5 tips for a greener office
With young people worldwide ditching their classrooms and taking to the streets to persuade politicians and corporations to take their environmental impact more seriously, you might be wondering what changes you can make in your office that would make even a small difference.
As a professional services company our impact is lower than other industries but there is always room for improvement. I decided to take a look at a few of the practices we employ here at the tree which you can use to maximise the green credentials in your office.
One of the simplest and quickest ways to cut your office’s carbon footprint is to switch to a green energy supplier. There are a number of suppliers out there that are committed to providing renewable energy to businesses of various sizes. Often these can be cheaper than other suppliers so there is even more incentive to get a quote.
If you have the means - either you own your business or have a long-term lease - you could consider renewable energy sources such as solar panels or biomass. Although these initial installations can be costly you may be eligible for the Non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive to recoup some of the cost.
On that note, turn off any equipment such as computers, printers and photocopiers that you don’t need at the end of the day to save electricity. It’s always better to use less after all.
A lot of offices use coffee machines with single-use pods or paper filters and whilst some suppliers arrange for the pods to be collected and recycled, we know that we might have a few careless colleagues - or indeed suppliers - that just throw these straight in a landfill.
Make sure your coffee machine doesn’t use single-use filters or pods. Consider switching to a reusable stainless-steel filter (or a machine that doesn’t need one) or keep your eye out for stainless-steel pods. If you really can’t let go of the convenience of the pods look for biodegradable versions. Be careful though, as often these are only partly biodegradable.
Not big coffee drinkers? Here are some top tea tips: use brands with plastic-free tea bags and little excess packaging, look out for a Rainforest Alliance certification or check if the brand is a member of the Ethical Tea Partnership. This way you can be sure your Earl Grey is in fact green!
A lot of what we use in an office tends to be single-use or produced in a harmful way.
A few quick swaps you could make that will reduce waste:
- At this point most offices are largely paperless; it isn’t common to see offices full of filing cabinets anymore but it’s likely you could still reduce the amount you print – even changing the default settings on your printer to double-sided can have a big difference. Take any materials you need for a meeting on a USB or laptop.
- Change your plastic soap dispenser to a refillable one, or even better – a bar!
- Swap out paper towels for hand towels and kitchen roll for tea towels and cloths
- There are several sustainable loo roll companies out there either with minimal packaging or made without trees
- Use recycled paper, refillable ink cartridges and non-toxic highlighters
Make sure you use up your current supplies before making any switches. It's better not to waste anything than it is to ditch what you currently have in favour greener alternatives.
Travelling to and from work by public transport is a great way to cut your carbon footprint. If you are unable to take public transport, try and link up with colleagues who you can car share with.
Consider cycling to work if you can. Lots of cities now have pay as you go bikes. Alternatively badger your employer to join the cycle to work scheme!
It isn’t just getting to and from work that can be greener. If you and your colleagues are guilty of jumping into taxis to get to and from meetings, consider switching to public transport or hopping on a bike – sustainable and great exercise.
The fashion industry can have huge impact on the environment, so our team cleared out their wardrobes (very therapeutic), brought in their unwanted items and hosted a company wide clothes swap. As the adage goes - one person’s trash is another’s treasure, and everyone left with an updated wardrobe - free and green! Anything left over was donated to a local charity, so nothing went to waste.
We live in a world that's arguably in a fair bit of trouble...It may not always seem like it but even tiny changes at an individual level can have a massive impact in aggregate. Not only that, but from a communications point of view incorporating these kinds of changes into your lifestyle reflects an attitudinal shift which is incredibly important if we hope to thrive as a species on this fragile planet, and spread the positive messages and sentiment required for us to really change our course for the better.
If you have any tips or tricks you use in your office that aren't on this list I'd love to hear them, get in touch!
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