Make your Office Eco-friendly with these Sustainable Ideas
Greening up your office space might seem daunting at first. Unlike home, you do not have complete control of every element at the workplace. But, this shouldn’t stop you from doing your bit for the planet.
On average, Americans spend 34.4 hours every week at work. It’s only ethical to fulfill our environmental responsibilities at a place where we invest a significant part of our life.
That said, we don’t want you to mull over ‘going green’ as another office chore.
Here are some easy green initiatives you can take to cut down on carbon footprint at your office:
Save energy while you hustle
The best way to save energy is not to work at all.
While most of us love the idea of sacrificing work for the planet, it would get tough for eco-warriors to survive in this consumerist society.
Check out these energy-saving tips for work:
#1 Switch off the lights and unplug equipment when not in use
It is not only eco-friendly but also lowers your electricity bill.
Some appliances consume energy even when they are turned off. To avoid this phantom energy loss, make sure every device is unplugged before leaving the office.
Apart from computers and laptops, also check air conditioners, coffee vending machines, printer, and microwave.
#2 Adjust heating and cooling for optimal temperature
Ever notice colleagues dwelling in the office corridors wearing sweaters in summer?
It’s about time you cut down on air conditioning at work.
Do not keep a vast difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures. Not only will it help you save energy but also offer a more comfortable work environment.
When adjusting temperature settings, focus on central workspaces like bullpen rather than the storage or copier rooms.
If possible, use a programmable thermostat to adjust temperatures automatically when no one is around. Also, get the HVAC filter cleaned regularly for optimum performance and better air quality.
#3 Power your office with solar panels
Installing solar panels on the rooftop will help you offset energy costs significantly.
It may seem like a huge investment initially, but the returns will twofold in no time.
Solar power is renewable, healthier, and the setup requires little maintenance. It will help you cut down on electricity bills, earn tax credits and rebates with SRECs. Moreover, you can trade extra energy generated with utility companies.
#4 Switch to energy-saving LED lights and CFLs
Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with CFLs and LED lights at your office. They consume less power and last ten times longer.
#5 Install motion sensor lighting
It helps in saving energy in conference rooms and other sections where usually lights are left on despite being empty most of the time.
Motion sensor lights are both eco-friendly and efficient. They activate for a specific duration whenever someone enters the space.
#6 Perform an energy audit at the office
You can hire professional energy audit companies to assess your office energy consumption. They will help you figure out energy leaks, appliance efficiency, and suggest measures to curb energy wastage.
#7 Let the light in.
Naturally lit offices boost employee productivity and minimize the use of artificial lights. Make sure workstations are set up in a space with windows.
Open the blinds and let the daylight in!
Ditch the paperwork
Cut down paper use and embrace the digital era.
Switching to digital will help you streamline office chores and save trees while you’re at it.
#1 Use digital files and documents
Gone are the days when employees used to be buried neck-deep in paperwork. Cloud storage has made it easier to organize and access all the data from your laptop or mobile in a few clicks.
#2 Communicate digitally
Share memos via email; prepare meeting agendas in slideshows; upload employee manuals online. It is both time-saving and paper-saving.
#3 Use tree-free paper
For those who crave pen and paper feels should try sustainable alternatives like fiber-based papers made from bamboo, cotton, or agricultural waste. It helps in reducing the demand for wood-pulp paper and controlling deforestation.
#4 Buy recycled paper products
The truth is, no office can go completely paperless. However, you can get things done with recycled paper.
Printer or copier paper, business card, manila envelopes, or post-its: there is a recycled alternative available for all your stationery needs.
Green up the kitchen space
#1 Take conscious coffee breaks
Did you know that each disposable coffee cup is responsible for 0.25 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions?
Replace single-use paper cups with compostable cups at work. Even better, get into the habit of carrying a reusable coffee cup wherever you go.
You can also use recycled paper for coffee filters in your office.
