The environment has become a major talking point everywhere from the water cooler to presidential campaigns, and for good reason. We are living in a world where we have already begun to see the effects of climate change. While it has become abundantly clear that every nation must begin taking steps to mitigate climate disaster on a global scale, we can all begin making small changes every day to reduce our carbon footprint.
One of the easiest places to begin making changes is in the office. There are steps that can be taken to help the office go green at every level, from the highest paid C.E.O. to the part-time, seasonal employees. The entire team can even work together to put changes in place that can improve your company’s environmental impact, and those changes can even help save money around the office.
As an individual employee, you should take a look at your typical work day and see where you can reduce, reuse, and recycle on a personal level. Even if your boss thinks environmentalism is ridiculous and unnecessary, you can make small changes that help reduce your impact on the environment.
Consider your individual workspace. If you work in an office or a cubicle, take a look around and see where you might be wasting energy or other resources.
Do you leave your desk lamp on even when you’re not in the office? Make a note so you remember to turn it off when you leave work for the day. In fact, make sure that everything is turned off when you leave, including computers, desk fans, and other appliances. You might even want to go a step further and unplug everything that isn’t being used overnight to prevent vampire appliances from using energy in standby or sleep mode. This will save energy and reduce fossil fuel use while cutting back on the company’s energy bill at the same time.
Do you waste paper? Check your work from the last few weeks and see if there are ways to reduce your paper use. You can take small steps, like making sure everything you print is double sided instead of single sided. You can take medium steps, like using discarded or misprinted papers as scratch paper instead of buying notepads. If your boss approves of it you can even take large steps, like updating your systems and procedures so all of your work is paperless.
Do you have a desk drawer with 7,000 plastic pens inside of it, yet when the time comes you can never find a pen that works? Do you have to keep ordering boxes of paper clips, rubber bands, and other office supplies because you can never find the ones you bought a few weeks ago? Taking 15 minutes to organize your workspace can not only help you reduce the amount of office supplies you use in a given year, it can also save you money on all of those redundant purchases. You can even reuse those empty boxes from your file folders and other office supplies to organize your desk, eliminating the need to buy new, wasteful stuff to get yourself organized.
Groups Of Employees
If you’ve got an entire group of people in the office who want to work to see environmental improvements around the office, think about coming together to make small changes more effective.
Consider the possibility of sharing resources. If multiple departments can come together and order their supplies all at once they can reduce the number of trips a delivery person or an intern need to take to and from the office supply store, reducing the use of fossil fuels. This will also save on delivery fees and reduce workloads, allowing you to fill your time with something more productive.
Also think about reusing supplies whenever possible. For example, if your department is going paperless and you now have 500 used file folders you’ve cleared out of your cabinet, ask around and see if another department needs them before you toss them in the recycling bin. In fact, this can go beyond the realm of office supplies and turn into a handy way to bring everyone together and save a little money at the same time.
For example, if you have a 1-year-old and someone in the office just had a baby, see if they are interested in hand me down clothes, toys, monitors, and other baby essentials. If you just had a baby, ask around and see if anyone is looking to clear out some space in their kid’s closet. Maybe those dog treats your puppy refuses to eat are the only brand your coworker’s dog likes. Perhaps your coworker is taking up golf at the same time you’ve decided to get rid of your old clubs. Talk to one another and find out how you can help each other keep your wallets full and your trash cans empty.
Employers and Decision Makers
Employers, managers, and other decision makers have the biggest ability to make positive environmental changes in the office. By making environmentalism a priority in the office, employers can not only help save the planet but they can also boost morale and save a few bucks at the same time.
Decision makers within the company can choose to have repairs done to the office building itself to make it LEED Certified. This means that the building is designed to save energy, water, and resources. This is a complex change, but if you are facing necessary repairs anyway this is an excellent way to reduce your office’s environmental impact.
Other, smaller changes can be made for a big impact on the environment as well. Doing a bit of research can help you choose toilet paper that doesn’t contribute to deforestsation, lead you to choose the most energy efficient appliances for the office, and help guide you in your search for office furniture made from recycled materials. Checking the settings on automatic sinks and toilets can help reduce unnecessary water use while installing filtered water fountains designed to comfortably fit cups and bottles can help reduce single use plastics in the office while reducing your overall water bill.
Improving efficiency in the office doesn’t have to be an insurmountable obstacle. Everybody can work together to make changes that will not only help the planet, they’ll also help your bottom line.