15 Smart Ways To Go Green In The Office

There’s so many great ways to promote green, eco-friendly operations throughout the workplace. The data is in: commercial buildings consume 35% of all electricity in the U.S. With an eye-opening statistic like that, it’s no wonder that so many people want to make their office a little more sustainable. Of course, there’s several key strategies for running a sustainable business.

Luckily, going green in the office is easier than people think. Here’s a list of ways you can make your office more eco-friendly, direct from the experts over at Clocktower Commons.

Lights Off, Shades Open

If your office has a lot of natural light, why not take advantage of it? Instead of closing the blinds and turning on the fluorescent lights overhead, try using natural sunlight to light the office space as often as possible. Not only will this save on energy bills, but it’s also much better for mental health.

Switch To LED Bulbs

Incandescent, halogen, CFL, and fluorescent bulbs are all varying degrees of wasteful. There’s electricity costs, sketchy supply lines that aren’t guaranteed to be ethically sourced, and the bulbs’ own life expectancy to consider. It’s a hassle to have to figure out what lighting is right for your office space, and there’s a lot of bad information out there. What you might not have considered, however, is that LED bulbs are now at the point where they can be considered competitors to the rest of the market. In fact, these days they’re better business interiors than conventional bulbs in a lot of the ways that matter. Consider switching them out with conventional bulbs and you might be amazed at the difference.

Encourage Everyone To Bring Reusable Bottles

This one might meet a little more resistance than some other ideas because it puts pressure on your employees, but it’s perfectly reasonable on paper. Due to how the system of recycling plastics works, about 80% of all plastic water bottles end up in landfills or as some other kind of recyclable plastic waste. If you can afford it, branded reusable bottles distributed to the employees might be the way to go here. Not only will it make your office more sustainable, but it’ll take pressure off of employees to buy their own. Plus, it’ll make for a neat little bit of brand awareness that they can take wherever they go.

Use Sustainable Cutlery In The Office Kitchen

Paper plates are convenient, but they’re exceedingly wasteful. They take about 5 years on average to decompose in a landfill setting. Even though ceramic dishes might cost about the same when you take washing them over the course of a year into account, they can be reused and don’t need to be thrown away afterward. Between their reusability and avoiding all the plastic utensils that would be going into the trash, you’ll find that the waste reduction far outweighs the initial cost of sustainable cutlery and flatware. Just think of how much less trash your office could be producing.

Unplug At The End Of The Day

Even at home, phantom power can be costing you money. The power lost to even a single laptop left plugged in when not in use or charging can add up quickly over a year. Now extrapolate that to an entire office. A whole space full of lamps, computers, monitors, and various electronic devices that are all passively drawing power during off-hours when no one’s there. It’s a waste of money–and energy–to have all that phantom power draw happening after everyone’s clocked out. Unplug and stay diligent about leaving things plugged in.

Buy In Bulk

You know those little individual sugar packets by the coffee maker? In the long run, those are as bad for your wallet as they are for the environment. There are pros and cons to buying frequently used things in bulk, but the important factors to remember in an office setting are waste reduction and cost effectiveness. Not only are you not throwing away sugar packets, you’re also saving money. A reduction in packaging and shipping costs for the manufacturer means a reduction in cost for you the consumer. Of course, this will mean more upfront cost in the short term, especially since you’ll have to buy reusable containers to hold everything. But it also means that you’ll be throwing away a lot less packaging material.

Figure Out Food Storage Solutions

One of the best ways to keep an office space’s food waste from getting overwhelming is to keep a stack of reusable, sealable containers handy. If there’s leftovers, it’s always better for them to get put away than to be thrown out and left uneaten. Consider having a pad of sticky notes and a permanent marker by the fridge so people can label their food more easily. You don’t want things to fall prey to “back of the fridge” syndrome. Remember, it’s not enough to just get a box of sealable plastic bags. Whatever food storage solution you pick has to be washable and reusable to be truly effective at tackling office waste in a green fashion.

