Going green at work might seem harder than it actually is. Being environmentally friendly isn’t a personal endeavor — it’s also an excellent way to save some money. That’s something your bosses are sure to get on board with. If you’re stuck, we’ve got eight ideas to get you started. They’re simple, effective and you can get everyone involved!
- Trash the Single-Use Items
Your office kitchen might be full of plastic utensils, plastic cups, straws, ketchup packs and who knows what else. If you work with adults, then it should be reasonable to think they can wash their own dishes, and you can probably get rid of the disposable ones. Instead of tossing them, move them to a less-convenient location like the supply room. They’ll still be useful for parties or celebrations, but they’ll be harder to use. That increase in difficulty almost guarantees those dishes will see less use.
- Use Motion Sensors
Leaving the lights on happens, but they’re especially prevalent in supply rooms, closets and bathrooms. Installing motion sensors can prevent those spaces from sucking up extra energy. It might not be something you want to use in the entire office, but even one or two motion sensors can make a difference.
- Buy in Bulk
If you need office supplies, you have to repurchase them again and again. Try doing so a little less often by buying in bulk. Most of the stuff you need — like pens, sticky notes, computer paper and ink cartridges — don’t take up much space.
- Unplug After Work
While it’s always good to avoid using your phone or laptop after work, this refers to unplugging your desktops and lamps when you go home. Some offices will still even leave their computers on! If you’re serious about cutting waste in the office, try installing power-down management software on computers at work. If they’re networked, then they’ll all shut down at the same time. It’s not as good as unplugging them, but it’ll make sure no one forgets completely.
- Open the Windows
Natural light is easier on the eyes than bright fluorescent bulbs, and it can give your employees a beautiful view of the day. Everyone can take a break to watch the storm roll in, depending on the weather. Either way, most office workers are there during the day. There’s no sense in using more lighting than you need.
Being able to look at a natural scene has been shown to lower stress levels in day-to-day life. You might even help prevent your employees and co-workers from calling off sick on beautiful days.
- Use Recycled Paper Items
It’s inevitable that your office is going to use paper products, so buy recycled options as much as you can. You can even get recycled toilet paper and paper towels! You might not want to switch over everything, but at least take a chance and try them out. You can always go back if the recycled options don’t work out, but you’ll probably be surprised at how good they are.
Work in your pajamas! Obviously, this isn’t an option for everyone on a daily basis — but if you have a job where you can work from home on occasion, you should take advantage of it. Talk your boss into it, offer the option up to your employees and let people know which days work well for that. You’d have to set some parameters, but it can help cut your carbon footprint. A gallon of gas in a car equates to 24 pounds of CO2 released into the atmosphere. Stay home when you can!
- Avoid Printing
If there isn’t a legal or personal reason to print something, don’t do it. There are still people who will print out just about every single thing they come across. Some people need to, especially if they have a hard time reading on a screen. Even then, they can still work to save paper.
If you need to print things, try and make it easier on the planet. Use the smallest font you can, set the printer quality to draft and use double-sided printing. If you’re sending emails, think about including something in your signature. A simple “Please consider the environment before printing” can deter a lot of waste.
You don’t have to be Captain Planet to help save the world. You can, however, encourage a more eco-friendly work environment — and make an enormous impact on your community.
Guest Post from Kate Harveston a talented political journalist and blogger at Only Slightly Biased