Green office ideas: How to make your workplace more eco-friendly
The typical office isn’t always the most eco-friendly of environments. Fluctuating temperatures as people fight over the thermostat, computers being left on standby all night, and blazing fluorescent lights between the hours of 8am and 5pm. But it doesn’t have to be that way; there are plenty of changes you can make to bring a touch of green to your desk.
So if you’re an eco warrior at heart, here are a few ways you can set your sights on making a difference in your workplace.
Super quick tips that you can implement today
- Place recycling containers throughout the office – When you’re working all day it’s easy to get complacent. By having recycling containers placed at strategic locations – a paper box near the printer and a plastic and cans box in the kitchen – you’ll help make it easier to recycle. Also make sure you make an effort to recycle your used batteries as these shouldn’t be thrown in the standard waste bin
- BYOM (bring your own mug) – Rather than getting takeout coffees and teas, which can’t be recycled and have to be sent to landfill, encourage your staff to use real mugs, glasses, cutlery and dishes
- Bring plants into your office – Not only do they look great and help to brighten up the place, plants are responsible for the oxygen we breathe; incredibly useful!
- Green cleaning – Whether you clean your office yourself or employ a company, make sure you use green cleaning products that aren’t doing any damage to the environment
- Go paperless – Wherever possible, communicate electronically. Only print documents if you absolutely have to
- Use tech where you can – If you have client meetings, use projectors and laptops to show your work rather than printing off agendas and presentations. Your clients will appreciate this as they won’t have to carry bundles of paper back too
- Switch off – This should go without saying but switching off your laptops, computers and lights at the end of the day can make a huge difference. It may not feel like much, but if everyone in the office does it, it all adds up
Tips for the long run
Start a sustainability team
Chances are there’s more than one person in your office who’s passionate about green living, so harness that enthusiasm and give them a place to go wild. A team that is totally dedicated to sustainability in your office can both raise awareness and accomplish more. Some projects they could get started with include expanding your recycling program and helping to inform purchasing decisions. Weekly or monthly inspections can help make sure your efforts are continuing.
Look at your suppliers
Whether you’re a business owner or work from home as a freelancer, it’s always a good time to look at who is supplying your power. Green sources of energy such as wind and solar energy are more accessible than ever before, and now it’s possible to switch to a supplier who guarantees their energy is coming from renewable sources. And don’t worry about price either; green plans are actually very competitively priced even compared to more traditional sources.
Think about your lighting
The only light that isn’t going to have some kind of impact on the environment – and cost you nothing – is natural light. So wherever possible try and have large windows and natural light streaming in to illuminate your office.
If all natural isn’t possible, there are other options for you. Make sure all the bulbs in the office are LEDs. You could install smart power strips at each desk, and considering adding sensors and timers onto your main lights so they work automatically.
Commuting to and from work isn’t the most sustainable of practices. And in reality a fair few of your employees will live close enough to get into the office by cycling, but more often than not it’s the cost of a bike that can put people off making the effort. Thankfully, as their employer, there are a few things you can do to help.
Start by signing up to Cyclescheme; a government-subsidised scheme that helps people buy their new bike tax-free. Another big help is to buy the bike for them and allow them to pay it off over time by taking small regular payments out of their monthly salary.
Did you know that computers and other related pieces of tech account for 3 – 4% of the world’s carbon emissions? What’s even more shocking is that’s more than the aviation industry which often gets a lot of negative attention. So if you’re looking to reduce your business’ carbon footprint, changing the computers you use can really make a world of difference.
Before you buy, make sure you head to Gooshing UK. It’s a website run by the Ethical Company Organisation and it shows you the ethical and environmental record of various computer manufacturers. The Greenpeace website will also be able to help you find out which manufacturers use the least amount of toxic chemicals during the hardware manufacturing process.
If you’re a large company, then chances are you’re going to be using a data centre which houses your servers. Unfortunately this is likely to be one of the worst environmental offenders due to the huge racks of machines that need to be powered and cooled simultaneously.
Now this isn’t something you’re going to be able to give up, but you can ask some questions to your data centre to find out whether they use some kind of eco cooling system or an energy efficient hardware. If they don’t, you could always shop around for a new place or suggest they make some changes.