Thursday, October 8, 2009

Do Ten Things, Do 100 Things

I wrote last week about Do One Thing, the Saatchi & Saatchi S initiative to personalize sustainable actions. Real change requires a ground swell of action, but as companies we can take decisive steps that have impact.

Walmart recently discontinued issuing paper checks to its employees in favor of electronic payments. By that stroke alone it will save some 257,572 pounds of paper a year.

Tesco in the UK has announced that it is now diverting 100% of its waste from landfills. This is no small feat, since it encompasses all of Tesco’s 2300 stores and distribution centers in the UK.

Marks & Spencer has pledged to meet 100 separate commitments to reduce impacts within a five-year time-frame, and has already achieved 39 of those within the first two years.

Here are ten things Ikea did to be more sustainable:

  1. Replace polyvinylchloride (PVC) in wallpapers, home textiles, shower curtains, lampshades, and furniture – PVC has been eliminated from packaging and is being phased out in electric cables;
  2. Minimize the use of formaldehyde in its products, including textiles;
  3. Eliminate acid-curing lacquers;
  4. Produce a model of chair (OGLA) made from 100% post-consumer plastic waste;
  5. Introduce a series of air-inflatable furniture products into the product line. Such products reduce the use of raw materials for framing and stuffing and reduce transportation weight and volume to about 15% of that of conventional furniture;
  6. Reduce the use of chromium for metal surface treatment;
  7. Limit the use of substances such as cadmium, lead, PCB, PCP, and AZO pigments;
  8. Use wood from responsibly-managed forests that replant and maintain biological diversity;
  9. Use only recyclable materials for flat packaging and "pure" (non-mixed) materials for packaging to assist in recycling.
  10. Introduce rental bicycles with trailers for customers in Denmark.
At Saatchi & Saatchi, we’re setting goals relating to optimal management of our buildings, and doing less traveling. And individually our employees each declare what their DOT is.

There’s an interesting exchange on the post I published last week on DOT – a reader claiming that the “incremental steps” model does not achieve transformative change. Adam Werbach responds to this and other views on this, and how he believes the “bottom-of-the-pyramid” actions on the part of the general population have a major effect on decisions made by companies and governments. More on this to come.