With the stress of overflowing inboxes, endless paper trails and tight deadlines, sustainability in the office can often take a backseat. This can include anything from paper towels in the bathroom to plastic cutlery in the kitchen - so, to help make your working life that little bit more sustainable, we have collected our five top tips for greening the office!
An important step towards a greener office can be a super simple one: including a note in the footer of your email that says “Please consider the environment before you print this email.” Voila! Then for those pesky items that do need to be printed, encourage your superiors to purchase recycled paper, or suggest digitising your documents. If this is met with resistance, you can always use a smaller font, reducing your paper usage if only by the smallest amount. After all, we're firm believers that ever step counts!
Reduce energy usage
It is a myth that machines only consumer power when they are turned on.
In reality, many computers, printers, scanners and older coffee machines use power when they are turned off! With home office growing in popularity, especially in these days, many companies are providing their employees with laptops - so start unplugging your computer or your charger at the end of the day (or, with a laptop, as soon the battery is full!). Another small step would be to turn off the screen saver option. With these two seemingly small changes, over the months, a lot of electricity can be saved.
Particularly important during the summer too is turning out the lights. Artificial lights account for about 40% of all electricity consumption, which can be reduced radically if more natural light is being used. Open the blinds and turn off any lights in unused meeting rooms, hallways and bathrooms.
Make some swaps in the bathroom and kitchen
It can be quite common that office bathrooms provide paper towels - which is something that can be changed relatively easily. The greenest way of drying your hands is with cold-air hand dryers, which can be acquired and easily installed in any bathroom (as long as a power outlet is available). In addition, a socially and environmentally beneficial soap should be used, and toilet paper can be swapped for an organic or recycled alternative. We would also strongly encourage buying in bulk and thereby reducing plastic waste and saving money.
If your office kitchen is stocked with plastic cups, plates and cutlery, why not start bringing your own?
We would also suggest switching to natural cleaning products that won't be harmful for the environment as they filter through the water system. Switching to natural cleaning products won’t only bring a more spring-like scent, but also eliminate harmful substances and odours from the office.
Introduce plants to the office
Make the office literally greener! Here at Treedom, we are incredibly lucky, as our office is located on the outskirts of Florence, Italy, where we are able to enjoy a huge garden with a vegetable patch and even bees. Having plants in the office is not only a mood-booster, but they also emit healthy negative ions and oxygen into the air. They're good for you and for the planet!
Encourage changes to office policies
Changing policy can be a bit more difficult to implement, but truly has a huge impact.
Ask your company to introduce a sustainability plan - and hold them accountable! To begin with, adapting to a more casual way of dressing for work, with the weather in mind, you can cut down on air conditioning or heating bills. Next, suggest working from home more often. By commuting less and holding meetings online, we can cut down on CO2, and reduce the time we spend in cars, on trains or at the airport.
Overall, a greener office will impact not only the environment, but also the atmosphere in the workspace, and the mood of individual employees. How many of these tips has your office implemented already? Do you have any other suggestions for us?
In case you missed it, we also collected our top tips for a greener kitchen.