#2 Use green kitchenware
Keep a set of reusable plates, glasses, and utensils for staff use. Also, make sure all the items are washed and regularly cleaned for prolonged use.
#3 Buy in bulk
Single-serving packets of sugar, creamer, salt, and pepper might be more convenient for office use, but they are costly and generate more waste. To avoid that, shop in bulk at grocery stores.
Place all the consumables in reusable glass jars or some other eco-friendly dispenser.
#4 Keep it green clean
Paper towels are commonly used for cleaning kitchen countertops. Use eco-friendly towels made from bamboo or sugarcane instead.
#5 Buy local office snacks
Locally sourced items are healthy both for the employees and the environment. They are organic, fresh, and will keep your energy level high.
#6 Carry a reusable office bag
Whether you want to carry lunch or office essentials, always use an eco-friendly office bag that gives back to earth. Check out our collection of sustainable tote bags.
Setup a Centralized Recycling Center
Pick a spacious room where you can place two separate containers for trash and recyclable items. Stick informational images on the bins to help folks easily segregate waste and understand what goes into each of them.
Alternatively, if you feel setting up large bins will cram up the office space, place mini recycling bins on every desk. You can also set up a recycling box in the copier room, staff room, and lunch area.
Conduct programs to educate staff about recycling the right way. You can also send emails, prepare presentations, or draft documents on it.
Switch to Green Office Supplies
Going green doesn’t mean you have to toss out all the plastic items and buy brand new eco-friendly supplies for the office. Instead, try to make the most out of existing resources, and when they wear out completely, replace them with sustainable alternatives. This way, you keep plastic out of the waste stream for as long as possible.
Here are some eco-friendly office supplies that you should stock up:
- Staple-free stapler
- Metal tape dispenser
- Refillable fountain pen or plantable seed pen
- Recycled paper products and file folders
- Non-toxic cleaner
- Bamboo push pins
- Reusable notebook
Electronics & Equipment Etiquette
#1 Use remanufactured cartridges in the printer
They are cost-effective and curb greenhouse emissions. Every remanufactured toner cartridge manages to keep three pounds of waste and 0.75 gallons of oil out of the landfill.
#2 Work better with computer
Enable sleep and power-saving mode in all the computers at your office.
Ask your colleagues to hibernate their laptops or computers before leaving the desk for breaks or meetings.
#3 Prefer portable air conditioners
A centralized air conditioning system is expensive and consumes more power. With portable air conditioners, you can set optimum temperature in individual rooms while avoiding energy waste in cooling corridors, storeroom, and other less occupied spaces.
#4 Use updated equipment
State-of-the-art gadgets and electronics might be expensive but offer excellent environmental benefits in the long haul. Outdated equipment, on the other hand, consumes unnecessary power while giving an average performance.
We understand that upgrading all the equipment is expensive, and the office might be in a budget crunch. In that case, get rid of electronics that have outlived their lifespan.
When buying new office equipment, look for energy star ratings to help you make a smart and conscious decision.
#5 Carefully dispose of electronics waste
Read this comprehensive guide on electronics recycling to dispose of old and obsolete laptops, computers, and other electronic items that are catching dust in some corner of your office.
Encourage Conscious Commute
Ask your colleagues and staff to practice green commute for work.
Carpooling, walking, and public transit are some of the common ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and cut down carbon footprint.
Companies can also introduce work from home and remote work policies to reduce employee travel. Although this might not be feasible in every workplace.
Make note that the environmental benefits of remote work are not just limited to minimized car emissions. It also helps in reducing food and clothing waste (hello pajamas!).
Add greenery to the desks
Indoor plants are perfect for office interiors! They are known to purify the surrounding air and boost productivity at work. Bringing nature indoors helps to combat stress, anxiety, and offer a happier environment.
The best thing about office plants is that they immediately uplift the desk and require low maintenance.
Let’s hear from you now! How do you make your office environment-friendly? Share your tips and ideas in the comments section below.