Introducing, Senior Compliance Specialist, Ali Gretchner! Ali is a member of the amazing Green Team, and we are so excited to get some insight as to what the Green Team is, efforts we can all take to clean up our beautiful planet and so much more. Thank you, Ali for sharing the importance of the Green Team and what inspired you to start this wonderful team!
What is the Green Team?
We are a group of internal employees who have assumed the responsibility of researching ways we can improve our stance as an environmentally friendly company as well as orchestrating plans to achieve that goal. Along the way, we hope to bring awareness and education to our employees so that sustainability doesn’t have to just live in the office but can be taken home at the end of the day. We are everything from a reminder to recycle your yogurt container to completely revamping the office spaces so that we’re a carbon neutral company.
What inspired you/ made you want to start the Green Team?
Like that stereotype of Vegans needing, you to know they’re a Vegan, something in me needs everyone to know I’m from Rhode Island, so chances are if we have ever had a conversation, I’ve made it disgustingly obvious how much I love the state. Growing up in a southern RI beach town, the well-being of our environment was always top of mind.
Spending over 20 years in a place that prioritized the earth meant it inevitably became one of my priorities and would follow me wherever I went. So, when I first started at ALKU, I clearly remember the shock I experienced while watching people open a 1.5oz, individually packaged Jif peanut butter container, take a plastic knife, spread the PB on their English muffin then just throw the plastic items away. Not even a 10 second life span for the plastic that was now going to take 1,000 years to disappear from the planet.
I’m not typically someone who tries to sell people on things, reason number 93205 I’m not in a sales role here, so rather than pointing out the issue with the plastic utensils I brought in a metal set, a metal straw, and a mug for myself. Not even a month later, metal straws were popping up all over the office. What my long-winded answer is trying to say is that I did my part and after seeing it silently influence those around me, I wondered just how far I could take this.
Do you have any tips on how we can be more sustainable in and out of the office?
Of course, I do! The good yet overwhelming thing is that there’s always room for improvement. Sustainability can be broken down into tiers. To stay on the topic of utensils, obviously plastic can be replaced with stainless steel. However, it can keep going. Stainless steel can be replaced with bamboo. And it keeps going until you are eventually eating with your hands. My point is that anyone looking to make a change can take a step into a tier they’re comfortable with, because any step forward is one in the right direction. You don’t have to take on an entirely new lifestyle, just look at your current lifestyle and assess where you think it can be improved upon.
Some smaller changes:
- Lower the brightness on your electronics so it uses less energy
- Turn off lights, heating or cooling when you are not in the room
- Bring your own canvas bags to the grocery store
- Ask yourself if something REALLY needs to be printed
- If you MUST use a notebook, use both sides of the paper
- Unplug appliances that are not in use. Off does not = not using energy.
Some bigger changes
- Converting your home to be powered by a reusable resource
- Switching to an electric or hybrid vehicle (so long as you have a sustainable way to recharge it)
- Doing your research so that you are choosing to buy from sustainable businesses
- Make your own coffee rather than buying from Starbucks. Yes, I put this in the big changes because I know my audience. Skipping a Dunks or Starbs plastic cup will add up.
What do you see in the future for the Green Team?
I literally envision the closing scene of the Lorax, everyone coming together, turning over a new leaf (wink) and giving it a try. Nothing makes me happier than seeing people do the right thing, probably why I pursued a career in Compliance. I really hope we can start implementing some lunch & learns, VTO opportunities and most importantly get the buy in from internal employees because big changes require a village. I essentially want the Green Team to be everyone.
What environmentally friendly initiative do you hope to implement at ALKU?
I’m reaching big here because quite frankly, we are out of time. As great as it is to replace plastic in the office, that’s more of a PR stunt. It will get people thinking in a sustainable mindset because it’s a change happening right in front of their faces. Of course, it helps, but with ALKU being as big as it is, we should be doing things as big as we are. So, I want solar panels on our office buildings. I want ALKU to have green business certifications. I do not want a part of the problem; I want to be part of the solution.