Elżbieta Stępień, our senior accounting specialist in PPG Tikkurila, Poland, is a big ambassador for sustainability in the workplace and at home. In her recent interview during PPG Green Week, she reveals what "Sustainability in Everyday Life" means to her and how even her family is helping to protect the world.
“Greening” the Office for Her Team
Elżbieta, or Elka as she is known, has been with us for the past 14 years. She works in the accounting department where she leads the receivables team.
Even though her job is strictly office-based, she finds every possible way of helping her team reduce their impact on the environment. Such as working on two monitors, implementing an electronic document flow and only printing when absolutely necessary. They’ve also swapped out the plastic bottles of water delivered to the office for returnable glass ones, like other departments in the company.
My colleagues and I pay a lot of attention to electricity consumption, so we turn off the lights when not needed and use daylight as much as possible. This applies to charging phones and computers, too.
Elka even stepped forward and, as part of PPG Green Week, in an extensive interview, told her colleagues from PPG Tikkurila a story about her passion for a sustainable lifestyle.
Excited by Our Sustainable Initiatives and Products
Elka is pleased with how many sustainability initiatives our company has, like improving internal processes, enhancing the thermal efficiency of our buildings, investing in solar thermal collectors, installing energy-efficient lighting and practicing appropriate waste management.
She’s also excited by our many eco-friendly products like water-soluble paints and our TIKKURILA® Optiva Nature range.
I think our efforts could be developed even more in the future, perhaps by establishing our own wind farm?
Her favorite activity for helping to grow environmental awareness among colleagues and the community is Be Responsible in Nature – Plant A Tree with Tikkurila, during which she and her family “spend time in the open air making our planet greener”.
Change Starts from Within Ourselves
Elka has been passionate about the planet for many years and says that part of the motivation for her efforts is “an inner need to change something” and the “guilt that I am destroying this beautiful green corner”.
We are lucky to live a relatively peaceful life – to enjoy every moment and admire the works of nature. I want future generations to have this opportunity too.
She believes strongly that it is not about making large, spectacular actions but rather small changes to everyday habits.
They do not cost us anything. On the contrary, they bring several benefits to our lives, our health and the environment. It is best to start from ourselves and set an example for others.
A Greener Future – It’s a Family Affair
At home, her family is almost as passionate as she is. They have swapped baths for showers, replaced chemical cleaners with greener alternatives and have reduced how often they buy new things. They conserve water, collect rainwater and compost. They use renewable energy sources and have even learned to drive more slowly and smoothly to reduce CO2 emissions.
We also pay a lot of attention to shopping and the way we eat – buying less food, using as much as possible and limiting our meat consumption.
They frequent farmers’ markets, choose products without plastic packaging and take their own bags. At home, they even make their own sourdough bread and preserves. Though Elka is the driving force behind the family’s efforts, her husband is very supportive of them.
Their older kids look at them “from the sidelines, laughing as if we're a bit nuts”, but their younger daughters are more involved, even helping to clear local ditches of rubbish.
They eagerly put on their gloves and collect cans and bottles scattered along the roadside. This has become our tradition and every spring, we do a family world clean-up.
Looking Forward While Learning from the Past
Elka thinks we could learn a lot from our parents, who knew very well how not to waste the food, clothes or equipment they worked so hard to buy.
Fortunately, it seems to be slowly getting through to us that it is better to accumulate less stuff and collect memories instead.
She believes in the saying “slowly to the goal” and already has a long list of improvements she’d like to make in her life. These include setting up a greywater circuit for her home WC, buying less plastic, producing less waste, planting more trees and fighting for concrete-free green markets in cities. It is also her dream to keep bees!
I know that one day, I will achieve this because I follow my motto: Dreams don't come true unless you do!