Securing this accreditation marks the first officially recognised step on the Society’s sustainability journey as it commits to further improvements for 2022 and beyond.
VDS set up a small sustainability working group in March 2021. The “Green Team” set about benchmarking and monitoring environmental performance across key VDS resources before putting in place plans to reduce usage of these resources. The team also developed the VDS’s own environmental policy and designed a suite of “Green Team” internal communications to raise awareness among VDS colleagues.
In addition, the VDS has looked to make its own investments more sustainable and collaborated on a survey with Vet Sustain to gain an insight into the veterinary profession’s engagement with environmental sustainability in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. The data from this survey is being prepared for publication as a peer-reviewed paper to be released by Vet Sustain this year.
“We are incredibly proud to have achieved our bronze accreditation,” remarks Jo Stonehewer, director of membership and Green Team member. “This award represents a fantastic team effort and reflects strong performance against our agreed targets.
“We have made improvements across a number of key resources, reducing electricity usage by 13 percent, water by 68 percent, mileage by 79 percent and paper by 12 percent. Changing ways of working as a result of the pandemic, such as more virtual meetings and less travel, have undoubtedly assisted in us being able to make these reductions. These learnings will be used to help VDS plan for a more sustainable way of working in the future.
“But this is just the first step in our commitment to minimise the environmental impact of the Society. We’re already working towards gaining our silver accreditation this year and making further improvements.”
As the Society looks towards gaining its silver accreditation, there are some things that VDS members can do to help. Speaking about one of these Jo explained: “Our very popular VDS newsletter that is posted to nearly all of our members represents more than half of the Society’s annual paper usage – and a massive 3.5 tonnes of paper.
“I’d really encourage members to go online and consider reviewing their communication preferences as members can choose to receive the newsletter and other information from the VDS by email. This small thing would make an enormous difference in reducing the Society’s carbon footprint.”