Celebrate Earth Week 2023: Investing in Our Planet

Friday, April 14 , 2023

It’s officially Earth Week 2023, the world’s largest environmental movement which aims to demonstrate support for the protection of our planet.

This year’s theme is Invest in Our Planet. The theme is focused on engaging governments, institutions, businesses, and the more than 1 billion citizens who participate annually in Earth Day to do their part – everyone accounted for, everyone accountable.

At The Instant Group, sustainability remains a focus within the business for Instant operations and for clients. In 2021, we started the process of developing a Net Zero Target by looking at our UK offices. This work is due to be renewed however a global Net Zero Target is under development.

For each day of the week, we’ve selected five themes which are critical to the future of the planet.



1. Monday: Biodiversity

2. Tuesday: Water - End Plastics

3. Wednesday: Energy - Climate Literacy

4. Thursday: Waste - Global Clean-Up

5. Friday: Food



Factoid / Statistic

Biodiversity is the variety of life and the interactions between living things at all levels on land, in water, in the sea, and in the air - genes, populations, species, and ecosystems.

Monitored populations of vertebrates have seen a catastrophic 69% drop on average from 1970 to 2018, according to World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Living Planet Report 2022. The report identifies several key drivers of biodiversity decline including pollution, habitat loss, climate change, species overexploitation, and disease.

Why it matters

Solving biodiversity loss and climate change comes hand in hand - you can’t solve one without the other. Biodiversity provides us with services essential for human well-being such as food and feed, medicine, energy, and fiber. Additionally, nature underpins the global economy! More than half of the world’s economic output - US$44 trillion of economic value generation - is highly or moderately dependent on nature.

Ecosystems regulate climate, natural hazards and extreme events, air quality and quality of fresh water, pollination, pests and diseases, soils, ocean acidification, and the creation and maintenance of habitats. Everything that enables us to live comes from nature! Unless we limit global warming to less than 2C (preferably 1.5C, however, we are currently on a path to reach 2.8C warming), climate change will likely become the dominant cause of biodiversity loss.

It is not all doom and gloom. Since COP15 (meeting of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, December 2022), biodiversity loss and restoring nature is becoming higher on Governments’ and communities' agendas due to its severity and pressure to act. But we need to act now!

What you can do

  • At home: Increasing biodiversity in the garden - Bird feeds or nest boxes, plant native species to attract bees and butterflies. Build a pond. Don’t mow that lawn, let it grow wild! 
  • Purchasing products: Each product you purchase, from your iPhone to your jeans impacts biodiversity. For example, gold jewelry can be mined in the Amazon, causing mass deforestation and devastation to plant and animal habitats. It can poison water sources and wipe out available food.
  • Food: Support local organic farms, regenerative farms or grow your own!
  • Advocate: Support institutions and political action that promotes the protection and restoration of biodiversity

What companies can do 

  • Awareness of the specific location of an organization's interface with nature, from their own office space to further along the supply chain.
  • Responsible sourcing of products and supply chain engagement
  • Consider nature-related dependencies, impacts, risks, and opportunities. 
  • All carbon-reducing initiatives, such as energy efficiency, will impact biodiversity.
  • Plant trees and financially contribute to nature-based solutions in tackling the climate crisis



Factoid / Statistic 

Much of the planet is swimming in discarded plastic which is harming animals, and possibly even human health. Plastic trash has become so ubiquitous it has prompted efforts to write a global treaty negotiated by the United Nations. Every year, about 8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations. That’s the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.

Why it matters

Once at sea, weather including sunlight, wind, and waves break down the waste into small particles, less than ⅕ of an inch. These microplastics are spread across the oceans and have been found in every corner of the globe. Eventually, these microplastics turn up in the guts of fish and other seafood that are ‘safe for human consumption’. Nearly 700 species, including endangered ones, are known to have been affected by plastics, and most deaths to animals are caused by entanglement or starvation due to wildlife filling their stomachs with plastics, which obviously have no nutritional value. 

Not only does this harm marine life. In 2022, scientists found traces of these microplastics in living humans, one inside the lungs of surgical patients and the other in anonymous blood donations. 

What you can do

  • Take a look at your local government website to see what can be recycled in your local area
  • Use sites such as eBay, Freecycle, and Vinted to purchase second-hand goods
  • Take your rubbish home with you
  • Reuse plastic bags until they are at the end of life and then recycle appropriately
  • Consider alternatives
  • Next time you visit the beach, spend 30 mins walking around picking up as much plastic and rubbish as you can see
  • Donate to a cause (e.g. https://theoceancleanup.com/

What companies can do

  • Educate and equip staff with reusable items to use in the office (water bottles, cutlery, etc.) 
  • Purchase second-hand furniture, fixtures, and fittings for office fit outs
  • Donate
  • Reduce the use of promotional items that aren’t recyclable or have an alternative use
  • Review the supply chain to see if your suppliers can offer alternative plastic products if they are a necessity



Why it matters

Saving energy in the office is beneficial to mitigate climate change because it reduces the overall energy consumption and associated carbon emissions. When offices use less energy, they rely less on fossil fuels, which are the primary source of greenhouse gas emissions. This reduction in emissions helps slow down global warming and the associated consequences, such as rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and loss of biodiversity.

Additionally, energy-efficient offices can:

  •   lower operating costs
  •   promote a sustainable work environment
  •   encourage responsible behavior among employees, contributing to a more sustainable society.

What you can do

Turn everything off. Make sure that whether you are at home or the office, your electronics get turned off when you’re done. From laptops to desk lamps, every kWh has a carbon impact. The less we use, the less we emit.

