Creating a greener workplace means a lighter ecological footprint, while providing a healthier and more productive environment for everyone you work with. Contrary to popular belief, a greener workplace can also save money for the company as well. Not only will it help the bottom line, but with all the controversy surrounding global warming and protecting the environment, your customers and clients will appreciate the effort. There are a lot of simple steps you can take to make the workplace eco-friendly.
A Greener Commute
American workers spend up to 3.7 billion hours, and over 23 billion gallons of gas, commuting to work. This results in a lot of air pollution that we breathe in every day. You can do your part to combat air pollution by taking public transport, walking, biking, or carpooling - which is also a great way to build better relationships with your co-workers, while saving money on gas. If none of these options are possible, you should think about getting a hybrid or electric vehicle.
Add Some Greenery
Putting plants in your work space is a great way to add some life while beautifying the area. Plants not only help keep the air clean, but add a nice touch to your office. It can be something as simple as putting fresh flowers on your desk, or putting a larger plant in the corner of your office. Creating a greener landscape on the outside is a great way to help the environment while giving the workplace a more aesthetic look. Even pictures of nature can have a positive effect in the workplace. Studies have shown that images of nature can boost your cognitive abilities, while helping stay relaxed and focused.
Although recycling seems obvious and is something everyone should be doing by this point, there are still many workplaces that have no recycling policy. Go over the guidelines, and make sure they’re followed properly. If there are no policies regarding recycling, then take the initiative and implement a plan yourself. Make sure the proper bins are available to separate papers and recyclables from other trash. Ink cartridges and other office supplies can be returned for store credit, saving the company money while keeping the earth cleaner. You can also repurpose supply containers for storage.
This doesn't mean eating more vegetables, although that is healthier. It means using reusable containers to bring lunch to work. You can also keep a reusable plate and utensils at work to minimize waste. When ordering takeout or delivery, it will inevitably leave a small mountain of garbage. If you do decide to order out, ask other staff if they want to join so you can place one big order instead of several small ones, saving gas, time and cutting down on plastic bags. When going out to lunch, try to find somewhere close to work so you can walk or ride a bike instead of driving.
Use Less Energy
In this day and age, computers and other electrical devices have become the central tools used at most work places. By setting your computers to energy-saving settings, they will automatically shut down the day is done - the 'standby' setting still uses energy. You can use a power strip with an on/off switch for plugging in hardware, so everything can be turned on and off at the same time. For devices that are only occasionally used, like printers or scanners, unplug them when not being used. Instead of the bright overhead lights you usually find in workplaces, switch to compact fluorescent bulbs. And don't forget to turn off the lights in areas that are not being used.
It's amazing how much paper waste is still produced in this 'digital age.' Although using recycled paper helps, using no paper is the best option. Instead of using file cabinets filled with paperwork - which can also be a real pain to move and organize - keep files backed up on your computer. If you're worried about your computer crashing and losing everything, you can save them on the cloud. Most businesses have some kind of cloud account,where you can access your files whenever and wherever you are. Try to avoid printing by reviewing documents online, and send emails instead of letters. The more work you do online, the less paper you will use. Even recycled paper uses up a lot of energy, water, and chemicals when being made.
Use Green Supplies
Nowadays, you will find almost all office supplies have recycled versions. Whether it's paper, pens and pencils, or markers, highlighters and ink cartridges, you can find everything you need at a price not much different than non-recycled items. But why stop at just office supplies? You can also find eco-friendly items for the kitchen and bathroom as well, including biodegradable soaps, recycled toilet paper, and cloth towels. There are a number of non-toxic cleaning products that are not only environmental-friendly, but are just as good as toxic cleaning supplies. If your office still uses a cleaning service, go for those who use eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Buying in bulk can also help cut down on waste.
Work From Home
It may not always be possible, but working from home is a great way to save energy and time while cutting down on waste and pollution. Since technology now allows us to work from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection, working from home has become easier than ever. It will save time from commuting while cutting down on air pollution. You can eat in your kitchen and cut out the waste that comes from ordering out. If possible, consolidate your work week and try working 4 ten-hour days so you can enjoy 3-day weekends. Best of all, you can work in your pajamas.
Make a Green Team
One person doing everything they can to make a positive change is good; getting your colleagues to do the same is greater. Think about creating a green team where everyone in the office can get involved. If everyone has a green job they are responsible for, it is easier to get everyone on board. Start at the top, make sure they support the effort and communicate this to the rest of the staff. When presenting the green initiative to your co-workers, make sure you take time to explain why it's important to make these changes. Telling someone to print less without explaining why, and the effect it has on the environment, will probably leave them less inclined to do so. Office culture can be hard and slow to change, so be patient and consistent.
Although making these changes can be difficult, it doesn't mean it’s impossible. Saving the environment is serious work, but you can still have fun while doing it. Try using friendly competition to motivate co-workers, and use incentives to get them excited. You can also create fun events like Bike to Work Day and Potluck Day. It is more important now than ever to get involved in saving the environment, and why not have some fun while doing it?
Do you have any green tips to share? Let us know in the comments below.