The world is actively making an effort to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly and now is the time that all workplaces should also be prioritizing these initiatives. Besides helping the environment, sustainable business practices also result in more business for most companies because people like to work with companies that are socially responsible.
If your company has the resources, it is smart to set up a sustainability team aimed at raising awareness and implementing the newest techniques for an efficient and eco-friendly office. This team can lead various projects across the company hosting lunchtime seminars, running green challenges, doing monthly inspections and overall keeping a record of the changes made and their effects on not only the environment but also overall productivity and morale.
It can seem intimidating and expensive to make your entire office go green overnight but it can be implemented slowly. There are many things your company can do and we have gathered a few easy steps below that you can take to get the process started.
1. Implement a comprehensive recycling program.
Recycling is often the most overlooked and easy business practice your workplace can adopt. It starts with something as simple as placing blue bins strictly for recyclable material next to every regular trash can. Many things including paper, empty plastic bottles or even cardboard that would normally go in the trash can instead be thrown into the recycling bin.
If your office has a kitchen, it would make sense to also add a sealed compost bin for food scraps. These compostable food scraps can later be used as fertilizer for potted plants or even donated to a local farm. The idea is to have more areas with options for recycling so employees can choose eco-friendly solutions easily and make a habit out of it simultaneously.
2. Try to use less paper.
Most office waste is typically paper. We live in a time where work can be done digitally and things don’t necessarily need to be printed. If less paper is used, greenhouse gas emissions are drastically reduced so let that be your company’s motivation. We only use a large amount of paper out of habit and these habits need to be updated and changed. There are a lot of existing technologies that have been created to remove and substitute the hassle of paperwork that in turn reduces a company’s carbon footprint and improves efficiency.
If, however, you still do need to print something, be sure your printer has the ability to print on both sides of a sheet of paper. Invest in refillable ink cartridges so you are not constantly buying new ones. Buy and use recycled paper and if you have any scraps, reuse those as well. Put up signs near printers to encourage employees to only print if absolutely necessary.
3. Get some plants.
They don’t have to be extremely large in size or anything fancy but even just a simple desk plant is enough to improve indoor air quality and bring nature into a workplace. Plants produce oxygen that helps to offset any chemicals released into the air by office furniture or other types of work activity. This makes for cleaner and more purified air which improves the health of employees and has a direct correlation with an increase in productivity.
Some workplaces even add plant walls or vertical gardens into their layout to add an artistic design element while providing better air quality to all employees. These walls also help absorb sounds which is a great plus for a loud office.
4. Be mindful of the energy you use.
There is no reason that any electronics, lights or even the thermostat need to be left turned on overnight. A lot of companies add censors so lights automatically turn off when the room is not in use. Any standard bulb should be replaced with LED bulbs as they use 75% less energy for the same output. Natural light and painting walls a light color are also great solutions that save energy and also boost employee productivity.
Set timers on your thermostat to ensure it’s not running all day and night. Over the summer, do not overcool the office which is a common tendency that wastes energy. Make sure your heat and cooling systems are serviced regularly and your vents are
clean to make sure things are not working harder than they need to. Have employees turn off all their devices at the end of the work day.
Look into green power sources and renewable energy. Many countries have green electric plans as alternatives that your company can implement. If something like that is too drastic or expensive of a step for your team to take, adding a smart power strip is still an effective way to conserve energy. It’s these small changes that seem unimportant that truly make a significant impact over time.
5. Encourage green commuting.
Depending on the type of company you run, the first question to ask yourself is whether it is really necessary for every single employee to come in to the office daily. There are quality video conferencing and chatting alternatives available that make a virtual office much easier to maintain. A lot of work can be done just as effectively from home while also reducing your company’s carbon footprint.
Companies should look into offering a more flexible work-from-home policy if that is a viable option. They should also encourage all employees to walk, bike, carpool or take public transport into work. Many companies provide such incentives for their employees ranging from prepaid monthly public transport cards or a budget for carpooling services like Uber Pool or Lyft Line.
We understand it can be difficult to go green but if the environment and your employees both benefit from these changes, it only makes sense to get started somewhere and make a difference. Slowly implementing these changes not only makes it more affordable for the company but also gives your employees time to change their habits in a way that actually sticks. Good luck with going green!
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