided over, he decided to start from the inside, leading the environmental charge at Arson & Orb’s head office.  

Kemp started off with the basics including switching all of the light bulbs in the office to energy saver bulbs and mandating that all printing be done on both sides of the sheet as well as using the toner saver setting. With a few more policies in place, it didn’t take long before his coworkers started to buy in. “I have started to notice that people have begun turning off lights in rooms that aren’t in use, the fans are being turned off in the bathrooms rather than left to run all day, people are recycling more than ever, re-using sheets of paper that misprinted, not cranking up the heat and leaving the door open etc. Also, it doesn’t take long to see the cost benefits of a lot of these practices. Printing on both sides of the sheet, for example, basically halves your paper costs.”  

Kemp’s interest soon evolved into a sustainability committee which he now leads and has generated enthusiasm from senior management. What started out as an internal project has now flowed over into the business practices of the company. “We’ve mandated that all of the factories that we work with must use low density polyethylene polybags bags and our preference is for a minimum of 10% post consumer content. We’re also in the process of reducing packaging by half on all clothing shipments from Spring 08 onwards.”

Kemp says that this is just the beginning of sustainable practices for Arson&Orb. “The committee is more than a trend, it’s an avenue to start to drive more environmentally responsible decision making within the company. We understand that sustainability is not just a fad; it’s forward thinking.” 

Kemp’s passion proves that small changes on the office front can lead to bigger ones on the business front. Gil Yaron, Owner of, a sustainable office supply retailer has seen his business increase 700% since last year. He attributes a lot of this growth to the individual in the office who champions environmental sustainability. “It just takes that one person who is passionate about making changes. The trickle effect can turn into a tidal wave of change as office policies turn into business practices.” 

Kemp knows Arson & Orb has a long road ahead of them; “We are in no way leading the way in our environmental push, but we are committed to positive change. An unexpected bonus is the boost to staff morale and the overall feeling that we are moving in the right direction.” 

Here’s a full list of Kemp’s office initiatives that you can take to your own:  

  1. Switched over all light bulbs in the office to energy saver bulbs
  2. Replaced our warehouse lights to something more energy efficient
  3. Recycle all paper towel in the bathrooms
  4. We have greatly reduced paper consumption by mandating that all printing be done in duplex (both sides of the sheet) in black and white and on the toner saver setting.
  5. We have made a commitment to only purchasing environmentally friendly products whenever possible (ie: recycled paper towel, 7th generation cleaning products etc…)
  6. We have organized car pools and bike to work programs for our staff.  
  7. Implemented the “Lug-a-Mug” Challenge – a donation is required for every time you arrive to the office with a paper coffee cup. These donations will be used to purchase carbon offset ‘points’ at the end of the fiscal year.



Final Showcase Showdown.

6 06 2007

Did you know that Bob Barker taped his last installment of the Price is Right today? 83 year old Barker has been hosting the show for 35 years and for 35 years he’s been signing off with his trademark “help control the pet population; have your pets spayed or neutered.” But little did I know why. Turns out Bob is a vegetarian and at his request the PIR never advertised meat products and stopped giving away fur coats! In the day and age where celebrities are glorified for obscene spending, taking drugs or collecting DUI’s like stamps, it’s encouraging to see guys like Bob with values that influence a little goodness in the crazy world of Hollywood. Nice moves Bob! (And PS – I always wanted to play that game with the mountain goat that yodels.)

Cool! The 100 Mile Diet Author blogged my question!

5 06 2007


It is true – I am a blog geek and an enviro geek to boot. So when I read the 100 Mile Diet and emailed the authors a burning question I was richly rewarded with an answer! Yeah!

I’ve cut and paste the post but you can view the original plus the 100 mile blog here……………..

Mailbag: Distant Soy or 100-Mile Cow’s Milk?

JUNE 4, 2007–Emily wrote in with a tough puzzle, rather like having to figure out who would win a fight: a polar bear, a killer whale, a lion or a black mamba? There are a thousand variables to take into account, and it all depends on your environment. For instance, a killer whale beats a lion in the water, but on land? Not so much. Soy versus milk has its own difficulties.

Emily of Vancouver wrote:

I am a sustainable event planner and my mandate is to be as sustainable as possible but I’m stumped around the ecological footprint of milk vs. non-dairy alternatives. Which has the lesser footprint – local organic milk, or no-cow soymilk? I can’t find any information on whether the popular Canadian soy brands use Canadian soy beans in their manufacturing.

When I researched the possibility of eating soy for the 100-Mile Diet, I called a bunch of Vancouver tofu companies. All got their beans from Manitoba, Ontario or Quebec. I would suspect soy milk to be the same, but you would need to call these companies to find out. It’s unfortunately true that this type of information is not readily available. We’ll have to show them we care so they start to make that information public.

