In July of 2020, Bevi users reached a notable milestone: They helped save the planet from 200 million plastic bottles. Eliminating the need for plastic bottles and cans is a driving force behind the concept of the Bevi office water dispenser. So much so, that a user can see just how many bottles a particular machine is saving with a counter right in the Bevi touchscreen.
While that may be the most obvious indicator of a positive effect on the environment, there is more behind Bevi’s approach to supporting sustainability in the workplace.
The carbon-intensive process of bottling water
Before you ever grab a beverage at work, a good deal of energy has gone into getting that bottle of water into the office refrigerator. The source for more than half of all bottled water comes from springs and aquifers. Moving all that water to a bottling facility requires energy for pumps and trucks. The bottles it goes into also require significant resources to produce. In a 2007 study, the Pacific Institute found it took the equivalent of approximately 17 million barrels of oil to make all the plastic for bottled water consumed by Americans in 2006. That’s was enough energy to power 1 million vehicles for a year. More recent research at Stanford University in 2018 put the oil consumption number for plastic bottle production at 50 million barrels per year.
But that’s not the only area where fossil fuels come into play. Still more are used in transporting the 50 billion plastic bottles used each year in the U.S. from the manufacturer to the bottling facility.
Re-imagining a more sustainable supply chain
Finding a better way to do something often requires doing it differently. Point-of-use office water dispensers, such as those from Bevi, connect to an existing water line. From there, the water can be dispensed still, sparkling or flavored right into a glass or reusable beverage tumbler. This not only cuts out the need for plastic bottles and aluminum cans, it eliminates the substantial amount of fuel needed to source, bottle, and transport the water.
Building on a good idea
While point-of-use water dispensers are certainly more environmentally friendly, there are additional ways to shrink the carbon footprint of your glass of water. By connecting water dispensers to the internet, some manufacturers are able to monitor specific aspects of their machines, such as filter life and supply levels of flavors and CO2. With this information, maintenance and restocking calls can be more accurately scheduled, minimizing the fuel consumption of service vehicles.
In addition to using machine data to schedule flavor and CO2 refills, Bevi has made the service process even greener. Bevi uses flavor boxes made from recyclable materials that can also be easily recycled after use. And the flavor bags, which are made from recyclable #7 plastic, are accepted in some community recycling programs.
There’s nearly universal agreement that staying hydrated throughout the day is important to staying healthy, feeling good, and being more productive. How each of us does that is a personal choice, but we believe a choice that’s good for people as well as the environment is one worth offering. It’s an idea that has caught on with many companies and their employees. You can read about them here. We’re proud to be part of our customers’ efforts to save 200 million plastic bottles and we continue to look for ways to help them stay healthy and be greener.
Instead of recycling plastic water bottles and cans, what if we never had to use them in the first place?
From a nightclub stage, a comedian riffs about trash and recycling. “With trash, if there’s something you don’t want anymore, you throw it away and you never see it again. But with recycling, you toss it in the bin and it comes back as something else you will eventually have to get rid of all over again.”
While this open-mic-night insight may not be entirely accurate, it does hint at an awkward truth surrounding recycling: Using bottles and cans means always having to deal with them when we’re done.
On average, Americans crack open around 1500 bottles of water each second. That translates to 90,000 every hour and 2.2 million every day. From a human health perspective, it’s good that we’re drinking so much water. However, for the health of our planet, the effects aren’t as beneficial.
While most of those plastic bottles can be recycled, a large percentage of them aren’t. Dr. Peter Gleick, the author of “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water,” says only 30 percent of those bottles make it into the recycling bin. The rest wind up in landfills, incinerators, or littering the land and the ocean. In fact, a widely reported study by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation determined that by the year 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. And many of those fish will have ingested a significant amount of that plastic.
Put down the bottle. Pick up the can.
Another thing to consider is putting water in aluminum cans instead of plastic bottles. Take a look inside the fridge in just about any office kitchen, breakroom, or cafeteria and you’ll likely see the most popular waters, seltzers, and flavored beverages in shiny aluminum rows.
Along with being easier to stack and taking up less fridge space, cans have a much higher recycling profile than their polyethylene cousins. Cans in the U.S. are recycled at rate of 50 percent, distinguishing them as the most recycled beverage container in the world. Plus, the high recyclability of aluminum means that 75 percent of all aluminum produced is still in circulation, and each regenerated can uses 90 percent less energy and produces 90 percent less emissions compared to producing a brand new can.
The environmental attractiveness of recycling cans is increasing demand. However, the problem with that is there are not enough cans in circulation right now to meet that demand. More will need to be made from scratch, and creating a new can produces double the greenhouse gases of a plastic bottle. So, while we’re improving sustainability through recycling, we’re working against that by adding carbon through can manufacturing.
A better answer to bottles and cans
Staying properly hydrated and preserving the environment don’t have to be so complicated if you consider an alternative to bottles and cans. Smart beverage dispensers, like those from Bevi, let you get that drink without the plastic or aluminum middleman. They not only supply pure filtered and sparkling water right into your reusable tumbler cup, they let you easily add electrolytes to boost your hydration and flavors to elevate your mood.
