Eco-friendly Australian Businesses, STEPS, Spotlight On

Eco Office Supplies

I happily (and with no small amount of relief) stumbled across Eco Office Supplies while setting up Fishica and struggling to find everything I needed for stationery and packaging that was eco friendly, of good quality & competitively priced… and all in the one place. If you are a business, (regardless of size), home office trying to be as green as possible or school/educational institution, I encourage you to read on and consider utilising Eco Office’s services yourself.

Founded by mum-preneur Heather Lesley, Eco Office is Australia’s very first 100% green office supply retailer. A recent finalist in the MYOB “Love Your Work” competition, I sent Heather the following questions to respond to and in doing so she has written the rest of this article for me – testimony to her efficiency and professionalism!

Background prior to Eco Office?

I actually started out as a graphic designer and spent about 10 years creating brands and advertising material for Australian companies and events. This is where my love affair with recycled paper began. The paper merchants would bring in all the latest paper samples to drool over. I always loved to specify tactile, recycled paper stocks for my printing projects.

Then in 1995, I was the Project Co-ordinator of the ‘paper’ exhibition – a feature exhibit at the Queensland Museum. The exhibition was curated by the Papermakers of Queensland and included an educational display about the history, science, art and craft of recycled handmade paper. This project provided me with a deeper insight into how paper is made and the issues regarding sustainable forestation and the environmental impact of paper manufacturing.

A lifestyle change came with the birth of our son. After taking a year’s worth of parental leave, we opted for a more time-flexible income source – and decided to create our own green cleaning business. Although it was only 5 years ago, it was really difficult to source natural cleaning products. They were non-existent on supermarket shelves, and the options were very limited through commercial cleaning wholesalers as well. The perception at the time was that they were too expensive and not as effective – a lot can change in 5 years!

Our cleaning business was the first of it’s kind in Adelaide to focus on green office cleaning. Our client’s were very open to adopting sustainable alternatives to their bathroom and kitchen consumables as well.

Without even advertising, we started to receive enquiries through our website from interstate businesses wanting the same products – and that’s really how Eco Office was born. The decision to focus on the National delivery of eco office supplies has changed our lives – and well and truly eclipsed our cleaning business.

Inspiration for creating Eco Office?

By working with green businesses we gained unique insights into the types of consumables that all offices share in common, as well as their recycling needs. But when we tried to source ‘eco-friendly’ office supplies both for our own office as well as for our clients, we quickly learned that there is no single retailer in Australia that is 100% devoted to the supply of sustainable janitorial and stationery office requisites.

Due to the thousands of product lines stocked by most stationery stores – searching for green office products is like looking for a needle in a haystack!

Although green office supply stores are well established in the US and UK, in Australia we are a bit behind the eight ball.

We basically saw a business opportunity to fill a market gap by establishing Eco Office® as ‘Australia’s green office supply store’ and expand our Adelaide service to cover Australia-wide product delivery.

Most satisfying & enjoyable aspects about running Eco Office?

Everyday I get to speak with people who are as passionate as I am about doing their bit for the environment. That really motivates me!

Our clients are eco-heroes! These “early-adopters” are taking time out of their busy days to do the research that’s required to make some fundamental changes in their workplace buying habits. They are ready to make the switch from what they’ve always used… to a sustainable alternative that helps them reduce their environmental impact. That’s exciting!

There are many more Australian businesses who are keen to go green at work but are not sure where to start or simply don’t have the time and resources to do the research. That’s why we created the Green Office Guide - the essential buying guide for sustainable office supplies in Australia. Much more than just a product catalogue – this paperless e-document is jam packed full of sustainable tips to green your workplace. We’ve focused on simplified product selection and transparent product descriptions to assist our clients make informed purchasing decisions, and provide an easy transition to green procurement.

Future plans/dreams you are striving for?

Ultimately, we’d like to see sustainable products become the norm – as common place as OH&S in Australian schools and workplaces.

That means recycled toilet paper and hand towels in every office bathroom, green cleaning chemicals used in every school and office, compostable cups at every event, recycled copy paper in every printer and copier, and unbleached, brown envelopes perceived not as dirty… but as a green clean option!

Where would you like to see Eco Office in say 5 years time?

In five years time, I would like to see Eco Office become a preferred supplier and industry advocate of environmentally responsible office supplies in Australia.

Further information…

To get your free copy of the Green Office Guide simply email your work contact details to: gogreen@ecoofficesupplies.com.au or visit www.ecoofficesupplies.com.au for more information.

You can also find Heather on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ecooffice

Eco Office awarded $2000 MYOB “Love Your Work”, business grant

Congratulations to Heather for being one of three finalists selected from thousands of Australian business owners, who will each receive a MYOB business grant of $2,000 worth of accounting software, training and web hosting. Click here to watch Heather’s video interview and hear why she is so passionate about going green at work.

You may also be interested in reading Heather’s thought provoking article, “Green Cleaning Our Schools”