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National Volunteer Week – Mandy Bairos looks to make a greener future possible

Rogers is on a journey to create a more sustainable future, and our commitment to the environment is embedded in our culture and our values. At the heart of our green strategy is our people – and Mandy Bairos, Customer Solution Specialist, is one of those team members working to help make Rogers a better and greener company.

Mandy is not only passionate about providing top-tier customer service, she is also passionate about the environment. As one of the founding members of the “Green Team” at Rogers, she is part of a dedicated group of employees that help introduce new environmental programs in the workplace. Recently featured in the Globe & Mail’s article on Canada’s Top Greenest Employer, we sat down with Mandy to hear more about what she does to give back to the environment.  

How did you first become involved with the Green Team?

In 2015, I stumbled across an “Environmental” article on our internal communications platform, which spoke about how we can help give back to the environment and included an internal email address. I reached out, and then pitched the idea of a Green Team. The rest, as they say, is history! 

We’d love to hear more details about Rogers Green Teams. What can you tell us?

We have a number of Green Teams across the country that are made up of employees throughout the company. We set out commitments to conduct business in an environmentally responsible manner and protect the environment. We aim to improve our environmental performance with a focus on minimizing waste, preventing pollution, using natural resources efficiently and conserving energy. We do our part by volunteering and getting involved with our local shoreline cleanup.

Can you share more details on how you launched a Green Team at your office, and helped make the Kitchener Customer Solution Centre more environmentally responsible?

Back in 2016, we began holding several “lunch and learn” initiatives with special guests from local green vendors to generate awareness in the office on the importance of recycling. We also held “Recycle your wireless phone” and “Battery Disposal” events where employees could bring their old phones/batteries into the office to ensure these items were recycled properly and help keep this stuff out of our landfills. We would host “Take the Stairs” challenges and even organized a field trip to visit our local recycling facility and landfill.

From there, I proposed the “Get up and Get Green” recycling initiative. My goal was to remove the individual trash cans from under each employees’ desk (approx. 400) and replace them with centralized triple stream units.  Materials would be separated into three containers:  1) Landfill Waste, 2) Paper/Cardboard, 3) Plastic/Cans/Glass. Each container would be collected on a daily basis for proper disposal to optimize the ability of reuse or repurpose, rather than end up as waste. Separation of materials into the three specific bins is key to insuring your otherwise discarded products can be recycled, thus minimizing the impact on our economy, environment and home.  I wanted to bring recycling into the office and help bring awareness to our environmental footprint.  Additionally, getting up to dispose of our waste provided an extra opportunity to add activity into our daily work routine. Taking a quick break from the computer screen and walking around the office has been proven to increase productivity and energy, by circulating blood flow throughout the body. 

By 2019, triple-streams were installed throughout the entire Kitchener office and on every floor! Every individual trash can was removed and employees could now recycle by taking a few steps towards our triple streams – #winning!

What does the future look like for the Green Team?

With the majority of our call centres now working from home, our Green Team initiatives have shifted to online engagement. I run monthly online contests where I test employee’s knowledge of different environmental initiatives. Each month I randomly choose a winner who gets to pick from either an Animal or Environmental Charity where I will make a cash donation in their name.

Our future looks a bit different as most of us are now working from home.  That means we are able to free up some office real estate and keep those office lights turned off when we can. My colleagues and I will continue to do our part at home, having fun with our monthly contests and continuing with our annual shoreline cleanups. This year I’m planning our third “Shore Line Clean up” and am crossing my fingers that we can beat our last record!

Ultimately, my goal is to continue to raise awareness and encourage my fellow colleagues to help join our cause for a green future.

Who inspired you to become more involved in making a greener future possible?

Who inspired me? My family. Both of my grandparents faced World War 2 and I learned from them how nothing should go to waste. They taught me how to reuse common items around the house and the importance of growing food in your own garden. My dad helped create my environmental conscience by teaching me, at a young age, how to recycle and turn off lights whenever I would leave a room. I find myself teaching my own children the same principles. My mom would gather me and my sisters to go outside for clean-ups alongside the country roads we grew up on. My parents both inspired me by volunteering on several missionary trips across the world to help those who are less fortunate than us.  

What tips would you give to others looking to give back to the environment?

Start simple! There are a lot of easy, quick tips that can make such a big difference:

  • Recycle and compost when you can. 
  • Conserve energy by turning off lights and switching off all electronic equipment when not in use. 
  • Go paperless, cancel those paper invoices and switch to a digital and eco-conservative alternatives. 
  • Support green vendors by opting to do business with green-friendly brands and companies.
  • Set a personal example and encourage your friends and family to use reusable coffee mugs, reusable straws and reusable water bottles.
  • You can even help plant wildflowers outside to support our native bees.
  • Google “Green Organizations in (your city/town name)” to find events and volunteer opportunities near you.