Here at Ecojustice, we like a challenge.

Usually that means tackling complex legal or scientific issues, but late last year, we asked ourselves, “How can our organization be as environmentally sustainable as possible?”

While we have tried our best over the years to be environmentally friendly, there’s always room for improvement. That’s why we kicked things off by enrolling in and completing Climate Smart BC’s carbon audit program. The process involved three months of courses, during which we learned the ins and outs of tracking organizational emissions and how to develop a comprehensive reductions strategy.

It was sobering to learn that in 2011, our baseline year, Ecojustice was responsible for generating 199.45 tonnes CO2 equivalent. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that’s equivalent to the carbon emitted by using 464 barrels of oil — or the emissions created by burning 1.1 railcars worth of coal.

We did have some good news, however. We learned that many of our current practices are already environmentally friendly:

We refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible. We reuse and repurpose old office supplies and paper. We have comprehensive recycling programs in our offices. Much of our furniture is “pre-loved.” When we can, we choose green offices.

Our Toronto office is located in a LEED Platinum certified building that uses Bullfrog Power (100 per cent green energy).

We also choose environmentally friendly methods of transportation whenever we can.The majority of our staff walk, bike or use public transportation to get to work. In fact, last year, we cycled, walked or transited 84 000 km — that’s like walking from Vancouver to St. John’s and back SIX times!

Since completing our audit, we’ve been attempting to reduce our emissions and have already worked with an energy advisor to replace old lighting with LED and Energy Star products. We’ve also started a worm composting pilot project in Vancouver and are practicing better supply-chain management.

In our Vancouver office, we’re also engaging and educating staff with a year of themed months — since January, we’ve worked hard to turn off all unnecessary appliances; joined a recycling program for difficult-to-recycle waste; and banned take-away containers. We’ve even instituted fines for ‘eco-offenders,’ and intend to invest any money earned in future sustainability initiatives.

And as we continue on in our challenge to become as environmentally sustainable as possible both at work and in our
homes, we issue a challenge to you: let’s get sustainable together! Stay tuned for tips, tricks and resources on how to take on sustainability projects in your own life.

By Hilary Miller