Today’s business owners have more to keep track of than ever. Sustainability, while a recent development, is a real factor in attracting and keeping talent and upholding your company’s corporate social responsibility.
Your office might have a jump on the sustainability game, or it might have a lot of opportunities to improve. There are many ways you can help move the needle towards a greener working environment.
So where do you start?
1. Take Advantage of Telecommuting
One of the most significant environmental antagonists created by employees is carbon emissions. You and many others generate by millions of them by driving to work every day. Why not do away with the drive altogether?
Modern technology allows people to work from home. Imagine the number of emissions your company could reduce if you required everyone to work from home one day a week. As a bonus, workers tend to agree with the idea and be more productive when they receive the opportunity.
2. Switch to Sustainable Cutlery
You probably don’t think of your office as a place where you do lots of eating, but it is. Lunchrooms and people’s desks are full of flatware, and in many instances, it’s plastic.
Replace your plasticware with washable and reusable dishes and cups. It’s a valid reason to get up from your desk and take a break, and it’s much more sustainable.
3. Start Recycling
You can recycle quite a lot of your office supplies if you change your waste management strategies. The paper products you throw away — and even hardware like computers — can be recycled and sent to repurposing centers where their environmental impact will significantly decrease.
Speak to your IT department about how they recycle, and make it easy for your employees to recycle everyday goods by placing bins liberally throughout the workplace.
4. Add Some Greenery
Plants can add some much-needed oxygen to your workplace, and they also do a great job of making things feel less drab. If you choose hearty vegetation like snake plants or ferns, they’ll last a long time and survive without much care.
You can even water them yourself and forego the cost of sticking someone with “plant person” duty.
5. Turn Off Equipment
It sounds like a no-brainer, but many offices leave equipment running all the time. Have you ever paid a visit to your workplace on the weekend? Did you notice the TV in the breakroom was running, along with the computers at people’s workstations? That’s not sustainable.
Turn your equipment off after every workday and remind others to do the same at their stations. Discuss with your operations team about implementing policies to switch off the devices you don’t need to use over the weekend.
6. Make Your Bathroom Sustainable
Think about how many paper towels people throw out in workplaces around the world — plus all the water involved in flushing toilets and urinals. Your company’s bathroom is one of the least sustainable parts of the entire operation.
However, you can fix that by implementing ingenious fixes. Replace paper towel dispensers with sustainable hand-drying equipment that uses air. Use sensors to have toilets and urinals only flush when they need to. And maintain bathrooms whenever the plumber detects leaks or broken equipment so you can avoid the waste and extra expenses.
7. Go Paperless
You might be surprised how easy this is. When was the last time you gave a presentation with handouts? Use those projectors and screens instead — everyone’s doing it!
If your business is a storefront, ask people if they want a printed receipt or offer to email it to them. You can easily convert most paperwork to digital formats. Your documents and transactions are also easier to track that way.
8. Move to the Cloud
The energy cost of your local server room might blow you away. Add the price of cooling, and you’ve located a sustainability catastrophe. You can remedy this by removing all that equipment and using someone else’s.
Choose a reputable cloud solution and wash your hands of those unsustainable servers.
9. Install Solar Panels
In many cities and states, businesses can receive government credit for installing solar panels. That also applies to other forms of renewable energy, such as wind turbines and geothermal heat pumps. Sunlight is one of the more stable renewable power sources, and it will lower your electricity bills exponentially.
Plus, if you don’t have the roof space for solar panels, you can always choose ground-mounted versions. What are you waiting for? Bring the sunlight in!
Turn Your Office Green for Sustainability
These are some of the easier ideas, but many companies haven’t even come this far. If you believe your business can improve its sustainability, speak up. Go to your manager and have a conversation about eco-friendly strategies.
You might just start a movement!
Dylan Bartlett, aka, “The Regular Guide,” writes about a broad variety of topics on his blog. Check out Just a Regular Guide for more, or follow him on Twitter @theregularguidefor frequent updates!