Andrew Crowell
November 10, 2017

Lowering Our Environmental Impact

Small Actions, Big Impact

At Perk Canada we are pretty lucky to have an amazing office culture. Outside of the company outings and social events, we are generously provided with a fully stocked beverage fridge, snack table and catered lunches. In many ways, Perk goes above and beyond to make sure its employees are happy, and while that culture is great, there’s one problem: office waste. As a digital company, our paper footprint is negligible, but as great as it is to have a fridge stocked with beverages from water to soda, all those cans and bottles start to add up.

Reducing Water Bottles

Perk already went the extra step to ensure that recycling is a top priority, and all our water bottles are made from recycled plastic. However, we wanted to further reduce waste, and decided to start with water bottle consumption. After all, using recycled plastic doesn’t really do much to reduce the impact from water bottles, and with Perrier and regular water being consumed daily by upwards of 50 people, we were still producing a lot of empty bottles.

You might be asking why it’s so bad to consume bottled water if we’re carefully recycling everything.

The thing is, people don’t know much about water bottles.

Fast Facts

Did you know that it takes three times the volume of water to manufacture one bottle of water? On top of that, because of the chemicals used in the production of plastic, that water is mostly unusable. That’s 1500ml of our planet’s most precious resource wasted while producing one 500ml water bottle. Multiply that by billions and you can start to see the problem.

Bottling and shipping water is also the least efficient method of water delivery ever invented. The water industry uses 17 million barrels of oil each year just to produce all those water bottles, and if they aren’t recycled, they can take between 400 and 1,000 years to decompose.

Everyone, including the plants, loved the new reusable water bottles.

Making a Difference

We took steps here at Perk to contribute to reducing our water bottle consumption as a first step in our environmental initiatives. The first step was obvious: we provided everyone with reusable S’well water bottles, and made sure the water cooler was fully functional and freshly filtered. The second step was a little harder: convincing people to make the switch.

Debunking Assumptions

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about bottled water. Tap water is low quality and unclean. Bottled water tastes better. However, this simply isn’t true.

Most tap water is more heavily tested and regulated than bottled water, and it’s held to higher purity standard. In fact, a comprehensive four-year scientific study of 1,000 brands of bottled water found that one-third of bottled water violated their own industry standards for water quality. So, the idea that bottled water is somehow “better” than tap water is largely unfounded.

Staff Water Challenge

Perk’s main challenge in introducing reusable water bottles was convincing staff to make the switch. How did we do it? We turned it into a friendly office challenge. Every time someone used their reusable bottle, rather than grabbing a plastic bottle from the fridge, they recorded a tally for their team. For those who preferred Perrier, we obtained a Soda Stream Machine so we could make our own carbonated water in-office. We did this for one month. The prize? A free team lunch.

The results were great. Every team participated, and with a little healthy competition (and public shaming) as motivation, Perk came together and seriously reduced the consumption of plastic water bottles.

The Results

As a company, over 30 days, we saved 725 water bottles, 30 pounds of plastic, and 1,087,500ml of water (which would have been used producing bottles).

That’s 29 bottles a day, or 10,585 bottles, 438 pounds of plastic and 15,877,500ml of production water a year.

We may be a relatively small company, but this is a big difference for us to make, and one we are proud of. It may be a small step in the larger picture, but if everyone on the planet kept taking those small steps, eventually we’d complete the marathon.

And at Perk, I think we’re all proud to be part of the race.