Australian companies need to think ‘green’ to attract workers

84% of Australian workers polled in a Newspoll survey believe that it is important to work for a company which has the environment as a top priority, but slightly less than half of those surveyed said they currently worked for an organization which has implemented environmental or sustainability policies.

The results of the poll were released at a breakfast at Cafe Sydney to coincide with the launch of True Green @ Work…100 Ways You Can Make the Environment Your Business (ABC Books, $22.95). Former NSW Premier, Bob Carr officially launched the book by Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin, part of the Clean Up Australia team.

"Australia is experiencing an incredibly tight labor market so companies which have embraced green, sustainable practices are going to have an edge when it comes to attracting the right employees," Kim McKay, co-author of True Green @ Work and the co-founder and deputy chairwoman of Clean Up Australia said.

"Our challenge to business is to fully embrace a greener agenda – minimizing your environmental footprint will save energy and money and will keep your workforce, and customers happier," Kim McKay said.

"What surprised us was that of those polled, 48% said they worked for an organization which had already implemented some level of environmental or sustainability policies, which shows Australian businesses are reacting to the growing momentum for greener work practices," Jenny Bonnin, co-author of True Green @ Work and a director of Clean Up said.

"We believe that every CEO should show leadership by implementing green policies – in the book we’ve profiled ten companies which have sustainable business practices and overwhelmingly they said it had

created a better working environment and that in many cases being green gave them an edge over their competition," Jenny Bonnin said.

Australian business and industry generates an estimated 90%** of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and according to the authors, every business should be aiming to reduce their carbon footprint by at least 25% by 2010 (Clean Up Australia pledge).

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The Newspoll was conducted for True Green nationally last week (16-19 August). The results across all age groups are in-line with other studies which have shown that companies with pro-active Corporate Social Responsibility policies attract the best young graduates. The Hayes Best Employer Survey (2006) shows that nearly 75% of 20 year olds will not apply for a job if they’re uncomfortable with company values.

Collaborating with business journalist, Tim Wallace, Kim and Jenny, who also wrote True Green…100 Everyday Ways You Can Contribute to a Healthier Planet wanted to create a guide book that would be useful for every worker – whether the tips would be used by a chief executive or a worker on the factory floor.

"We started with the desk where a lot of waste occurs, especially with paper, and moves through the office, the building, workplace culture, stakeholders and suppliers, how to be carbon neutral, closing the loop, ecolabelling, marketing and embracing the green business philosophy," Jenny Bonnin said.

True Green @ Work will soon be available as an E-learning program allowing companies big and small to help train their workforce online in more sustainable business practices.

Top ten things you can do to be True Green @ Work

1. Keep a mug at work for coffee rather than use disposable cups.

2. Switch to using long-life refillable pens made from recycled plastic, paper or timber, or from fully biodegradable bio-plastic (derived from cornstarch).

3. Choose recycled paper, rather than paper made from virgin timber –it makes up 70 per cent of office waste.

4. Set your printer to double-sided copies to save paper.

5. Keep a paper recycling tray in addition to your waste bin.

6. Bring your own lunch to work in a reusable container to reduce packaging waste.

7. Remove your phone charger from the power point when not in use, as it continues to consume up to 40% of the current used to charge your phone.

8. Set your computer to sleep if you are away from your desk for more than 10 minutes, which reduces power consumption to about 5 per cent of full operating power.

9. Look to maximize the natural light in your office, rather than relying on artificial light.

10. Join the environmental/sustainability committee in your workplace. If none exists, take the initiative and form a green task force!

* Sourced from True Green @ Work

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