Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility. If you run a busy office with a lot of employees then it can be hard enough keeping everything running smoothly, and adding sustainable habits adds another consideration.
It is definitely worth making all of these changes. Plus, we’ve included a list of ways that you can make the changes easily. Some of the tips on this list require very little effort but can make a big impact on your company’s carbon footprint and sustainability.
Discourage Disposables and Encourage Sustainability
You can’t tell your office employees what to do, but you can discourage behaviours that aren’t sustainable. Even in the break room, don’t give staff the option to use disposable cups in the coffee machine. Most coffee machines will allow you to use mugs. You could even reward employees who bring their own reusable coffee cups!
If you have an office supply manager who is responsible for buying the items that get used daily, try and encourage them to think about the sustainability of what they are buying. You can avoid using plastic cleaning products, for example. Things like disposable straws in the office kitchen are definitely not needed.
Use Sustainable Coffee Pods
Most offices run on coffee. In the UK, we drink 95 million cups of coffee per day. More and more people are using coffee machines to prepare those coffees, and some of these use pods. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as some precautions are taken.
Some coffee machines can take pods that are refillable, so you can use your own ground coffee inside and not have to dispose of the pod. If you can’t do this, make sure that the pods you are using in your office coffee machine are recyclable, and make it easy and obvious how to do this.
Some coffee machines have other modes to make big batches of coffee, rather than single-servings, which can be another way to reduce waste, especially if preparing coffee for more than one person.
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Make Recycling Easy
The bin system in a lot of offices is lacking. Ideally, you should have as many recycling bins as you do non-recycling. The harder it is for office staff to recycle, the less likely they are to do it. For example, if someone has one bin at their workstation they are likely to put everything in that, rather than walk to a recycling bin.
This guide talks more about how you can help staff to recycle more. One key is educating them. If staff don’t know what is recyclable then they will just put everything in the non-recycling bin. If you are using recyclable pods for the coffee machine, make sure this is clear, and keep a recycling bin nearby.
Give Things Away That Encourage Sustainability
A lot of companies make promotional items that they give way to employees or at trade fairs and events. Instead of disposable pens, why not make branded items that can encourage people to take a sustainable approach in their daily lives?
Items you can give away include reusable cups and straws, people will hopefully choose to use these instead of single-use plastics. Company canvas bags are another brilliant idea for an item you can give away to encourage environmental responsibility, plus they are pretty affordable to get made.
Do More For Environmental Charities
Your company might have charity initiatives, such as events or fundraisers. This is a responsible thing to do if you get the opportunity. If money is being raised for charity, consider choosing an environmental charity, to offset any of the negative impacts your office might be making.
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Paper’s environmental impact might surprise you, and offices can waste an awful lot of it unnecessarily. Trying to keep paper use to a minimum can help you to stay more organized while becoming more sustainable, too.
A 2014 study by “PaperKarma” in the US showed that a 10% cut in paper used would have the equivalent impact as taking 280,000 cars off the road for a year. Think about whether your office could use 10% less paper if you really tried. The answer is probably “yes”.
Think About Office Energy
The amount of energy you are using might be the biggest impact you’re having on the environment. Most companies can’t totally cut their energy use, but there are things you can do.
Introduce policies of turning the lights off whenever they aren’t needed, or even switch to sensor lights that only come on when they sense motion. Turn all electronics off overnight, and keep the heating off unless it is needed.
If you want to make a big impact on your energy use, you could even switch the whole office to a green energy plan from your electricity provider. It might cost you more, but the use of renewable energy is worth it.
There are things that all of us can do, from ensuring that coffee machine pods are recycled to switching your energy provider, offices can implement tiny changes that make a huge difference for the future of the planet.