12 ways to make your office more eco-friendly

A change is coming. Every day more and more people are making the move towards living a greener life, they’re buying local, eating less meat and going organic.

There’s no denying that collectively we have to rethink how we power the world. As a business owner you can make a huge difference with some minor changes in how you do things around the office. Here are the 12 best ways for you to work towards a eco-friendly office.

office eco-friendly1. Where does your energy come from?

The first thing that you can do is to think about how your electricity is generated. There are plenty of providers promising to supply electricity from only renewable resources and they often offer extremely competitive rates to boot. Renewable energy currently accounts for 26% of the global market and it’s only going to keep growing so now is your chance to get on board early.

2. Unplug your stuff

Speaking of power, your office is only used for nine hours a day. That leaves a grand total of 15 hours that you’re powering appliances that aren’t even needed, that adds up to a staggering 123 hours per week. There’s obviously going to be certain things that absolutely need constant power but something as simple as staff unplugging their computers in the evenings will have a massive impact on your energy usage and your electricity bill.

3. Educate the masses

Technically this has to start with educating yourself but the key here is that it’s about spreading information. Your employees can’t start to make eco-friendly decisions if they don’t know what they should be doing. Make posters (from recycled paper) and send out memos with any necessary information. Make it as clear and as easy as possible for everyone to make the right decisions and you’ll be well on your way.

4. Ban plastic, go compostable

Everything from the cups and custom coasters at your water cooler to the cutlery and salad containers in your canteen can be replaced with compostable versions or you can choose to do away with them entirely.  You can even hook your water cooler up to the mains supply and add a filter. Something as simple as keeping reusable bottles at your desk will eliminate the need for plastic cups.

5. Go paperless

This one is as much about getting with the times as it is about going green. Do you really need to be sending and receiving physical copies of all your bills? Go digital, Peter in the mailroom might have nothing to do but the earth will thank you for it. Think about your bathrooms too, forget about paper towels or electric hand dryers in favour of reusable cotton cloths.

6. Turn down the A/C

It seems like the seasons are getting more and more extreme (I wonder why that is). Just because it’s winter doesn’t give you an excuse to crank the heating all the way up to ‘Sahara’. The same applies during the summer, you shouldn’t be able to see your breath in July.

7. Get your employees on board

You don’t want to be a small drop in a great big ocean, you need your green movement to gather momentum and for that you need people. You have a whole workforce at your disposal and the majority of them are likely to be eco-conscious to begin with. Don’t overdo it though, start off by suggesting some simple changes that they can make and let the idea grow from there.

8. Think about where your waste goes

You’re a busy office, you receive packages, print documents and generally generate a lot of rubbish. It’s time to think about where that waste goes, do you have bins for compost, recycling and general waste and, if you do, are you sure that your collection company is disposing of it the way that they should be?

9. Change your uniforms

If your employees wear a uniform or branded T-shirts of any sort, think about going organic with the uniforms the next time you’re due to order a new batch. Non-organic cotton is responsible for 16% of the world’s insecticides and releases 220 million tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.

10. Rethink your travel arrangements

Try to get people thinking about how they get to and from the office. If they have to drive, maybe they can pick people up along the way, if they take the bus or train maybe they could cycle instead. Rush hour is a big culprit when it comes to pollution and having a workforce that uses more eco-friendly travel options to the office would be a big leap in the right direction. You could even look into registering your company for a cycle to work scheme, your employees will save money and so will you.

11. Easy on the brightness

Unless your computer has a night job as a lighthouse the odds are you don’t need to have the brightness up that high. Not only is it bad for your eyes but it uses a huge amount of energy too. Turning the brightness down means that your computer will be drawing less energy and saving electricity in the long run. Same goes for your phone too!

12. Keep it natural

Are those halogen bulbs absolutely necessary? If you’re able to, turning the lights off in favour of letting in as much natural light as possible can be a huge energy saver. If you don’t get that much light from the windows try swapping all your office bulbs for eco-friendly ones, they’re more efficient and cheaper to run.

There are of course plenty of other things you can do to take steps towards a super eco-friendly office: from hosting recycling competitions between departments to changing up your office supplies themselves. These are just some ideas to get you started on your eco trip. Why not host a staff brainstorming session to see what you can come up with collectively? Once you’ve opened a company wide dialogue I’m confident that you’ll be able to work together towards a greener future.