With the abundance of information, resources and ideas about green living, reducing our CO2 emissions and carbon footprint, recycling and being environmentally conscious all sound like no big deal, right? But where do you start and how do you take steps towards improving your situation if you can’t completely control your office environment, mode of transportation, or the way others behave?
Acting on your green intentions
To avoid getting completely overwhelmed, you need to understand that you can’t and aren’t expected to save the planet on your own. Nevertheless, changing even a few small habits and taking tiny steps towards being green-er can make a difference on a big scale.
We know now that going green is a mindset shift rather than a zero-sum game. If we all do our part, we can enact global change gradually. And even though some might not believe in global warming, what we need to only worry about is what each one of us does to contribute every day. That’s what really matters in the end.
So, don’t get discouraged and read on for some achievable ideas on reducing your ecological footprint while working.
10 ways to be greener at work
A degree more or less
As soon as it gets slightly warmer, the air conditioning is turned on at most offices, just as the heating goes up a few degrees when it cools down outside. While maintaining an ambient temperature is essential to the quality of any office environment, wearing appropriate clothing, ensuring radiators aren’t covered, openings/closing blinds and doors when needed, and setting thermostats to an energy-efficient setting at the end of the day, are all important steps towards preserving energy.
Let the sun shine down on you
Fluorescent lighting is not only bad for your eyes and concentration but it is also often completely unnecessary. When there is sufficient natural light outside, opening the blinds and letting it through is guaranteed to improve your mood and productivity. So, turn off the superficial lighting to preserve energy and up your vitamin D absorption.
Plastic - craptastic
Does your coffee machine work with plastic single-use cups? Consider recommending the switch to paper cups to your office manager, or better yet – encouraging team members to bring their own cups from work to use for refills. Coffee and tea taste better out of porcelain cups anyways.
Bagging that lunch
When grabbing lunch to go or getting groceries over your lunch hour, you’re always asked if you want that plastic bag, right? Plan ahead by bringing your own reusable fabric bag, or if that slips your mind, opt for paper bags instead. They are much more environment-friendly and easier to recycle than their plastic counterparts.
Offices are notorious for generating tons of waste in the way of ink cartridges, folders, CDs, DVDs, etc. Surely, we can all be a bit more economical by using recycled printing paper, reusing folders, refilling ink cartridges, and sharing files through the cloud instead. Batteries used in keyboards and mice and paper should also be properly disposed for recycling.
When computers and printers are idle but still on, they keep using energy and generating heat. The same applies to monitors, which should be set to turn off after a few minutes of inactivity (or at least, a screensaver should be enabled). Switch off all machines, printers and copiers before heading home for the evening, and don’t forget to turn off the lights while you’re at it.
In today’s connected world, we can save movie and train tickets, boarding cards and other documents on our smartphones. Printing should be done only when absolutely necessary, and vendors still requiring paper – educated about the benefits of printing less and adopting more digitally-friendly methods of transacting. When printing, reusing old printouts and printing double-sided, will help you save a few trips to the office supplies store.
Sharing is caring
Carpooling might not always be the most convenient option timewise but if planned carefully, it’s something you can fit into your schedule a few times a week, if not every day. The upside? You don’t have to spend hours stuck in traffic alone, reducing stress and anxiety on your way to the office. Some cities, like Seattle (Washington), have carpooling lanes, which allow you to skip traffic altogether, as long as you’ve got at least one passenger in your vehicle.
Work from home
Although this is still a controversial topic with some employers, allowing employees to work from home at least once or twice per week can have a positive impact not only on the environment and on office costs but also on staff’s well-being. Employees who work from home suffer from fewer stress-related illnesses, take fewer sick days, and are generally happier.
And for organizations which have gone completely remote already, the potential savings are even more significant, as they forego the need for office space, thus eliminating energy bills, office supply and equipment expenses, and the need for company cars.
Get smarter bulbs
Bulbs, among other things, are also getting smarter. You can set them to turn off and on when needed, control them remotely, and save energy due to their lower consumption.
What are some of the ways you have invented to save energy and resources at work?
Copywriter: Ina Danova