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What’s good for people is good for the planet

Saturday November 09, 2019 Written by Published in Environment
BCI staff Simona Aumetua (left), Jovan Wichman and Edward Nicholas help clean up the Social Centre at Nikao. 19110834 BCI staff Simona Aumetua (left), Jovan Wichman and Edward Nicholas help clean up the Social Centre at Nikao. 19110834

There is a growing demand from consumers in the Cook Islands for businesses to be more environmentally friendly. 


Often it is this consumer-led demand that pressures businesses to minimise their own eco-footprint, but is that the only reason? 

Green may be the buzz word of the moment, but just what is it that inspires businesses to implement green initiatives?

Meeting up with Ina Davies, marketing team leader at the Bank of the Cook Islands, l was keen to hear about their approach towards eco-sustainability.   

One theme that stood out for me from our discussion, was how the bank places people at the centre of what they do.  And as far as internal ethics of BCI are concerned, it is evident that this vision starts with the wellbeing of their employees. 

If staff input into decision making is valued, then they are more likely to take ownership of their workplace environment too. 

What this means in practice is that instead of just being told to do the right thing (recycle, turn lights and computers off, reuse paper, reduce food waste) employees are encouraged to really own those decisions, thereby effecting more long-lasting change. 

Ina says she has noticed ongoing positive changes following her team’s plastic-free month challenge this year: “You can really see the difference in the office!”

Every staff member receives a reusable stainless steel bottle, meaning fewer plastic bottles are purchased and also encouraging healthier choices. 

All cleaning products are now bought in bulk and/or concentrate for use in refill bottles, reducing plastic waste. Old furniture is first repurposed in the offices or otherwise offered to staff for personal use at home or in the community. 

Also, paper has been replaced with digital, thanks to online banking, paperless statements and similar transactions.  

True to form, BCI focussed on people for its 18th birthday theme this year and invited staff to choose a community-based activity. 

Driven by the number of social media comments about litter around the island, a large number chose to do a clean-up of the Social Centre in Nikao. 

Jaime Short, waste and sanitation director at Infrastructure Cook Islands, was shocked by the huge amount of waste collected, given the same area had been cleaned just eight months earlier. “Must be the same dumpers,” she said.

BCI also has a strong community sponsorship philosophy, supporting not for profit groups throughout the Cook Islands. 

We at Te Ipukarea Society have been grateful for their support for the work that we do as an environmental organisation. 

We were also thrilled to see BCI staff out supporting our tamariki at the plastic-free Rising Stars event this year and at the environmental based school holiday programme 'Ātui'anga Ki Te Tango.

It turns out that what is good for people is also good for the environment!

Kate McKessar

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