What companies can do

Every building needs to be evaluated and optimized from an energy perspective. The technical management and even the choice of which building will greatly influence a company’s carbon footprint. Educating the workforce on saving energy when working from home should be part of every company’s sustainability engagement. Both sides of the WFH model need to be addressed to ensure a reduction in emissions.



Factoid / Statistic

Each year, the average office worker uses 500 coffee cups, all of which are sent to landfills.

Why it matters

The World Bank expects that annual waste generation will increase by 70 percent by 2050 (UNECE). Every year, an estimated 11.2 billion tons of solid waste is collected worldwide (UN). According to the EPA, the average person creates about 2 kg of solid waste each day. In the office, coffee cups, Styrofoam plates, and thin, film-like plastics are among the commonly used items that are often found in offices and also cannot be recycled.  

What you can do 

  • In the office: 
    • Join me and bring in your lunch, reusable coffee cups, and water bottles to the office. Any food you do buy, don’t waste it. Did you know, waste food sent to landfills releases methane, a gas with a warming potential 25 times greater than CO2? Send food scraps to compost, or be inventive with veg scraps - potato peel can be roasted in an oven with olive oil and salt to make homemade crisps.
    • Recycle: know what can and can’t go in your local recycling bin in the office. Check the packaging and don’t send to recycle if it can’t be recycled - this will contaminate the entire container and all the contents will then be sent to recycling.
    • Stop printing: a study from Xerox found that nearly half of all printed documents are thrown away within 24 hours, and 30% are never picked up from the printer. 
    • Notes: Use OneNote on your laptop not a notebook.
  • At home: 
    • Disposing of clothes: Don’t just send those old jeans to landfill - look to get them repatched, send them to a friend, donate them to a charity shop, sell them online, or recycle them. Did you know it takes almost 8200 liters of water to make a pair of jeans which is the equivalent of 104 showers?
    • E-waste: Recycle at your local stores or hand old devices to friends that see your trash as treasure. Do you really need that upgrade? Buy phones/laptops from second-hand stores or keep yours beyond the upgrade time period! 
    • Soft plastics: Most large supermarkets now recycle soft plastics, however, fruit and veg can often be bought loose in the right stores meaning the soft plastics won’t need to be recycled. 
    • Know what can be recycled at home, have a compost bin for food scraps and get inventive in the kitchen. Waste as little food as you can. Get competitive - see if you can reduce landfill waste each week.

What companies can do

  • Clear waste streams in the office and clearly label what can and can’t be recycled. For every tonne of paper recycled, 17 trees and 50% of water can be saved
  • Educate employees on the importance of reducing food waste, correctly recycling, and reducing food to landfill
  • Appoint a sustainability champion in the office to educate and motivate employees
  • Conduct a waste audit. Once you can measure the waste, you can educate, manage and reduce
  • Use second-hand desks and chairs for fit-out and refurbishment
  • Dispose of e-waste responsibly



Factoid / Statistic

Agriculture has a significant environmental impact: demands huge quantities of fresh water, releases hefty greenhouse gas emissions, requires a large volume of land, and can often degrade the land, impacting biodiversity. 70% of global freshwater withdrawals are used for agriculture; around 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from food; and around 50% of the world’s habitable land is used for agriculture. Large parts of the world that were once covered by forests and wildlands are now used for agriculture.

Why it matters

Agriculture is essential for human survival. However, those of us privileged enough to afford the ability to make more conscious choices about what we eat should do so. It is one of the easiest activities that a person can do to reduce their carbon footprint.

Ignoring food emissions is not an option if we want to get close to our international climate targets. Even if we reduce non-food-related emissions to zero tomorrow, emissions from food production alone could hinder the chances of keeping temperature rise below 1.5C. 

There is often a misconception that if we all started eating more plants and less meat, this would use more land to grow crops. However, ¾ of agricultural land is used for livestock, which is pasture plus cropland used for the production of animal feed! This gives the world just 18% of global calories, and 37% of its protein. The other ¼ of land is for crops for human consumption, which provide the majority of the world’s calories and protein. Therefore, if we reduced livestock production, we would be using less land and the land used for crops is calorie rich.

The amount of land used for agriculture also reduces biodiversity. The more food we demand, the more land that has to be converted to supply that demand. Biodiversity decline is also caused by harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers (fertilizers release nitrous oxide, a harmful greenhouse gas), as they can wipe out entire species. Species in the ground keep the soil healthy and diverse. Soil stores a huge amount of carbon and therefore has a key role in reducing climate change.

What you can do 

  • Eat plant predominant - It is one of the most widely misguided pieces of advice that you should shop locally over the produce type chosen. If the footprint of food was based solely on transport, eating locally would be excellent advice. However, the choice of food has a much greater footprint than just transport alone, in fact, looking at this graph you can see the extent of the other carbon emissions throughout the supply chain.
  • If you’re an athlete and think you won’t be getting your gains through a plant-based diet, the following vegan athletes prove that it can be done: Novak Djokovic (tennis), Lawrence Okolie (boxing), Morgan Mitchell (sprint), Patrik Bouboumian (powerlifting), Lewis Hamilton (Formula 1, and his famous Bulldog Roscoe, who is also vegan) and many more!
  • Buy organic foods when possible, as harmful chemicals are not used in organic growing.
  • Look into regenerative farms near you - regenerative practices recognize how natural systems are currently impacted and apply techniques to restore systems to improve productivity.

What companies can do

  • Provide a variety of plant-based food and drink in the office, not only to promote a plant-based diet but to support the people that are already plant-based.
  • When purchasing fruit and veg, switch to organic.
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