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The Zebra Goes Green

panels.jpg stove.jpg Now, we’re very proud of being colourful Zebras however, there’s one colour we’re particularly proud of being and that’s green. I know everyone says they’re green; it’s a very trendy colour to be. We’ll be honest about it. We’re trying to be as green as possible not only to be nice to the planet but also because it saves us money!

The Problems

We looked at where we use most energy here at Zebra Colour and we came up with the following little list:

Electricity

IT equipment; our computers, monitors and printers are on all day when we’re in the office.

Brews; we keep putting the kettle on to boil water.

Lighting; we need lights on to see what we’re doing in the winter.

Food; we need to heat things to eat, brains need calories too, don’t you know.

Heating

It gets cold in the winter whilst sitting at your desk so we need to heat the office.

Paper products and ink

We need to print things so we need paper and ink.

We need to post things so we need envelopes and packaging.

Our Solutions

Once we’d drawn up our little list we sat down again and worked out ways we could minimise our energy and resource usage for all of these things. Here’s our very own cunning green plan.

Electricity usage

We do need computers and peripherals but we make sure they use as little electricity as possible by only switching them on when we need them. Everything is switched off at night and our server goes into a very deep sleep. We moved our office to the south side of the building so we get much more natural light thus reducing our need for artificial lighting. We also equipped each desk with a low energy anglepoise lamp which means we hardly ever need to light the whole office. We also changed the main office lighting to low energy lighting.

Brewing up was a little trickier. Heating water takes lashings of power, our kettle uses 3 KW of power. Our solution was to use a special kettle called an ‘Airpot’. Basically it’s a well-insulated vessel with a heating element. It heats the day’s water slowly, it uses 0.75 KW, and then keeps it warm all day ready for our brews.

Food, again that was a problem as we needed to heat our lunch in either an electric oven or a microwave. Obviously we could have done without food but that’s a silly idea. The microwave scores better in the efficiency stakes than the oven but it still uses electricity.

If you could fly, you’d be able to see our electricity solution on our roof, but as you probably can’t here’s a handy photograph of our new babies. We decided we still needed a fair amount of electricity so we decided to make our own. We now have 21 photovoltaic panels on our roof. We don’t think we can be accused of only paying lip service to a green policy with these beauties on the roof.

Heating

Moving the office to a south facing room has helped but we needed something more. We installed a wood burning stove in the office with, wait for it, an oven built into it. So, we get a lovely warm office using a renewable fuel and we can also cook using the same fuel. Very energy efficient we say, and also rather snugly and warm too.

Paper products and ink

No, we don’t grow our own trees and make our own paper I’m afraid. However, when we buy paper we try and buy products containing recycled paper. We reuse any paper that has only been printed on one side and we also use scrap paper for notes as opposed to buying note paper. We recycle envelopes and reuse them. And to cap it all, we make paper logs to use in the wood burning stove from our waste paper. All our printers use ink via a bulk feed system so we buy ink in bottles rather than in cartridges thus reducing the amount of plastic cartridge waste.