Everybody is talking about climate change. That’s hardly a unique observation – it’s everywhere. Whether it’s on social media, in advertisements, in regular print editions of The Saint, or scaling Big Ben whilst dressed as Boris Johnson … we can’t escape it, and rightly so. But despite the fact that fighting the climate crisis on an individual level is phenomenally important and its effects shouldn’t be underestimated, it has to be acknowledged that the biggest changes will be visible when large companies, investors and people in power start to implement environmental policies.
I recently finished a work experience placement at Sky News, a perfect example of a large company. There are approximately 5,500 people working at Sky’s Osterley offices – not at one time, I hasten to add. The offices are essentially set out like a huge campus: I described it to several members of staff as an “adult university”. There’s a gym, a cinema, and at least six cafes and restaurants. In other words, there’s a whole lot of potential for plastic pollution on a massive scale. And yet, I didn’t see a single plastic bottle or disposable coffee cup.
Sky recently introduced its Ocean Rescue programme, which saw a plastic ban across the Osterley offices. Every single desk in the newsroom is adorned with a reusable bottle; there are water fountains around every corner and you can’t get a coffee unless you have a Keep Cup. I could have let this ruin my week, seeing as I’d left mine on the drying rack in my St Andrews flat, but as an environmentalist I was thrilled to be going a week without coffee.
The offices aren’t perfect. They’re hardly carbon neutral, for one: there are about a hundred computers in the newsroom alone, and the amount of energy required to power their studios is unimaginably high. But they are trying, and that’s more than can be said for too many organisations. Sky’s employees are, on average, far younger than the staff at news outlets such as the BBC – which already implies that they’re more forward-thinking – and it’s typically thought that the climate crisis is being dominated by young generations. But every single staff member was on-board with the new movement. What have companies actually got to lose here? It might have taken a small adjustment and profits may have decreased slightly while people adjusted to the shift and purchased their own reusable vessels, but in the grand scheme of things – especially considering the profits these places are racking in every year – this isn’t a justifiable excuse.
And as for the bottles which do inevitably find their respective ways into the campus, there is a huge and incredibly powerful art installation in the middle of the complex, made entirely out of single-use plastic bottles. The structure replicates a giant whale’s tail coming out of the sea, and ‘Sky Ocean Rescue’ is inscribed on the side. It’s the central focal point as you’re walking to Sky Central or the Studios, and it’s a moving way of demonstrating the effect that plastic pollution has on the oceans, as well as a brilliant daily reminder to staff of the positive impact of their cooperation with the movement.