Product, Service & Design Innovation
Engagement and Innovation:
Lessons from CLIF Bar's Latest Eco-Challenge

Jennifer FreitasTo commemorate Earth Day 2013, Clif Bar’s offices in Emeryville, California, went paperless for one week. Jennifer Freitas, Clif Bar’s Human Resources Manager, gives us an inside view of what the initiative was like and some tips for offices considering similar projects.

How did the paperless initiative come about?

Clif Bar & Company does a few eco-challenges each year. Typically, these are aimed at engaging our employees around Planet Aspiration, which includes our Five Aspirations — the five equally weighted bottom lines that we use to run our business. These are Sustaining Our People, Community, Planet, Business and Brands. For Earth Day, it seemed a good fit that we would try going paperless because diminishing our printing and paper usage contributes to two of our goals: reaching zero waste at our headquarters and reducing our carbon footprint.

Was the entire office involved?

Actually, yes! Of course, not all teams were able to go completely paper-free because of functionality. Our creative and packaging teams’ work, for example, would have been tough without the use of paper.

What was the most gratifying aspect of the project?

The purpose of the project was cutting down on printing, which we did by 44%. However, the more abstract goal was having folks rethink those processes that have always been paper-based and innovate a paperless way to achieve the same goals — that was very gratifying.

How did the teams innovate around the obstacles of not using paper?

A handful of teams created new processes or ways of running meetings in order to go paperless. There were a few apps and programs central to this, like OneNote. There was also some troubleshooting involved. We have one team that shares lots of spreadsheet data in their regular meetings, usually on paper. When they tried to project the spreadsheet on the wall, it didn’t work very well, but importing their spreadsheets into PowerPoint and projecting them from there made it much more workable. They saved hundreds of sheets of paper just in that one meeting.

What were the more concrete impacts of the challenge?

Well, we saved a lot of money during the week that would have normally gone toward purchasing paper. So, with that extra money, our Sustainability Team will plant 1,000 trees and has agreed to plant more trees based on the money we save on printing costs the rest of this year.

Any tips that Clif might offer others considering green initiatives?

Keep the goals and guidelines straight-forward and easy to follow. Make it fun!

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