Each month at the Gate, we set ourselves a monthly Green Gate Challenge. Green Gate is what we call our sustainability policy and, for the past couple of months, we’ve embarked on monthly challenges.
The challenges are about changing how we think in the long term (and not just for that month), but we’ve found that giving each month a focus helps us keep sustainability and our Green Gate Policy at the forefront of our thinking as an organisation.
In honour of January’s sobering tone (both for the body and wallet), we decided that we’d try bringing in our own packed lunches more often.
It’s all tied up into thinking about (and reducing!) food waste. By bringing in our own lunches we wanted to try to reduce the amount of packaging hitting landfill too.
We also signed this petition which asks supermarkets to take responsibility for the waste that they cause in the supply chain: https://wastenotuk.com/
As always, we urge all our Gate friends to join in the challenges! Here are some of our challenges we’ve done in the past, for inspiration:
Replace ten items in this week’s shop with Fairtrade alternatives
Use a re-usable water bottle (avoid plastic)
Say no to plastic carrier bags
Ride a bike to work
Say no to disposable coffee cups
Vegan Monday/Meat free Mon-Fri
Say no to plastic carrier bags
You may think these challenges sounds easy (and for some it was), but here are what we found to be the joys and tribulations of our January challenge:
“I’m terrible when it comes to forward planning my own lunches. It’s a bad habit that I’ve wanted to kick for a good while, so I was really up for this challenge. It did involve more of a change than anticipated: I had to think ahead and change my cooking habits and so, naturally, I had a rocky start. The amount of times I left my lunch at home was far too numerous to mention. That said, this challenge has really encapsulated the whole rhythm of our Green Gate challenges – it sounds deceptively easy, it’s difficult to achieve, but after a month of trying, a pattern sets in and exciting changes can be made. Long live the Tupperware.”
Chrissy, General Manager
“This month’s Green Gate challenge couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only was I broke from Christmas but I’d also decided that I wanted to be more conscious of the food I’m consuming (#NewYearNewMe). I must admit, I often struggle with our monthly challenges – I’m an avid plastic bottle/bag user! However, I’ve found this challenge incredibly rewarding on my stomach and my bank balance and will continue to bring packed lunches in from now on – even if it does mean waking up earlier to prepare them!”
Tash, Marketing and Audience Development Officer
“I’ve kind of cheated on this Green Gate Challenge, I’m a terrible cook, and rarely have food in the house. A typical dinner for me is a slice of toast and some carrot sticks. When this challenge was suggested, I worried that I’d buy food at home and then not be able to do the next step, which was bringing it in for lunch – creating more of the kind of waste we are trying to limit! So instead, everyone in the office helped me find a work around, which still fell in line with the spirit for January’s challenge, and worked for my lifestyle outside of work – no more Pret breakfasts. Up till now, I self-indulgently spent £2.80 every day just on breakfast. Giving up my morning croissant and take away drink in favour toast and tea has saved my wallet, and reduced my daily use of needless packaging.
It’s shocking how quickly something becomes a habit, and how much easier it is to break that habit with support (and gentle monitoring, teasing and reminding!) of colleagues, and a structured challenge. I’ve loved how these office challenges have changed so many of my habits, which I just hadn’t considered before.”
“Like Chrissy, in the past I’ve been awful at planning my lunches and bringing them in. I do so much planning and strategic thinking at work that I generally fail at it in my private life! However, I took this month’s challenge as a chance to bring leftovers in for lunch, rather than forget about them at the back of the fridge. I think I managed this 3 or 4 times, and that felt like a big success for me. I’ll definitely continue the habit.”
Clare Slater, Executive Director