Today, sustainability is more of a necessity than a choice. Many people are adopting new habits in their homes and personal lives, but it shouldn’t stop there. Workplaces can also make a difference. Even the smallest changes create a healthier, greener, more productive work environment. Whether you’re an employee or the boss, start promoting green practices in the office. I’ve put together 10 ways to go green in the workplace:
Start by using less paper. Make an effort to use electronic sheets whenever possible. Allow laptops in meetings, or use a projector for important documents instead of printing out copies for everyone. You can even invest in a fax modem so you can send and receive paperless documents. Try using Google Docs or Dropbox to start sharing files throughout the office.
Update your printing habits. When you absolutely must print, do so in draft mode since it uses far less ink. Also, set your default to print double-sided. Buy recycled paper and only print what you know you’ll need. Accidentally misprint? Use this as something to take notes with, or shred it for use as packaging material instead of packaging peanuts.
Change your commute. If it’s a possibility for you to walk or bike to work, do it! It’s an easy way to add more exercise to your day and avoid the frustrations of rush hour traffic. If you have to drive, consider setting up a carpooling schedule with your coworkers. Research public transportation near you, or think about investing in a hybrid. Even better, work from home if your office allows it. One day a week can greatly cut down gast waste.
Turn off your computer. Some people don’t completely shut down their PCs when they leave work for the day, and this is a huge waste of energy. When you know you’ll be away for a little bit, switch it to sleep or hibernation mode. If possible, replace your PC with a laptop since they use 80% less energy and are much easier to transport. When it’s time to get rid of your computer, recycle it! Look for a local e-waste drive or find an organization that properly disposes of electronic waste.
Take advantage of natural light. During a bright sunny day, don’t waste electricity on the lights. Turn them off and just enjoy the natural light. If it’s too dark to do this, invest in LED or fluorescent bulbs. Many offices have motion sensor lights that only turn on when someone walks in the room; when there hasn’t been any activity, the sensors turn the lights off. If you don’t have these, post reminders near light switches so people turn off the lights when they leave.
Decorate with plants. Greenery around the office makes the space look more inviting, plus it offsets CO2 and VOC emissions. Pro tip: save used coffee grounds and use these to feed the plants.
Use reusable water bottles and containers. Instead of packing your lunch in a paper/plastic bag or aluminum foil, package it in tupperware. Don’t waste money on buying water in plastic bottles – get a reusable bottle! Bring a coffee mug from home into your office so you can cut back on using paper cups.
Dress in layers in cold weather and use fans during warm weather. Ceiling and desk fans are a great way to cut down the use of air conditioning. In colder months, dress in layers so you can avoid turning up the heat.
Place recycling bins around the office. Provide ways for people to properly dispose of paper, cans, and glass. Placing these around the workspace will make recycling as easy as throwing something away.
You can even go green with your wardrobe. Avoid buying clothes that need dry cleaning. If they do, look for shops that have green methods. Buy used clothes, and look for items made of organic fibers like cotton, silk, hemp, or wool. You can even find clothing made of recycled materials.
There are lots of ways to go green in your workplace, you just have to put in a little bit of effort. Your clients will love hearing about your green practices, and you’ll find that people work better. In fact, a study from Harvard found that when offices adopt more sustainable practices, employees get a 26% boost in cognition and 30% fewer sickness related absences. As the study states, “The increased productivity of an employee is 150 times greater than the resulting energy costs.”
Enter into spring with the goal of creating an environmentally friendly workplace. Make it a team effort by encouraging your coworkers to take part. If you’re local, help us work to go green with our e-waste drive!