What’s the carbon footprint of the average office? Like many things, it’s hard to calculate the exact environmental impact. But as environmental awareness increases amongst the general public, it’s something that more and more organizations are thinking about.
There are many benefits to providing environmentally-friendly office spaces. This is relevant even if you’re working from home, in the new pandemic landscape where many of our working lives have changed considerably.
Read on for our top 5 tips on how to improve the sustainability of your office space. It’s easier than you might think!
1. Recycle Office Waste
Recycling rates in the US are not that great. Despite 94% of Americans saying that they support recycling, the actual rate of household waste that is recycled is around 34%.
When you’re working from home, you might have systems set up to recycle your plastic and paper. But in the office, these good habits seem to evaporate in a lot of cases.
Employers should be ensuring that recycling bins are available and located in convenient places around the office. Employees should also be aware of the rules of what can and can’t be recycled.
Fundamentally, though, recycling alone won’t solve our problems. Global waste management is a huge issue, with plastic recycling regularly being exported to developing countries that don’t have the infrastructure to process it. Reusing and reducing waste is a much more powerful strategy.
Encouraging staff to use reusable coffee cups is a good first step. Reducing paper usage is another key strategy (more on this later).
Plenty of things can be reused, like binders and document wallets. Even unwanted office furniture can be donated to be used again.
2. Switch to Green Office Supplies
There are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to traditional office supplies. If you’re unable to persuade everyone to use reusable coffee cups and water bottles, you could look at compostable cups rather than plastic-coated ones, which can’t be recycled.
Additionally, you can choose recycled paper for all paper products, including print paper, paper towels, and notebooks. It may be a little more expensive, but it’s worth it to save our planet’s trees from destruction.
3. Reduce Paper Use and Discourage Printing
A lot of offices have now simply just reduced the number of printers that they have to discourage people from mindlessly printing documents that they don’t really need hard copies of. This will probably elicit some grumbling, but as a strategy to reduce paper and energy use, it does work.
For companies that rely heavily on a lot of paperwork, you could try implementing a digital document management system. Another option is to encourage double-sided printing or set this as the default on all your printers. You can find out more about how to do this at https://setapp.com/.
A lot of people add a footer to their emails, reminding people to think carefully before they print out emails. If we all work together, we can change the culture and move towards a paperless world. The technology exists, it’s just that our habits haven’t quite caught up yet.
4. Switch to Renewable Energy
Like many of these tips to develop a more eco-friendly office, this one can be applied either at home or at the office. There are a few options to consider to make the shift to renewable energy sources.
Many electricity providers now offer eco-friendly options where you can be assured that all your power is sourced via renewable energy, including solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. This is an easy option; just search for a renewable option online and switch suppliers. Often, it’s also cheaper too.
Another option is to install solar panels at your home or at your office building. There are many advantages to this. The set-up cost has reduced considerably in recent years, meaning this is no longer a barrier to implementation.
In the long term, solar power will save you money and boost the value of your property. This is a great sustainable option to reduce the carbon footprint of your workspace.
5. Consider Your Commute
A lot of knowledge workers have been able to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. But this can’t go on forever; we all know that some face-to-face contact with our colleagues helps productivity and fosters good relationships.
So as we tentatively begin to return to the office, what can we do to make our commutes more eco-friendly? There are plenty of options that employers can support and facilitate, such as carpooling and cycling.
Having dedicated parking for bicycles, as well as providing showering and changing facilities will encourage people to consider cycling to work. Workplaces can arrange buddy schemes for carpooling or even for walking. Not all staff members will feel comfortable walking to and from the office alone, particularly during the winter when the mornings and evenings are dark.
All these strategies save energy and reduce carbon emissions, as well as promote health and well-being. And healthier staff will be happier and more productive, so it’s a win-win situation!
Sustainable Development Goals
Every company should consider how it can reduce its environmental footprint. We all know that the situation with regards to climate change and pollution is dire, and everyone has a responsibility to take action to save our planet for future generations.
It might be worth considering setting up a green focus group in your workplace, so staff and managers can work together to develop goals to increase the sustainability of the workspace. If people work together, they’re more likely to be successful. Personal action combined with corporate responsibility can produce powerful results.
Reap the Benefits of Environmentally-Friendly Offices
Environmental offices benefit everyone. A healthier working environment promotes positivity and wellness among employees. And fundamentally, everyone needs to do their bit to protect the environment and slow climate change.
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