At the same time, you could be replacing 30 thousand bottles and cans each year, and as the standup comedian would point out, “never having to deal with them again.” And that may be the most refreshing part of that drink of water.
For those of us returning to our offices, the workplace we step back into will look different from the one we left.
Desks will be farther apart. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be as ubiquitous as light switches. And floor signage and tape lines will physically define boundaries within even the most open of office plans.
It will be different in another way that may not be so apparent: It won’t be as green as it was before the pandemic. Nearly all of the changes we’ll encounter are being made to keep us safe, which is obviously important. At the same time, what’s helping keep us healthy could have the opposite effect on the environment.
For instance, coffee shops are no longer accepting reusable containers and restaurants are relying on disposable menus, plates, and plastic utensils. Even if you opt for takeout or delivery, your meal will likely be packed in a Styrofoam container that makes its way to you in a plastic bag. The result is a lot more waste.
One word: Plastics
All of that waste is being dramatically compounded by a growing reliance on single-use plastic for so many other items, such as bottled water, bags, and packaging. Trying to stem that rising tide with recycling is also becoming more difficult as material-recovery facilities (MRFs) have slowed or halted their operation while they struggle with keeping workers safely apart along recyclable sorting conveyor belts.
We can still make a difference.
Here’s the good news: As we all head back to work, we can bring sustainability with us. Here are a few simple things each of us can do to flatten the Plastic Curve.
Wear a mask. Wash a mask. Consider wearing a mask made of washable fabric in the office. It’s one way to protect your co-workers. Plus, you can launder it after two to three uses, instead of disposing of it.
Commute cleaner. Employers are incentivizing their employees to drive to work rather than use public transportation. However, a healthy compromise could involve employers also providing incentives for walking or biking to work, both of which limit social contact and greenhouse gasses.
Use, clean, repeat. Consider bringing your lunch and snacks with you in a reusable container. It can be safely cleaned with soap and hot water, ideally in your dishwasher. There are also reusable solutions for food, cleaning, and personal care items to help cut down on plastic use at home. TerraCycle’s Loop program delivers products in durable containers that you ship back for cleaning and reuse once the product is gone.
A number of companies are releasing touchless water dispensers, which will provide a safe way to use a reusable cup or beverage tumbler at work and avoid cracking open and disposing of a bottle or can.
Starting July 13, existing and new Bevi machines will enable you to use your smartphone to dispense beverages so you never have to touch the machine. We think that’s a great way to stay hydrated, stay safe, and contribute to sustainability at work.
We know a lot of businesses and people were committed to creating sustainability at work before the pandemic came along. We believe that how you stay healthy and how you head back to work are your choices to make. And while things will certainly look and feel different when we walk back through the door, many of those differences can create new opportunities for sustainability. We’re committed to finding them, and sharing them with all of you.
Recently, Bevi CEO, Sean Grundy, sat down with Cheddar to talk about all things water. Watch the video by clicking the link here to hear a little about Bevi’s mission to reduce office plastic waste and how this innovative startup is changing the beverage industry office-by-office!
And if you’re interested in getting Bevi for your workspace, leave us some info at bevi.co/get-a-quote/, to receive personalized pricing.
Whether you’re assembling a dozen people in an office conference room or convening a few hundred at a convention center, your meetings make an impact beyond your company’s bottom line. How can you reduce the impact of meetings on the Earth while still collaborating for your organization’s success?
We’ve got tips to meet green whether you’re going big or talking small.
Meet green everyday
It starts with ten printed copies of an agenda (7 of which will be barely glanced at and left behind). It ends when the last person leaves the room but leaves the lights on. During the 30 – 60 minutes in between, a team might discuss some important topics, make some key decisions, and identify some necessary next steps. But they’ll also make an impact on the environment unless they take a few steps to green that meeting.
To print or not to print
Business still runs on paper and there’s no getting around that. But before each meeting, ask yourself: “Do we really need this?” Use a white board to share your meeting agenda and save dozens of pages per meeting. Share presentations via projection or screen sharing to cut down on the stacks of copies you bring into the room. (If you need a print-out of your presentation to share, bring just one or two to pass around the room or leave with key decision makers). Going paperless at every meeting may seem like an unachievable goal but a little bit of reduction is always possible and makes an impact.
All for one and one for all
Once you reduce the amount of paper you bring into the room, you may notice the number of electronics increases. Without printed agendas on which to take notes, attendees may feel compelled to tote laptops and tablets along with them. But, as with all things, there is a balance to sustainability. If ‘less paper’ equals ‘more electricity’ then we really haven’t made the difference we sought to make. See if assigning note-taking to one member of the group might help. In addition to reducing the environmental impact of that half hour, you may notice each meeting attendee is more engaged!
Relive your school days when the best thing that could happen on a nice spring day was your teacher saying, “Let’s have class outside!” Find a nice spot to sit in the office courtyard or at a nearby park. Having a meeting that doesn’t require materials? Meet while walking. This strategy serves the double goal of reducing the electricity required to power your chat and improving the health of everyone you meet with. And, of course, if you can’t help but meet inside, be sure to turn the conference room lights off when you leave.
