Businesses around the globe are responding to pressure from consumers to clean up their act and
become more eco-friendly. Many consumers, especially younger generations will only do business with brands that take active steps to operate in greener ways, and will often pay more to use a brand that has a strong ethical focus. For a lot of companies, it can seem daunting to make changes, but with these green office environment tips, you can stay ahead of the game.
But failing to embrace greener working practices today you may experience a loss of profitability tomorrow, alienating prospective customers who keep a close eye on their environmental footprint.
Often little things can add up to a big difference as long as your company stays consistent!
1. REDUCE PRINTER AND PAPER USAGE
In today’s increasingly digitized age, many workplaces are beginning to find that printers aren’t needed as much as they used to be.
Rarely do organizations need to rely all that heavily on paper records or documents. If your business can go 100% paperless, consider donating your printers to a worthy cause like a local Non-Profit Organization, community center, or school.
If you absolutely need to use paper regularly, limit the number of pages that can be printed per month and make the switch to recycled paper. Little changes like these can make a meaningful difference and actually save your company money.
2. PROVIDE EMPLOYEES WITH REUSABLE MUGS AND GLASSES
Take a look in the trash cans of most workplaces and you’ll see ample paper coffee cups and plastic cups from the water cooler. What’s more, these are not always recyclable or biodegradable.
Even if you use paper coffee cups, they often have a waterproof plastic coating that prevents them from being recycled. Instead of encouraging the waste of disposable glasses and cups, provide your team with real mugs and glasses. They are inexpensive if you buy them in bulk and only take a few seconds to wash. This change can make a big difference when it comes to reducing waste.
3. BEAN TO CUP TO CLEAN YOUR BUSINESS UP
Many workplaces acknowledge the importance of a good old cup o’ joe to grease the wheels of productivity. You should first be using ethically sourced and sustainable coffee beans, but it’s also important to consider how your coffee is brewed.
If you’re using disposable coffee filters, consider replacing them with a reusable alternative.
If you use a pod-based coffee machine, these can greatly increase your waste volume (and not all pods are made from recyclable materials), fortunately, there are reusable coffee pods which can be used with these machines. Simply add ground coffee. Or, better yet, invest in a whole bean, bean-to-cup coffee machine!
Not only does it eliminate the need for filters, but the coffee they produce also tastes fantastic.
4. INSTALL MOTION-ACTIVATED LIGHTS
When a light is on but nobody’s there, that’s pretty much the definition of energy waste. You can drive down your energy use by installing motion-activated lights in rooms that are seldom visited (supply rooms, bathrooms, stationery cupboards, etc.).
This change can drive down your energy use resulting in a reduced carbon footprint and lower utility bills.
It also might be worth looking into more energy-efficient bulbs, too! LED lights and CFL lights are infinitely more energy-efficient than the fluorescent bulbs that are commonly used in workplaces – and more conducive to employee health, too!
5. MAKE THE MOST OF NATURAL LIGHT
In addition to installing new bulbs and motion-activated lights, you should also make use of the natural light available whenever possible in your office.
Natural light is also a huge office perk, instilling a feeling of good health, calm and wellbeing amongst employees. According to the Harvard Business Review, a survey by HR advisory firm Future Workplace reveals that employees want more natural light in their offices. In a research poll of 1,614 North American employees, it was found that access to natural light and viewsare the number one attribute of the workplace environment, outranking things like onsite cafeterias, fitness centers, and game rooms.
Make sure that the blinds are left open during daylight hours and do all that you can to make the most of the natural light available to you.
6. INVEST IN COMPOSTABLE PAPER PLATES
Whenever there’s an employee birthday (or any other occasion worth celebrating) it’s not uncommon for a big cake to start making the rounds. Employees will be lining up with paper plates to claim their slice of deliciousness – but think carefully about the paper plates in use.
Some brands are recyclable, many are not. What’s more, when many paper plates are being thrown into landfill they can take a long time to biodegrade while bleached paper plates can potentially leach harmful chemicals into our oceans when thrown into a landfill. Invest in compostable paper plates that will biodegrade quickly and safely when disposed of.
7. DISPOSE OF YOUR E-WASTE RESPONSIBLY
E-waste is extremely damaging to the environment when disposed of in landfills.
It can leak harmful cobalt and cadmium into our oceans with a disastrous effect on marine wildlife and plant life. Make sure you work with a local e-waste disposal company to ensure that your old computers, calculators and office equipment is dealt with responsibly. You can also donate functional, outdated hardware to another local business or non-profit.
8. INVEST IN A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
A programmable thermostat has the capability to automatically adjust the temperature of your workplace when no one is working. Less air conditioning or heat usage can result in significant savings for your business and reduce your carbon footprint. A bonus benefit is that your employees won’t be fighting over who is controlling the thermostat because technically, no one is!
9. USE A CERTIFIED GREEN CLEANING BUSINESS
Finally, we have a tip that is near and dear to our hearts. The way in which you clean your office makes a huge difference on your company’s environmental impact!
Some cleaning products use harsh chemical cleaners which can leach dangerous compounds into the environment.
These harsh chemicals affect indoor air and water quality. Conventional cleaning materials have the potential to get into our waterways and pollute them while also releasing gases that can pollute the air that you breathe and contribute to ozone depletion.
Green cleaning materials are made with natural, plant-based and eco-friendly materials, which makes it easy to identify the components of the cleaning agents that you are using.
Also, green cleaning materials are usually made with similarly green packaging – meaning, the packaging is either minimal or made from recycled material, which reduces energy usage and your environmental impact.