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L’Oréal Proves Small Changes Can Make a Big Impact on the Environment

If we pay people to keep the trees standing, would they still cut the rainforest down? This was the question that inspired the team at L’Oréal Netherlands to take part in a unique, eco-friendly pilot scheme that rewarded staff for making simple, environmentally friendly changes at work. To find out more, we sat down with Ana Lee, scientific and regulatory affairs-expert at L’Oréal Netherlands.

Making a positive change should be a choice

Inspired by ideas from the Dutch Next Nature Network, which is an organisation that promotes sustainability, Ana aimed to encourage staff to think about the environment while having fun.

“We wanted to give everyone a choice, rather than imposing rules or enforcing good behaviour. You need to explain why making a change is important, not simply state that something has to be done,” Ana says.

Small actions bring significant results

In the month-long trial, staff earned ECO Coins by making small and seemly inconsequential changes to their behaviour. Joining a carpool, choosing a vegetarian meal option and even printing less paper was enough to earn coins, which staff used to buy themselves an array of treats such as cups of coffee and even a relaxing massage at work. With the pay off as good as that, it’s little wonder the scheme was so popular. So, could these small actions really make a big difference? According to Ana, they did.

“The result of thousands of sustainable actions over a month saw a reduction in our carbon footprint by 8.423 kg of CO2. That equates to 65 flights from Amsterdam to Paris.”

And that’s not all, Ana says the team saved enough power to keep a lamp burning for a whopping 3,400 hours.

Many staff are keeping up the good work

Despite the scheme only lasting for a month, its influence has been significant and lasting, as many L’Oréal colleagues are choosing to keep up their good habits. According to Ana, this could be because workers at L’Oréal have seen immediate rewards for their efforts, as well as being inspired by the vast changes their team has made in just one month.

“At home, you go to the market with your cotton bags and try to shower as fast as possible. However, at work, it might seem like you are the only one acting sustainably. As a result, your efforts feel like a drop in the ocean,” Ana says.

The ECO Coin scheme is one of many environmental efforts L’Oréal is involved in. In fact, our US branch was recognised at the top-performing global company on sustainability in 2017. Also, we are currently working to make a 60% reduction on our environmental footprint by 2020, an effort that Ana, who studied bio-pharmaceutical sciences, wants other companies to follow.

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The power of one

“Employees have to take responsibility. Not just by being as sustainable as possible, which, luckily, we hear of much more often, but also by discussing the subject with your employees and motivating them to make real changes.”

While this small pilot scheme has shown us the enormous positive changes that companies can make for the environment, it also shows the power just one person has within them to make a cleaner world. So, what small changes can you make today?

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