These days being environmentally friendly is hugely important for companies of all sizes and in all industries. This is not only because of the obvious benefits to the environment itself but also the benefits it brings to your business. Going green can help you save money, create a more positive working environment for your staff, and boost your reputation with clients and customers. Luckily, you can take lots of simple steps to minimize your office’s impact on the environment and make your business more eco-friendly and sustainable. Here are some ideas to get you started.
If you truly want to take green issues seriously and achieve effective action, setting up a sustainability team is a great first step. Having a group of people who are dedicated to making your company more environmentally friendly means that you are more likely to achieve significant results, plus it shows your employees, clients, and customers that you are 100% committed to going green. Just be sure to give this team the time and resources needed to make real change; otherwise, the impact will be minimal, and staff may feel discouraged.
Reducing the amount of paper you use in the office is one of the simplest steps you can take to both go green, reduce waste, and save some money on supplies. Encourage your staff to only print documents when necessary and print double-sided instead of single-sided when they have to print a file. Distribute meeting agendas and other documentation via email rather than physically handing them out, and purchase recycled paper for your printers. Going paperless also brings additional benefits such as reducing clutter in the office and making filing more efficient, so there genuinely is no reason not to do so.
Of course, it’s not possible to completely reduce all of your paper usage and other materials to zero, so it’s also important to have a good recycling system in place. Put recycling bins in prominent locations throughout the office to encourage staff to recycle rather than throw away their waste, and be sure to recycle larger office equipment such as computers wherever possible. Alternatively, you can donate your old equipment to a local charity. Depending on the industry you work in, getting a baler for large scale recycling of materials from a company such as recyclingbalers.com can be an effective investment.
Just like in our homes, reducing our energy usage in the office can be a great way to save both money and the environment. Many offices use far more energy than they actually require, so you might find this a particularly effective step to take. Encourage staff to get into the habit of turning off all their computers and other equipment when they go home in the evening rather than leaving them on standby, then switching them off at the wall socket. It’s a good idea to choose green suppliers for your energy if you can, too. Other possibilities include installing motion-activated lights, so they only come on when someone is nearby, not having the air conditioning on too high, and making the most of natural sunlight where possible.
As well as cutting down on energy usage, reducing water consumption is another key step to take. Try installing toilets with eco flush systems that use less water in office bathrooms, as well as taps with aerators that reduce the flow of water. Motion sensor water faucets can also be an effective way to save water and prevent taps from accidentally being left running. Check for leaking taps or toilets regularly and ensure they are promptly fixed because even the smallest leaks can add up to a surprising amount of water and money being wasted over time.
Being environmentally friendly is not just about what we don’t use; it’s about what we do use. Try and buy green products wherever you can, whether that’s cleaning products, printer ink, stationery, computer equipment, light bulbs, or installing hand dryers in the restrooms instead of using paper towels. Look for items that are made from recycled materials and in a sustainable manner, don’t include any chemicals that are harmful to the environment, and are energy efficient. It’s also helpful to have all your equipment regularly serviced to ensure everything is operating efficiently and avoid any wastage.
In order to ensure that all of the above suggestions make a meaningful and lasting impact, it’s vital to get as many people as possible in your company on board with the idea of going green. You can try putting up posters around the office to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior, add notes to the end of emails and documents asking people not to print them if it’s not necessary, or even holding monthly competitions between different teams to see who can reduce their paper usage the most. Just avoid being too patronizing or draconian, as this may have the opposite effect to the one you want!