New Zealand: James & Wells attorneys embrace car-less day
Last Updated: 14 June 2011

Buses, trains and good old-fashioned pedal and leg power helped innovative James & Wells Intellectual Property's attempt to go car-less to mark UN World Environment Day this month.

The firm has put a focus on becoming a more sustainable business. About 90 per cent of it staff usually drive to work, and the car-less day aimed to get everyone in the firm thinking about ways they can take individual and collective action to achieve their sustainability goals.

James & Wells has offices in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and Christchurch, and between them, the staff saved about 500km of travel (about 100kg of greenhouse gas emissions and a lot of petrol cost) on the day.

Auckland-based partner Carrick Robinson, who rode to work, says having a Kokako chocolate brownie as an incentive seemed to work wonders on staff motivation.

"It's been a long time since I have been on my bike, and have to admit I found it really hard. But it was a great cause and it's certainly given me the motivation to do it again," he says.

The firm's data from the day shows 81 per cent of the Auckland office didn't bring their car in, taking out the inter-office challenge.

Those who couldn't leave their cars at home found a surprise waiting for them in their usual car park spot - a tree. A community based environmental education organisation called Kaipatiki Project and Environment Waikato donated the trees.

Staff at the Auckland office wrapped its office car in tape to force its team to think about alternative ways to travel to appointments, and the Hamilton office put a chain around its car.

"There was some clever thinking about how to get to and from work" Carrick Robinson says.

Attorney Ben Cain's 68km round trip in Hamilton won him the public transport title: "It was great. Relaxing, stress-free and more economical than driving. I will do it again, and I loved the brownie. Yum!"

Justin Sweetman, another Auckland attorney took the Lance Armstrong Award for a 37 km round trip on his bike; and Tim Walden covered the furthest, 10.4km round trip on foot.

Waikato's inclement weather on the day caused Hamilton office senior associate, Tim Walden to adapt his plans: "I walked to work in the morning which was great but then the weather packed in so I ended up catching the bus home."

James & Wells Intellectual Property recently signed up to Landcare Research's internationally recognised CEMARS programme, which will require it to measure the carbon emissions from its operations - including the four offices - and put in place plans to reduce them.

"It will be an enlightening process, I'm sure, but worth it as we reduce our carbon footprint and also save operating costs," Carrick Robinson says.

The firm's newly formed Sustainable Business Committee intends to come up with other ways to encourage staff to focus on reducing the firm's environmental impact.

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