The ecological footprint issue does become tricky – if local, organically raised cows are grazing on natural pastures, in many ways that is a small ecological footprint – though complicated by whether or not that land could have been used to feed more people by growing other vegetable crops for direct human consumption.

Soy shipped from thousands of miles to the east has its own environmental costs – but if you are vegan for animal-rights reasons, that is not a moral stance I would seek to change. So, if you go for soy . . . just make sure it’s organic, and not GM (genetically modified). Canada was the world’s third-largest producer of GM crops in the world (though the main crop here is canola) in 2003, according to a University of Richmond study. As a starting point, Vancouver-based So Nice uses certified organic and non-GM soy.

You could always try growing your own beans! In the Union Square farmers market in New York, we saw soy products made locally from beans grown within 100 miles, and we were intensely jealous. In our region, Saltspring Seeds sells soy seeds, though I don’t know if they would work for milk purposes – I would recommend talking to the knowledgeable staff there. It would be interesting to experiment with seeds from eastern Canada or Japan. We can all be agricultural Robin Hoods – by helping to preserve natural heirloom seeds against the technological onslaught. -ADS

Join the Fight Against Climate Change Skeptics

28 05 2007


A well funded group of front groups and organizations are working around the clock to cause confusion and perpetuate mis-information around the science of global warming. Using the same tactics that were employed by tobacco companies in the nineties to distort the link between health issues and smoking, these skeptics cast doubt on scientific facts by highly politicizing the issue and challenging the truth with confusing rhetoric and inaccurate statements on climate science.

At least 30 scientific socieites and academies of science, including all of the national academies of science of the major industrialized countries, as well as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agree that global warming is a huge threat to the planet and that humans are causing it through increasing greenhouse gas emissions. 

The DeSmogBlog exists to clear the confusion that these front groups sow and sets the record straight around the reporting of global warming, by exposing the inner workings of these organizations including where their funding comes from and their motivation for subverting the truth. The blog is referenced by major news outlets around the world and is considered a credible source on global warming by organizations like Greenpeace, Grist Magazine and Expose Exxon. A critical component in the fight against global warming skeptics the DeSmogBlog has recently embarked on a fund-raising campaign to be able to deepen their efforts in Canada, the US and world wide. Please click here to donate and be a part of the campaign to expose the skeptics and win the battle against global warming.


23 05 2007


I just started ordering all of my office supplies from My business card holder is made from 100% recylcled content (38% post consumer), my file folders are 100% post consumer recylced, and I just bought bulk Seventh Generation TP and cleaning products at a great price. Delivery is free over $50 and the site is very easy to use. It’s incredible how much we use in our daily that can be replaced with a greener proudct without noticing a difference. Who knew filing could be so good for the environment!

Bring Back the Bill, Steve.

15 05 2007


Last October when the Federal Government introduced Bill C-30 addressing climate change, it was largely seen as inadequate and lacking any real action. On the advice of Jack Layton, the PM allowed the bill to be re-written by a newly created legislative committee which rose to the challenge creating a set of new recommendations. These recommendations include ‘absolute caps on greenhouse gas emissions’ to Kyoto levels as well as tough regulations around vehicle fuel consumption bench-marked by international best practices.

The bill now sits on the table waiting for the Conservative government to bring it back to the house for a vote. If they don’t the bill will die and Canada will continue to lag behind the rest of the world in environmental action, innovation and leadership.

Voters Taking Action on Climate Change (VTACC) has created a post card campaign to send a message to the Conservative Government that Canadians want to see this bill brought before the house for a vote quickly. Click here for more information on the campaign and how to participate and send a message to Steve letting him know how you feel about his inaction.

Brush Your Teeth With……Yogurt?!

14 05 2007

toothbrush.jpgMy toothbrush begged for me to put it out of it’s misery the other day so I found myself contemplating the waste that would present itself by tossing out that tired, electric pink, piece of plastic. That thinking took me to my local organic retailer, Capers, where I found a toothbrush by Recycline made from 100% recycled plastics derived from Stonyfield farm yogurt containers. The sleek design was developed by dentists and engineers and the minute I used it I felt transformed and rejuvinated! OK, maybe not that good but there’s absolutely no difference in brushing my teeth and the price is right on par with drugstore brands.  A bonus – the case that it comes in is made from a hard plastic and doubles as a travel case. The best part of the kit is that both case and brush consider their life cycles. If you go to Recycline’s website you can download a pre-paid postage PDF that you can affix to an envelope to send your case and brush back for further recycling into plastic lumber products like park benches. So the next time you’re sitting in a park enjoying the view don’t be surprised if you feel a smile coming on!!