Your guide to making your workplace greener
If you’d like your company to be more environmentally friendly, you’re not alone. One survey found almost two-thirds of people were more likely to want to work for a company with strong sustainability policies, but most respondents said workplaces were not doing enough to tackle climate change.
Some employees are taking things into their own hands by acting as sustainability champions or forming “green teams” to push for a more eco-friendly workspace. Here are some suggestions from the experts about changes you can make, whether you work from the office or remotely.
About 26% of waste that goes into landfill is paper and cardboard, so if you can avoid adding to that, it’s a huge win for the environment. You’ll also be reducing the impact of cutting down trees, of course.
You may not be able to cut out paper use altogether, but you can request paperless statements from banks and suppliers, use electronic signing, deploy cloud services like Google Docs and Dropbox and track printer use with a monthly report emailed out to keep people accountable, suggests CIO magazine.
Build energy-saving habits
Workplaces are responsible for about 18% of the UK’s carbon emissions, so cutting energy use can have a big impact. The Energy Saving Trust suggests small and medium businesses could cut their usage by 18% to 25% – which means there are big savings to be had on bills as well.
The trust says to start with examining your heating, ensuring you have a smart thermostat and setting it to a conservative 19C (or 24C for air conditioning). Make sure you have energy efficient bulbs and use motion sensors to turn off lights in empty rooms. And switching to laptops from desktop computers can also be more energy efficient.
Scrap the single-use plastic
We use over 35 million plastic bottles every day in the UK, according to Greenpeace. So keeping hydrated with a reusable bottle at your desk is one way to a greener workplace. The campaign group also recommends bringing a reusable cup for tea or coffee.
Workplaces can also have reusable cutlery in the canteen and request that suppliers cut down on plastic packaging, the Less Plastic campaign suggests.
Try meat-free days for lunch
The office space firm WeWork introduced a policy of restricting expense claims to meals with no meat. That could be controversial – although the company held a staff vote to approve the decision. But with meat production responsible for about a fifth of carbon emissions, some scientists say it’s important that people to reconsider their diet.
A less-confrontational approach might be to have a meat-free day in the canteen. Or if you work from home, you can gradually choose to increase the number of plant-based meals you make.
Get some indoor plants
OK, a few pot plants aren’t going to do anything to stop climate change. But there are still some big benefits to improving the local environment inside your office.
Plants in your office or your home working space can cut air pollution by 20%, according to research by the University of Birmingham. A few ferns or peace lilies can help to suck out the NO2 from urban pollution as well as reduce indoor CO2 levels – which may help concentration and productivity.