What do corks, translators and the SDGs have in common?

Thu, 11/04/19

In February, the Languages Service (LS) of the Division of Conference Management at UNOG launched the EcoCorner, a sustainability project developed jointly by the Russian and the Spanish Translation Sections. This initiative aims at implementing SDG 12.5: By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.

The EcoCorner is a small room, previously used for printers, that has been refurbished at no cost (and no waste). Some objects were upcycled (e.g. a pallet that previously transported vegetables) and others were revamped to promote the zero-waste philosophy based on the “5Rs”: refuse, reduce, reuse, repair and recycle.

The EcoCorner serves as a collecting station for plastic caps and wine corks that will be recycled through an NGO that uses the proceeds to support persons with disabilities, for example, by providing them with mobility devices.

It also collects printed paper that is later transformed into notepads, aluminium coffee capsules, and batteries, which are checked before disposal to ensure there is no charge left in them. There are also reusable tote bags and other articles that can be borrowed.


Take what you need, bring what you don’t use


This motto encourages staff to exchange office supplies, such as stationary and binders.

The plan is to also regularly share tips on how to apply the 5Rs and to organise activities, such as DIY workshops on how to refurbish old office supplies.

Information-sharing is done both offline and through a Yammer group (EcoCorner: wasting less at LS -E.4093-1) where staff members are invited to discuss waste reduction.


What staff are saying


"I am very proud of the EcoCorner, which is one of the sustainability initiatives developed within the Languages Service. It has allowed our staff to contribute to the SDGs in a very practical way and make it part of our daily life at work," says Michelle Keating, Chief, Languages Service.

"How can we advocate change without being role models ourselves? We have a responsibility as international civil servants; we must adhere to and promote the ideals of the organisation. The EcoCorner is proof that it is possible, with few resources, to make a difference," says Brianne Magnat, Editorial and Desktop Publishing Assistant, Languages Service, French Text Processing Unit.

"I think the Ecocorner is a fantastic idea," agrees Maria Pla Huberti, Senior Reviser, Languages Service, Spanish Translation Section. "It makes so much sense! I have used it often, and I think it has also been helpful in raising awareness among staff."


What’s next?


Located on the 4th floor of Building E, this dynamic but transient space is doomed to be demolished in a few years as a result of the Strategic Heritage Plan. That said, hopefully it will have a long-lasting effect by encouraging greener practices at the workplace and at home.

And we hope that the space can be reincarnated in another space at the end of the Strategic Heritage Plan!

The space is managed by Yustiniya Khokhlova and Margarita Serrano.


Categories: Staff Engagement, Waste