Sustainability is important for looking after our planet and environment. Adopting sustainable practices can also reduce costs, making it a win-win for businesses. So here are some ways that you can make your office more sustainable and reduce your businesses carbon footprint!
1. Reduce paper waste
Going paperless is one way to become more sustainable. Paper waste is still a big issue in offices. Despite increased digitalisation, the average office worker still uses around 10,000 sheets of paper a year! And research by Xerox showed that around half of documents printed in offices are thrown away within 24 hours. So to reduce waste it is important to only use printouts where absolutely necessary and encourage further digitalisation with an electronic filing system. And if you do need to print something, make sure you are printing double-sided to save paper. A paper recycling bin should also be used in your office, as the good news is that paper can be recycled around 5 to 7 times before the quality degrades! So if you need to use paper in your office, always remind your employees to pop it in the recycling bin!
2. Have dedicated recycling bins
Leading on from the last point, having dedicated recycling bins in the office is another way to encourage sustainable practices. Recycling helps save materials from ending up in landfill and reduces water and air pollution. Make sure these bins are clearly labelled and easy to find. And place them in locations that make sense, such as positioning the paper recycling bin next to the printer.
3. Get rid of single use plastics
If your office offers single use plastics, such as cups and cutlery, you should reduce these or get rid of them completely if possible. Plastics often end up in landfill or in our oceans, causing pollution and posing harm to wildlife. Encourage employees to bring their own reusable bottles instead, and offer metal cutlery and share the dish-washing duties. This will reduce your company’s contribution to landfill and pollution.
4. Recycle office electronics
Whether a computer has broken, or you are looking to upgrade to more modern equipment, remember to recycle office electronics. Electronic waste (e-waste) poses a significant environmental hazard as they leak harmful toxins in landfills such as lead, which can pollute waterways. Some electronic manufacturers offer recycling programmes where you can post or drop-off your items to them. Or you can research recycling centres in your area that accept e-waste. Also remember if a computer or printer stops working, there is probably someone out there that can fix it. Consider this before throwing anything away to avoid unnecessary waste.
5. Buy recycled and refurbished equipment
Instead of buying brand new electronics for the office, you can try to buy refurbished items instead. Refurbished electronics tend to be in great condition and are a lot cheaper than buying brand new. So you are saving money, and saving items from landfill. You can also purchase recycled and second hand equipment such as furniture. This probably won’t be possible for all of your office equipment, but implementing this where you can will boost your offices sustainability.
6. Reduce energy usage
Employees should be encouraged to save energy in simple ways, such as putting their computers into sleep mode when they are away from their desks. This seems like a small thing, but it can add up. In fact, putting one computer into sleep mode can prevent 136kg of CO2 emissions per year. You should also remind everyone to turn off the lights in any rooms or corridors that aren’t in use, and shut down electronics properly before leaving at the end of the day. Reducing energy usage will of course also help your office save money in the long run, so it’s a win-win! Turning off lights that aren’t being used can actually reduce lighting costs by up to 15%! You could even put up signage around the office to act as a reminder for employees.
Another simple way to reduce energy usage is to swap out incandescent lightbulbs for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED lightbulbs where possible. These use around 75% less energy compared to standard incandescent lightbulbs, whilst giving the same amount of light output.
7. Encourage green commuting
Cars cause a lot of pollution. In fact, the average petrol car on the road in the UK produces the equivalent of 180g of CO2 every kilometre it travels, while a diesel car produces 173g of CO2/km. So, encouraging greener commuting methods to employees is another way to reduce your offices carbon footprint. Methods like car sharing, public transport, walking and cycling are all great for sustainable commuting. You may even want to offer some kind of incentive scheme to encourage employees to use these methods. Some companies have a cycle to work scheme where they provide employees with their own bicycle.
8. Allow flexible working
Allowing employees to work flexibly and do some of their job remotely means that you are cutting out commuting and reducing your companies carbon footprint. You have probably used this way of working during the pandemic, but if not there are great video conferencing software like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. These allow you to host meetings and keep in touch with employees that are working remotely.
9. Decorate with plants
Adding some plants is another way to create a sustainable office. Plants aren’t just nice decoration, they also clean the air by removing pollutants. This means that your office air quality is improved and employees are less likely to experience things like headaches. Plants have also been shown to reduce stress levels and increase productivity levels by 15%! If you want low-maintenance office plants, you can try plants that don’t require much watering such as cactus, spider plants and peace lilies. And try to make sure that everyone has a plant in view of their desk, so all employees can feel the benefits.
10. Hold a sustainability competition
Getting employees involved with competitions is a great way to drum up enthusiasm and to come up with new sustainability ideas. You could hold a innovation competition, and whoever comes up with the most innovative sustainability idea wins a prize. Or you could hold regular challenges to see which employee used green commuting the most, or who reduced their waste the most. Just make sure that the incentives or prizes you offer are meaningful to your employees, as this will increase their motivation. Competitions like these are a great way to make sustainability fun and engaging for employees.
We hope that this blog has given you some ideas on how to make your office more sustainable and eco-friendly! You should also begin to see some great cost-saving benefits once you implement these tips! Let us know in the comments if you have any ideas you would like to share.Tags: climatechange, green, office, recycle, refurbished, sustainability