The latest Tarkett research shows that 65% of office workers are more mindful of their impact on the environment today than a year ago. However, while employees are keen to 'do more' (67%) to protect our planet, there seems to be great confusion about how.

We spoke with Lay Koon Tan, founder of Nature Squared that makes luxury surfaces from waste products to find out how she thinks individuals and businesses can do their bit for a more environmentally conscious world.

What are the problems that employees and businesses face when attempting to be more sustainable?

One key frustration often cited is that employees of larger corporations, in particular, want to do more at work, but they find it challenging to get everyone on board. 

This is especially true for employees who feel they are not in a position to contribute to decision-making processes. They may feel that there needs to be a broader buy-in to sustainability within the workplace to make an impact and drive change across the business.

What are the challenges of getting everyone on board?

The biggest culprit is misinformation - and information overload. Sustainability is such a complex area. 

There is a lot of confusion around which issues should be prioritised and which actions are more harmful than others. This can lead people to believe that they are living more sustainably than they actually are.

For example, many people are still unaware of the magnitude of the carbon crisis in comparison to the plastic crisis. Cutting down on your plastic use will definitely have a positive impact on the environment, but not as much as walking to work instead of driving. 

To reinforce this, the latest Tarkett research shows that close to 30% of respondents across eight countries believe that they are doing all that they can for the climate. This is a very harmful mindset that truly underpins lack of understanding around just how much work needs to be done to create a more sustainable future.

A third of people believe that they are doing all that they can for the climate.
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What larger scale actions are being taken at the moment to encourage sustainable action, and how can businesses make more environmentally conscious decisions? 

In several countries, businesses pay reduced taxes if they produce less waste for landfill. Businesses consciously try to reduce their waste production & increase their recycling efforts, to receive these financial benefits. 

Through this we can see that money is a practical tool and a great incentive to get people on board. Generally, people like to receive a benefit for doing good deeds and for many, these are more motivating than the overall understanding that you are helping the planet. 

Thinking smaller scale, what can businesses do make a difference?

Small changes are equally as important as large scale initiatives and are often a lot easier for an organisation to implement and commit to. 

For instance, at Nature Squared we have given everyone in the organisation a reusable water bottle and this simple initiative has an immediate impact on reducing plastic waste. 

Small changes like these can act as a catalyst for people to take bolder steps as they become more conscious of their environmental impact. As humans, we like to feel as if we’re part of a solution, and so what starts small can push people to do more to feel more involved. 

Do you have any final thoughts?

We are all capable of achieving great things and supporting sustainable action, through small changes. 

As more and more businesses begin to consciously think about their environmental impact and promote sustainable behaviour both in the workplace and through sustainable design, I truly believe small changes will transform into bigger action. 

For more insight into sustainability, watch the Rethinking Waste & The Circular Economy webinar or read A Greener Workplace; Top Employee Priority

Marjolijn Verleg EMEA Marketing Communications Manager Workplace, Tarkett Full bio and articles

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