Decorate With Plants

One of the more surprising ways to go green in the office is to literally go green and buy yourself some office plants. Noise reduction, improved air quality, reduced anxiety, and better humidity levels are just some of the benefits of having plants around an office space. You don’t need much of a green thumb for this one. Pothos and spider plants are happy to be a little bit neglected, and palms and cacti are easy to maintain over time.

Host A Donation Drive

Want to do something that’s good for both the environment and your company’s image? Then hosting a donation drive might be the thing to do. Employees can bring clothing and other items they’re not using to trade for items brought by others they may find more useful. It can be an activity for just your employees or a public affair, but either way you’re still contributing to waste reduction.

Buy Refurbished Electronics

To many tech aficionados, “refurbished” is practically a dirty word. But there’s a lot of reasons why refurbished electronics could be better for your business than brand new ones. Not only are they cost effective, but they actually have to be repaired to a certain standard to even be sold. You’ll never be paying for something that arrives broken – the refurbisher’s reputation is at stake with everything they ship out. Just make sure you find a reputable seller for it if you go this particular route. There are a lot of people who are buying computer parts in bulk just to demolish them with cryptocurrency mining. You don’t want that crowd’s cast-offs.

Set Up A Bike Rack

According to the University of Oxford, switching from a car to a bike for the commute to work could reduce the average person’s transportation emissions by 67%. But here in the US, that’s not always the most viable option. Because of how little infrastructure exists to support riding a bike to work in a lot of places, most people just don’t bother. Making sure your business supports people who want to bike to work may be the first step in helping your office go green. A lot of people, including millennials, really do want to use their cars less; it saves them money and it feels more like they’re doing their part for the environment. But if the infrastructure isn’t there, then it doesn’t matter what they want to do. Setting up a bike rack is a good way to help employees help themselves.

Create A Green Task Force

Speaking of employees, why not ask if any of them feel like contributing ideas or pitching in to make the office a greener place? Figure out who’s most passionate about greening the workplace, get a group chat going, and see what everyone has to say. This will put a little more pressure on your employees at first. But some will be downright eager to jump in and do their part. Not only will this help keep your workplace eco-friendly, it’ll help with employee retention and give workers a sense of agency over their office space. This kind of democracy in the workplace isn’t just a union buzzword – it’s something that will draw people to your business.

Get An All-In-One Printer

Of course, the more devices you’re running, the more power you’ll use. If you absolutely need to print things, an all-in-one printer will save you money (especially when coupled with the advice above about unplugging electronics when they’re not in use). While we’re on the subject of printers, buying remanufactured printer cartridges can be another facet to your eco-friendly strategy if you can find the right models for your printers. Instead of just throwing out old cartridges, some companies will clean them out and refill them to be used again. This is often cheaper than buying brand new cartridges, too.

Go Paperless

With all the fuss about junk mail nowadays, why add to it? Between the paper waste and the emissions associated with transporting that paper waste, you’re not doing the world any favors by sticking to paper for everything. If it can be an email or a text, put it in an email or text. If you can get away with not using proprietary DRM-locked printer cartridges, do it. This is just one of those switches that’ll be better for everyone involved. Additionally, if you’re looking to trial whether or not you can make your office entirely remote, this can be a great place to start and assess if your office technology is prepared for a switch.

Go Remote

This brings us to our next and most significant suggestion: remote work. If you can get away with switching to a fully remote office, it’s one of the best solutions of all in terms how to make an office more green. A fully green office is one that no one has to drive to, where no lights have to be turned on, and no appliances need to be left running. There are downsides, obviously. You’re beholden to whatever internet connection your employees happen to have, you need to have competent web infrastructure set up, and you’ll be paying for web hosting. But even if we weren’t living in interesting times, this would still be a good option to consider for the environmental benefits alone. Not only will you save on your energy bill and job costings, your employees save on gas, but you’ll be doing a world of good for the planet. It may take some adjustment to the new way of doing things, but your employees will likely be happier and stick with your company longer if you provide a remote work option.

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