Did you know that the average person spends over 90,000 hours of their lives at work? That’s a lot of time, right?
Instead of focusing all of our sustainability efforts on just being greener at home, maybe we should also put an effort into going green in the office, right?
It’s really not that hard. Check out these seven simple ways to get started:
1. GO DIGITAL!
Did you know that 45% of printouts end up in bins by the end of the day? That’s a lot of paper.
One simple way of reducing paper waste is to send e-copies of documents and use online forms and file-sharing platforms instead of printing.
If you have to print, always make sure to set the office printer settings to print double-sided and in grayscale mode. Also, always use paper recycled paper such as those that have 100% post-consumer waste paper content.
2. GROW SOME PLANTS
If you’re able, bring in a desk plant.
Plants produce more oxygen, offsetting any chemicals released into the air.
Plants do not just improve the indoor air quality, they also improve mood and overall office aesthetic. They create a cleaner, happier space for your people to work in.
3. BYO REUSABLE PLATES, CONTAINERS, CUPS AND CUTLERY
Did you know that about 6 million tonnes of single-use disposables get thrown out every year?
Yes! That’s how our culture of convenience destroys our environment and we have to do something about it.
Think of how often you buy food back to the office, and all the single-use plastic you get along with it. Instead, bring your own food and utensils. Not only will you save a lot of money, you will also drastically reduce the amount of plastic that go to the landfill.
If your office provides disposable products in the staff kitchen, why don’t you suggest replacing these with real and reusable plates, cups, and utensils?
If you need to make the business case to management to get approval for this, look at how much you spend each year on disposables and compare that to how much it will cost to purchase a set of plates, glasses, and utensils. The change will usually pay for itself in a short period of time.
4. START A COMPOSTING PROGRAM
Have you ever considered how much food waste your workplace generates?
Imagine those large amounts of sandwich crusts, apple cores and coffee grounds get tossed out with the office garbage. These food wastes end up in the landfill and contribute to climate change. Food waste that decomposes in landfills releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is at least 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Implementing a composting program in the workplace has more than just environmental benefits. It also promotes a positive company culture by giving your colleagues a sense of purpose. When employees feel they are making a positive impact on the community, environment or world as a whole, engagement increases.
5. TRY GREEN COMMUTING
Due to COVID-19 pandemic, majority of businesses were shut down, forcing millions to work from home.
There was a significant change in the atmosphere and greenhouse gas emissions since fewer people go to work. However, since most economies have slowly opened up, these emissions have started to go up again.
By choosing to walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit to the office, we are lowering our emissions.
Green commuting is fun, sustainable, and good for your personal health and well-being. By being aware of why green commuting is a good idea, knowing your options for a sustainable commute, and planning ahead, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying a whole new type of healthier commute.
6. SUPPORT LOCAL
Shift as many of your business purchases as possible to support local and sustainable vendors.
Whether it’s your office purchases, or the caterer that you use for business lunches, supporting local businesses is an important way to keep money circulating within the local economy.
There’s no question that the job market is tight these days, and by shopping local, you are keeping a business open. By shopping local, you are giving people in your own community jobs.
So think about that next time you debate between buying an item at a local shop versus ordering one that is slightly cheaper at a big box store.
7. CREATE A GREEN TEAM
The best way to encourage a culture of sustainability at work is to recruit like-minded individuals and create your very own green team!
A green team will give you and your coworkers an opportunity to contribute to the development and implementation of your sustainability initiatives. Make it educational and fun. Way to go!
Jomay Amora-Dueck is a Climate Reality Leader based in Winnipeg. She is the creator of sustainable simplicity blog, ecoisthome.com. If you want to chat about food, zero waste living, social and climate justice, or Climate Reality presentation, simply email her at email@example.com.