Employees at Amazon made headlines last week by organising a walkout to demand action on climate change. Within days, Jeff Bezos made a pledge to become carbon-neutral by 2040. This shows the power of employees to bring about eco-friendly changes in their office.
With ongoing climate action strikes and Recycle Week kicking off this week, now is the time to analyse the environmental impacts of your workplace. While major organised action like the Amazon climate walkouts are crucial to demand change, there are also everyday changes to bring about in your office today to make it greener and more eco-friendly.
Let’s start with recycling, since it is Recycle Week after all. Most of us know the importance of ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ and are rolling up our sleeves to help — but we’re not always helping. Research by the British Science Association shows that while Brits are more aware than ever of how recycling can help the planet, the majority are putting out contaminated recycling due to common misunderstandings, which is doing more harm than good.
To encourage proper recycling behaviour in the workplace, think about hanging up posters that explain what can and can’t be recycled, or send around friendly email reminders. Another option is to team up with a sustainable cleaning partner, which can sort all your company’s waste on your behalf.
It’s getting easier than ever before to switch up your commute with schemes such as Cycle to Work, but if you must drive, perhaps you could think of carpooling to work as a way to reduce your carbon footprint. On a wider level, you could speak to your organisation’s leaders about preparing sustainable travel policies for work-related travel and ensuring that remote meeting practices are in place to avoid unnecessary travel.
Despite the increasing move to digital workplaces, every worker in the UK still consumes the equivalent of 4.48 trees per year. Talk to your co-workers about moving any remaining notebooks or meeting notes to the likes of Google Docs, or if you must print, encourage others to do it within reason. Double-check that all your office’s existing paper is FSC certified. This guarantees that your office’s paper comes from a sustainably managed forest.
Another habit-breaker to add to the list is to regularly unplug and switch off and to ensure the entire team is doing so. This means unplugging your charger and switching off your computer when you don’t need it. Even super small adjustments such as lowering your screen brightness can save power. And if you’re closing up the office, don’t forget to ensure the heating and air-con are switched off.
To offset indoor air pollution, greenify your office space with plants. If you’re worried about killing off yet another plant, you can opt for low-maintenance plants such as a money plant or a succulent. There are also online platforms such as Patch which can help you pick the right type of plant for your specific office environment.
For those spontaneous lunches on-the-go or coffee runs, reduce your waste by always having what you need on your desk. That means bringing your own reusable cup, Tupperware, bags and cutlery to work.
Team outings can be made greener too by for example planting trees, volunteering for environmental projects as a team, or organising sporting events to raise funds for green initiatives. Be creative with your team’s next social or away day!
Establish a green team within your office to ensure that employees feel comfortable taking part in some of the above eco-friendly office changes, but also to organise bigger environmental initiatives together.
Do you have any green ideas of your own to make an office more eco-friendly? Contact us to share the knowledge!
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