How to make your office greener with 38 ideas
My Instagram poll has spoken! You all seemed to be super interested in an article about making the workplace a little more sustainable. I’m not talking about completely changing company policy (though if you are in high management and reading this, kudos to you!) but rather about everyday changes that can make a difference if we all embrace them. It makes sense considering we spend most of our time there. To make it easier, how about starting a sustainability team with your favourite co-workers?
I’m not too sure about how I should write this post because besides the business they’re in, every office is different. Some companies have lots of employees, others only a few. Some own entire buildings, others rent offices. Some are in the middle of the city while others are in office parks outside of town. What works for one place won’t necessarily work for the other. So, I figured maybe the best way to do this is simply to make a list and everyone can use the ideas they like. Also, I would love if this post was somehow collaborative so please leave your ideas in the comments! Full disclosure: some of these tips come from my own coworkers and the pictures are from where I work.
PREMISES & COMMODITIES
1. Use eco-friendly office supplies like refillable or recycled pens and stapleless staplers.
2. Place recycling bins in various spots instead of having individual bins. Try to have a separate one for organic waste too.
3. If/when you change your office furniture, try to order it from eco-friendly brands or even second hand if you have the possibility to do so.
4. Have plants. Inside AND outside. Why not even a herb garden for everyone to use?
5. Switch to LED or fluorescent lightbulbs.
6. Turn off lights and electronics at night.
7. Ditch screensavers. Let your screen go to sleep while you’re not using it.
8. Donate your old electronics to charity or take them to a recycling center.
9. Collect old light bulbs and batteries.
10. Use green cleaning products.
11. Use a mini white board at your desk to save on sticky notes.
12. Careful with the thermostat. You can’t always control the settings, especially if your share a building with other companies, but if you can, try not to overheat in winter or turn the place into a freezer during the summer.
13. Ethernet over wifi!… when you can.
14. Use public transportation if possible. Check with your company if they can cover that expense (often times they get tax reductions for it)
15. Bike to work and request a bicycle parking.
16. Set up a carpooling page/group.
17. Work from home one day a week if possible.
18. Go digital as much as you can.
19. Use recycled paper
20. Avoid single-sided printing when possible.
21. Use smaller fonts.
22. Reuse single side prints as drafts if they’re not confidential.
23. Buy re-manufactured ink and toner cartridges.
FOOD & DRINKS
24. What’s an office without coffee? If you use a pod coffee machine, switch for a bean to cup machine or a good old drip coffee maker (with recycled filters). Choose an organic & fair trade coffee brand.
25. Tea lovers, I’m not forgetting you. Loose tea at work doesn’t work too well so choose compostable tea bags like the ones from Pukka or Clippers.
26. Ditch single use cups and stirrers. Encourage people to bring their own mugs or buy some for the entire office. Don’t forget to buy spoons and even better: a dishwasher.
27. Forget sugar packets and coffee creamer singles. Get sugar cubes or sugar in a dispenser and get creamer in a bottle (or even better: vegan, creamer!)
28. Give everyone a cool reusable water bottle and replace your bottled water dispenser with a filtered water dispenser.
29. Encourage people to bring their own lunchbox by offering them a fridge and a microwave. Why not even a nice break room?
30. Offer fresh fruit as a snack. You can even have them delivered directly to you and it helps keep people away from the vending machine. You can also try to order organic & fair trade snacks to have in the machine.
31. Hold events like clothes swapping after-works. This can be super interesting to sell your own clothes but also kids stuff.
32. Set up a book swapping shelf.
33. Create a page/group for people to post things they are selling and donating.
34. Have a piggy-bank to collect loose change and donate it to an organization at the end of the year.
35. Join events like nature clean-ups or tree planting for your teambuildings.
36. Be mindful when you’re having secret Santa.
37. Place group orders when you shop online (from sustainable brands obviously) and have it delivered to the office if you’re allowed.
38. Rethink your rewards and company gifts to make them useful and eco-friendly.