5 steps to creating a more eco-friendly workplace

Kerrie-Anne Chinn, Content & Editorial Manager

With concerns about climate change and the Earth’s natural resources rising, many people are making more eco-friendly choices in their everyday lives.

In living a greener lifestyle, there’s a focus on opting for ethical, environmentally aware decisions that work to lessen your negative impact on the environment, rather than contribute to it. While individually, these choices may only make a small difference to the environment, they can have a huge impact on the planet collectively.

Considering we spend a significant percentage of our time at work, it’s important to make these positive changes in our work environment, as well as at home. Thankfully, many organizations are looking for ways to make their workplaces greener and are seeing the benefits of these changes for both their employees and the business itself.

Making a commitment to more ethical and eco-friendly choices, no matter how small, shows clients and customers that your organization cares about people, and the planet. And in financial terms, implementing green strategies that reduce, reuse and recycle can also be good news for a company’s bottom line.

Taking the time to make your workplace greener is also good for your employees, with a healthier, more productive work environment and a positive organizational culture. Companies that promote a healthier workplace report a 20 percent decrease in the number of sick days used by employees. In addition, focusing more on your environmental impacts can also help to attract and retain employees to your company, with a more attractive brand to potential staff.

So let’s take a look at 5 ways to create a more eco-friendly workplace and make your office greener.

Lower Your Company’s Energy Consumption

Computers, printers and other office electronics use up huge amounts of energy. Organizations that focus on reducing this energy consumption not only help the environment, but also reduce their costs in the form of lower energy bills.

Encourage staff to turn off all lights, air conditioners and heaters when they leave meeting rooms or at the end of the day. You could put up energy-awareness stickers and posters reminding employees to switch off lights and equipment when not needed.

Set company computers to energy-saving settings and encourage a practice of shutting down computers when team members leave for the day – using ‘standby’ settings will continue to draw power even when not in use.

Promote Recycling in the Workplace

Make recycling a priority in the office, as it is at home. Some of us are perfectly diligent recyclers at our own house, then let our good habits slip when we’re at work.

To promote and encourage recycling, make sure that there are enough paper recycling bins throughout the office for all staff to easily recycle their waste paper. In open plan offices, have at least one paper recycling bin for every ten desks, with extra paper recycling bins next to each photocopier and printer.

Speaking of printers, be sure to recycle all of your used printer and toner cartridges as well as e-waste in the form of computers, printers and other electronic equipment.

As much as possible, use recycled paper and envelopes that have been processed and coloured using eco-friendly methods.

Reduce Office Waste

As well as recycling, reducing the amount of waste from your workplace will work to lessen your carbon footprint and lower business costs.

Reduce waste by reusing materials as much as possible – stationery items, folders, boxes, paper, everything you can. Use items for as long as possible before throwing them out.

The average American office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. Reduce the amount of paper waste by promoting double-sided copying and printing, posted within readable distance of each photocopier and printer.

Be aware of the waste generated by food packaging, particularly those take-away coffee cups you get from your local coffee shop. Take your own reusable travel mug or keep cup with you on your coffee runs.

Switch to Chemical-Free Products

Take a look at the cleaning products that are used in your workplace.

Many cleaning products, particularly heavy duty workplace cleaners, are full of chemicals that pollute our air, oceans and rivers and contaminate food sources for animals as well as the natural environment. They’re also likely to be packaged in non-biodegradable materials, which take a very long time to break down, further damaging the planet.

By switching to environmentally-friendly products, you’ll reduce the amount of chemicals and toxins employees are exposed to in the office, which benefits staff health while lowering environmental impact.

Go Digital

What’s better than recycled paper? No paper.

Cut the amount of paper used in your workplace by keeping things digital as much as possible. Incorporate minimizing paper use into your workplace culture and be sure to lead by example.

Email important documents to colleagues and clients. Use presentations rather than handouts at meetings. Store manuals and policy documents online, so employees can access PDF copies instead. Make use of online training courses, rather than in-class sessions requiring employee handbooks and printed course materials.

There’s so many things you can do to make your office space greener. Hopefully this has got you thinking about some positive changes you can make in your workplace, to start creating an organizational culture that values responsible, ethical and sustainable choices.


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