Go big and stay green
Small changes in your small meetings can make a big difference. But what about larger meetings and conventions that requires large amounts of paper, travel, and supplies? It’s no surprise that the EPA once deemed the meetings and events industry the 2nd most wasteful in the U.S. Fortunately, every stop along the industry’s supply chain has trended towards sustainability over the past decade, turning even the largest of meetings green.
To travel or not to travel
Need to discuss something and email won’t do? Pick up the phone.
Need to discuss or interact with visuals? With Skype, Google Hangouts, and others, the sky is the limit.
Will you still have to travel, sometimes, across the miles to meet in person? Of course. Even with all of the technology at our fingertips, we still haven’t completely replaced the experience of meeting face-to-face. But thanks to the plethora of virtual meeting options, we can now make smarter decisions and travel only when necessary.
Food adds an important element to even the smallest of events and keeps large meetings energized. But the miles that food has to travel, not to mention the waste created by leftovers, serving materials, and other accessories like linens and flatware, makes a huge impact. Go green by seeking sustainable and local suppliers that serve organic food with locally sourced ingredients on reusable or eco-friendly plates, napkins, etc.
Whether planning a large convention or a smaller conference, finding the perfect location for everyone, that also takes the environment into consideration, can be a daunting task. If this is your daunting task, check out the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Green Meetings Calculator. You input your attendees’ cities of origin and it gives you a list of location options that take into account the aggregate CO2 emissions generated by flights.
What strategies do you use to ensure your meetings make an impact on your work but not on the environment?
By Tricia Mirchandani
Ready to turn your office green but don’t know where to start? While some workplace sustainability changes do require planning, consensus, and some significant process change, others can be done before you clock out today. We’ve broken it down for you to keep you going green today and beyond.
Make these changes today
Change your printing ways. Consider the impact before you click the printer icon. Do you truly need to print that page? If the answer is ‘Yes!’ (and, sometimes, it is), print double sided. Post signs by each printer and throughout the office to encourage everyone to do the same. (And hold brown bag training sessions to make sure everyone knows how to print double sided. It’s not always as easy as you think!)
Get the lights. And the printer. The computers. Shut down anything that uses electricity when you leave for the day. Create an end-of-day checklist for the last person out and encourage everyone to check power hungry machines before leaving for the day.
Save the screens. Ditch the screen savers. Though fun to look at, allowing monitors to dim instead consumes far less power.
Go green, literally. Add houseplants to your office décor. In addition to creating a more natural ambiance proven to increase well-being and productivity, houseplants enhance air quality and absorb odors naturally (bye-bye air fresheners and air purifiers).
Talk about these changes now + implement soon
No binders left behind. Keep binders, folders, half used notepads, and even paperclips out of landfills with a stationery reuse system. Talk about what items your office most often disposes of, where a good collection point would be for reusable items, and how to manage the process before introducing the concept office-wide.
Shut it down. Not just at the end of the day but before closing down for holidays. Talk about what should be powered down overnight vs. what needs attention before a two or three-day break from the office to balance office productivity and conservation.
Fresh, local, healthy. Good for the environment and for the people you work with. Fresh, local food doesn’t need to travel as far and costs less to produce, which means radically reduced energy costs and better nourishment for everyone. Talk about joining a CSA, finding local suppliers of traditional office staples like coffee and tea, and even removing vending machines.
BYO Cups and Office Canvas bags. Eliminate plastic water bottles as an office policy and provide glasses and mugs (and, might we suggest, a Bevi?). Keep a community stash of canvas bags for anyone to borrow on lunch-time trips to the grocery store.
Plan these changes out for future green ways
Evaluate your impact. Identify, as a group, three to five negative impacts your office makes on the environment. This may take some time and research but the resulting list will create a guide for future workplace sustainability efforts.
Automate it. Because humans might forget but machines don’t. Install energy management controls to automatically switch off high energy consumers on long weekends or holidays. Implement a print-follow system that queues print jobs and requires a log-in at the printer to cut down on mistaken or unnecessary printing.
Compost in the office. Plot out the location and management of the bins while educating staff on the benefits of composting. You’ll likely need to plan this one out and pursue necessary approvals while sorting out logistics. But once that’s all settled, you’ll be set to toss everything in—from coffee and tea bags to leftover lunches and paper. Donate it all to your community garden or start planting fruits and veggies right in the office.
Meet green. Use teleconferencing to cut down on business travel. Sometimes technology makes it easier to conserve.
Buy better. It’s not every day that you need a new machine, printer, computer, etc. But the next time you do, look for EPEAT registered and Energy Star rated items. Focus on things that will last (fewer landfills), that were made from recycled material (even fewer landfills) and/or machines that are energy efficient (less power). Beyond machines, think about the cleaning products you or cleaning service uses, the furnishings in your office, and even the paint on your walls. Convert them to more environmentally friendly ones with fewer chemicals for a greener environment overall.
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