21 Easy And Actionable Ways For You And Your Co-Workers To Make Your Office Eco-Friendly...
Picture your average office setting… It relies on electricity, and usually a lot of it. Paper is constantly being used in printers and notebooks. Many staff members are commuting by car, releasing harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Plenty of energy drinks, caffeinated sodas, and coffee cups are consumed and then discarded. When you think about it, it’s not the most environmentally friendly setting, is it? Maybe not, but it certainly can be! The good news is that there are plenty of ways to reduce your carbon footprint in the office. By making a few changes, you can really make a difference. Keep reading to learn 21 ways to make your office more eco-friendly.
1. Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
Instead of buying bottled water to hydrate throughout the day, bring a reusable bottle to refill. Plastic bottles sit in landfills for hundreds of years, slowly breaking down into smaller bits of plastic, but never truly decomposing. Even worse, many end up in the ocean. Reusable water bottles are an inexpensive way to cut down on plastic use while still taking care of your health.
2. Get Lavit and Eliminate Bottled Drinks
Take it a step further and get a Lavit drink system for your office. Providing not only filtered water but also many healthy and energizing drink options, Lavit eliminates the need for plastic soda bottles and energy drink cans. Lavit’s drink system uses what are called EcoCaps - tiny aluminum capsules. Each EcoCap creates a single serving of tea, juice, coffee, and more. EcoCaps are recyclable and they use far less aluminum than a beverage can! Lavit cuts down on waste - and sugar, too, so it keeps your office greener and feeling better.
3. Use Recycled Paper
Half of the waste produced by your average business is the paper that they go through. Not only does paper use create waste; it also causes deforestation. The amount of annual paper waste created in the United States equates to one billion trees! Buy recycled paper for your printers to break this cycle.
4. Cut Down on Carbon-Heavy Commuting
The daily commute is a huge contributor to an office’s carbon footprint. By carpooling, taking public transportation, bicycling, or walking to work, you can significantly cut down on those carbon emissions. Check out this emissions calculator at Map My Emissions to see exactly how much CO2 your commute releases into the atmosphere. You can also check emissions from public transportation routes.
5. Reuse Office Supplies
Use paperclips over staples whenever possible, and save them for further use when you’re done. Re-label your binders and folders instead of tossing them and getting new ones. Save rubber bands from office supply shipments rather than buying a whole box. Many office supplies can be used over and over to keep things out of the trash.
6. Take Notes on a Tablet or Computer
Instead of using a notebook, bring a tablet or laptop as a way to take notes when you’re away from your desk. It’s more efficient and it doesn’t waste paper. Use Notepad or Word on your computer to write things down throughout the day rather than reaching for sticky notes. Sticky notes are some of the biggest wastes of paper in the office! Think about how many notes get crumpled up and tossed daily. Typing up what you need to remember overwriting it down can save a lot of trees.
7. Print Double Sided
Most printers have the option to print double-sided. Check in your printer settings to see if you can cut down on half of your paper use. If your printer doesn’t have the option, set aside old one-sided paper documents to use for scrap paper. Recycle it when you’re done.
It’s a low effort solution, but sometimes recycling slips through the cracks. Make sure that recycling bins are clearly marked! Hang a sign above the recycle bins showing what can be recycled and what needs to go in the trash. This will lower the amount of garbage that ends up in the recycling stream. Check the regulations in your specific area to see what can be recycled and what can’t. Different locations have varying facilities and what they can accept also varies. A little research on your location will help your office to recycle efficiently.
9. Compost Food Scraps
In addition to recycling, setting up a compost bin in your office can be beneficial to the environment. Some areas have composting facilities. If yours doesn’t, see if you can find another way to re-purpose food scraps. Donate the compost to local gardens or farms, or better yet, organize an office-run community garden.
10. Use Green Cleaning Products
Many cleaning products have harsh chemicals that are dangerous to the environment, as well as human health. Make the switch to all-natural cleaning products to avoid toxins. Green products are just as effective without the harsh chemicals.
11. Install LED Lighting
Switch out regular light-bulbs for LED lighting to cut down on energy use by 75% or more. Because LED bulbs don’t waste energy as heat, they last longer and work more efficiently than incandescent light-bulbs. Less energy usage means less CO2 emissions. It’s a great way to reduce your building’s carbon footprint.
12. Organize a Green Team
Creating an environmentally-focused task force can be all the difference when it comes to making eco-friendly choices. Gather a group of interested individuals on a weekly, semi-weekly or even monthly basis to discuss environmental challenges and brainstorm eco-friendly ideas. Just a few motivated people can, in turn, motivate the entire office.
13. Incentivize Sustainability
Encourage your office to go green by providing incentives. This would be a great project for a Green Team to spearhead! Set up competitions to see who can be the most environmentally friendly and offer prizes for the top contestants – or for a little team-building exercise, set an office-wide goal. Providing a congratulatory breakfast in the morning would be one great way to have a group celebration once the goal is met.
14. Stop Using Paper Towels
Paper towels are major contributors to deforestation and pollution. To make it worse, used paper towels can’t be recycled. Thankfully, there are more sustainable options. Replace them in the kitchen with reusable dishcloths and install hand-driers in bathrooms.
15. Don’t Use Disposable Silverware
Ditch the plastic utensils from your office kitchen. Most plastic utensils can’t be recycled, so they end up in the landfill. With an entire office using and disposing of forks, knives, and spoons every day, the impact is significant. Alternatively, opt for silverware made from compostable and/or recycled materials.
16. Bring in Natural Light
Whenever possible, opt for opening the blinds over flipping a light switch. Natural light reduces energy usage and provides vitamin D when you’re stuck inside during your workday. Bringing sunlight into the office has been proven to provide a whole range of health benefits, as well as being a sustainable lighting option.
17. Turn off the Power When You Leave
Before you walk out of the office in the evening, turn off all of the lights. Shut your computers down and turn off the monitors. Unplug any devices that don’t need to be plugged in. Avoid “phantom energy” – some things will still use electricity as long as they’re plugged in, even if they’re powered off.
18. Donate E-Waste
Your old computers, printers, and other e-waste can be donated to organizations that will either re-purpose or recycle them. Many major cities will have e-waste recycling facilities. Try to keep it as local as possible to reduce carbon emissions. Instead of hitting the landfill, these organizations sort old electronics into a few different categories. Those that are still usable are donated to families in need or schools and libraries. Everything else is responsibly recycled.
19. Don’t Print What You Don’t Need to Print
Think about it… do you really need a hard copy of that email? Most of the time, the answer will be no. Encourage others not to print your emails by putting a reminder to stay green and go paperless in your email signature.
20. Get an Energy Efficient Refrigerator
The fridge in your office’s kitchen is probably using a lot of energy. If it hasn’t been replaced in a while, it could be one of the biggest wastes of energy in your space. Refrigerators made prior to 2001 use significantly more energy than newer models. If they were made prior to 1993, it gets even worse. A new fridge uses just a fraction of the energy. Make sure to recycle your old fridge when you upgrade!
21. Switch to Renewable Energy
Renewable energy, such as solar power, is becoming increasingly common. Prices of solar have dropped and installation is more accessible. Studies are showing that it will continue to get cheaper, too. Now is the time to make the switch and run your office sustainably.
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