Feel good Friday: A waste-free government event

An important part of setting up a business is understanding your legal obligations. For this reason me and my partner went to a free seminar hosted by Companies House in the UK to get information about what responsibilities a first-time director has to fulfill to stay within the bounds of UK law.

Having been to conferences and business events many times before, I was aware of the need to be prepared to fight off the waste that goes along with them.

I packed a bag with two reusable mugs, a plastic baggie to take home the teabags to compost and I even made sandwiches and packed fruit to take with us to avoid the temptation to buy a packaged processed lunch while we were out.

I was pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the event because I didn’t need to be so well prepared, the hotel (Holiday Inn) had prepared the refreshments to a high standard.

The tea and coffee was served in real mugs instead of disposable alternatives and so we didn’t have to use our reusable mugs.

The tea bags were placed in a bowl loose instead of in individual sachets and so we didn’t have any sachet waste that would have gone to landfill.

The cookies that they provided were freshly baked and served from a glass cookie jar instead of being individually wrapped and so there was zero waste associated with the cookies.

The milk was served in a stainless steel jug instead of those single-serve plastic portions of UHT milk and so there wasn’t any waste associated with the milk either!

I was very very impressed!

The only waste that was created was the teabags (which I took home to compost) and a wooden stirring stick which they provided to stir the tea and coffee. I was the only delegate to take my stick home to compost and so inevitably the rest ended up in the landfill after a single use. One way of improving their service would be to provide reusable stainless steel spoons which could be washed after use instead of the wooden disposable sticks.

I was so impressed with the service that I wrote an email to the hotel to thank them and to recommend that they switch to reusable spoons in the future. I think it is equally as important to provide feedback when service is good as it is when service is bad. The good feedback shows businesses that people do appreciate their efforts and will hopefully encourage them to do even more to prevent waste throughout their business.

I was also impressed with the attitude of the people running the seminar, Companies House encourage everybody that uses their service to sign up for digital reminders rather than paper ones and also encourages users to fill out their annual returns online rather than via post with paper forms. They told us that 99% of their users now file their returns online and eventually they hope to make it 100%. They actually make it more expensive to file paper forms to deter people from using paper and reduce the use of paper throughout their business.

I am happy to see that a government service is taking the matter of reducing waste and saving resources seriously, it is a very positive sign that these issues are penetrating to the core of how our country is run and people are taking notice of how important these issues are.

Well done Companies House and Holiday Inn, you should be proud of your efforts to reduce waste and reduce the use of resources  🙂