If you work in an office, you may have noticed that you and your colleagues use a lot of paper, leave the lights on a lot, or throw away a lot of things that could be recycled. If so, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that offices generate a huge amount of waste on a daily basis. Even if you work from home or a co-working space, it can be difficult to keep track of your environmental footprint. Unfortunately, we’re all constantly generating waste, overusing resources, and unconsciously hurting the earth through the things that we purchase. But the good news is that we can, somewhat easily, change the way we consume and utilize resources in our offices and workspaces to reduce that footprint.
While we’d love to encourage you to get your company on board with a large-scale sustainability program, in the meantime, there are simple changes you can make right now to kick off 2016 on an environmentally-friendly foot:
Be conscientious about office supplies
Did you know the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year? Paper and cardboard account for almost 40 percent of our overall waste. The best solution to this problem is to reduce (or even eliminate!) office paper use, though this may not be possible for every office. If it’s an option for yours, here are some tips on how you can reduce paper waste. It it’s not, be conscious about purchasing recyclable paper for your offices.
Bathroom & kitchen supplies
For dish or bathroom soap, try products from method. For toilet paper, paper towels, or disposable tableware, opt for Seventh Generation. Both offer eco-friendly and affordable alternatives to the products that you use on a daily basis.
Choose compact fluorescent bulbs for office lighting, as these use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents, and last anywhere from 3-25 times longer.
Coffee & tea
If your office serves coffee and/or tea, go for local roasters rather than the big names. Shopping small business is good for the local economy and your community in general – learn more about the benefits here.
If you already purchase eco-friendly office products, what is your go-to source? Share with us in the comments, and we’ll pass along the word to our community!
Minimize employee transportation
Transportation has a significant impact on the environment. Each day, Americans use over 2.9 billion gallons of gas, due in large part to the fact that 77% insist on driving alone to work. Luckily, there are ways you can reduce that – here are a few options:
Share a ride to work
Whether you opt for public transportation or carpooling, sharing rides makes a huge difference. It reduces traffic congestion, uses less gas, and decreases fuel emissions. If you’re an employer who is looking to incentivize ride sharing, try subsidizing public transportation costs for your employees.
Bike to work
If you live in a place where it’s an option, biking is the most environmentally friendly, financially smart, and health-conscious option. Here are some of the environmental benefits of biking rather than driving a car to work. If you’re an employer, consider offering bike parking to make it easier on your employees who are interested in biking.
Work from home
If your company offers an option to work remotely, try it out! If you can’t bike, this is clearly the best way to reduce the environmental effects of car transportation.
Keep energy usage low
Use your thermostat
Rather than keeping your office the same temperature at all times, utilize the feature that turns on heat or air conditioning at specific times and turns off automatically at the end of the day. Tip: Set it to start a bit before anyone gets into the office, and no one will even feel the difference.
Turn off your electronics
In many offices, computers are left on all the time – even after hours. Encourage your employees or co-workers to shut down at night before they leave. Also, unplug lamps, chargers, and other electronics whenever you’re able as well – they use “stand-by power” when plugged in, even if not in use. If everyone in the office makes these small changes, it’ll make a big difference over time.
Reduce, reuse & recycle
Start a recycling program at the office
According to the EPA, about 80 to 90 percent of solid waste is recyclable in the average workplace. Whether you start with setting out recycling bins in highly trafficked areas (such as near the printer and in the kitchen), or launch a full-fledged office recycling program, taking this initiative will greatly reduce your office’s environmental footprint.
If there’s a kitchen in your office, it’s very possible you’re throwing away a lot of things that could be composted and used differently. You can keep compost in-office for fertilizing your plants, or take it home with you to use in your own garden. If this is an option for you, here’s a great guide to office composting.
Do you have innovative ideas for how companies can reduce their environmental footprint right now? Share with us! We want to know every tip in the book.
If your company is looking to invest in a larger-scale sustainability program, or even if you’d like some support in implementing these ideas, we can help. Get in touch with us here.