04 May It Ain’t Easy Being Green: Building an Eco-Friendly Office
Most of us recycle, and are mindful of wasting water or using Styrofoam, or other environmentally-conscious things. But that’s usually on an individual level, in our homes.
While we might remember to recycle printed documents, sometimes there aren’t many more eco-friendly activities during the work day. But if you are committed, and creative, you can find a lot of little ways to make the corporate carbon footprint a bit smaller.
Here are ways to create an eco-friendly office:
Shut down. It’s obvious that you should turn off the lights at the end of the day. But too often we leave computers on standby, printers and copiers humming, and other electronics in a dormant mode. That means they continue to draw on electricity.
Either every employee should truly power down their computers and other personal devices, or have a process for shutting everything down, and then turning off the power.
Stay home. Telecommuting won’t work for every business, but in the digital age, it’s easier than ever to create an eco-friendly office by encouraging employees to work all or partly from home. Not only does the average American spend more than $2500 per year commuting, they’re increasing their carbon footprint. Consider how many meetings are held by videoconference, the enormous amount of communication by email and phone, and ask yourself how critical is it, really, to having people on-site.
More paperless. People are getting better about using less paper, printing double-sided, and working with recycled paper. But there are always opportunities to push to use even less paper.
[bctt tweet=”E-signatures are generally accepted and don’t require printing, signing and scanning back in, easily reducing ink and paper.”]
Comments to documents are easy to do online with popular software like Microsoft Word. You can even photograph documents and forward them on.
For departments like HR, more and more employment documentation can be done online, a big improvement to the hiring paperwork of yesteryear. So even if you use less paper than you used to, build an eco-friendly office by continuing to get creative and print even less.
Light(en) up. LED bulbs are more energy efficient, reducing energy consumption by 80-90%, and lasting up to 100,000 hours. Yes, it can be a higher up front cost (and many LED lamps have the bulb built in, so you’ll have to buy the whole device, not just replace traditional bulbs), but you’ll be using a lot less energy in the long run.
Clean green. It’s super easy to replace traditional office cleaning supplies with ones that are more natural, easier on the environment, and make use of recyclable containers. Many cleaning services specialize in eco-friendly cleaning. This has zero impact on your employees use of the workspace, while quietly creating a more eco-friendly office.
Train the team. If you make eco-friendly choices in the office place without communicating to team members, you’re missing an opportunity for others to be more conscious of their decisions. Offer people chances to be more aware of their habits. Stock the kitchen with fair trade coffee. Use recycled dining materials at lunch.
Encourage suggestions for more eco-friendly office habits. Help advertise opportunities to carpool. Designate a “green team” to meet regularly to discuss and recommend new initiatives.
Small steps make a big difference when creating an eco-friendly office.
You may not be able to do all of the above, or at least not all at once. Sometimes you just have to print, or you need your team to come in and be on-site. That’s understandable – you can’t let your desire to be environmentally-conscious compromise your business.
But it’s unusual for a business to have truly tapped every chance available to be more energy efficient. There’s almost always new products and updated technologies that encourage continuous reduction of our carbon footprint.
Start small, get buy-in from everyone, and steadily push yourselves to keep getting greener day by day. And buy a plant – it not only freshens the office, it’s a good but simple reminder that we’re responsible for the planet.