Let me share with you something I’ve learned over the years: Most people want to do the right thing with their businesses. They want their business to be green. They want it to be sustainable. They want it to align with their values. The challenge is that they’re just not sure how to do that. In many cases, they’ve made a few changes and then they get stuck.
The list of tips below is designed to jump-start your sustainability efforts. There are many green initiatives that you can start in the workplace that will make a difference!
Setting Up a Structure
Establish a green team for your company. A green team will give employees an opportunity to contribute to the development and implementation of your sustainability initiatives.
Waste Reduction and Recycling
- Set up a recycling system for your office for paper (in the office), plastic, glass and metal (in the kitchen).
- Set up a reuse system for paper in printer rooms.
- Set up a collection system with one of the recycling collection companies on the recycling chart on this website.
- Replace all disposable products in the staff kitchen, including plates, cups, and utensils, and use reusable items instead. If you need to make the business case to management to get approval for this, look at how much you spend each year on disposables and compare that to how much it will cost to purchase a set of plates, glasses, and utensils. The change will usually pay for itself in a short period of time.
- Set printers to print double sided as a default. You’ll automatically cut your paper costs by 50%, so you’ll save money as well as resources (and, when necessary, people can always switch to single-sided printing for jobs that require it).
Energy Conservation & Renewables
- Replace all fluorescent lights with energy efficient lights, specially LEDs. Those overhead fluorescent lights in your office may or may not be energy efficient, depending up what type they are. Upgrading to LEDs will save both energy and money.
- Use smart power strips that will turn off peripheral equipment when the primary device is turned off. For example, when you shut down the computer connected to a smart power strip, the connected monitor and printer will be turned off, too, helping you to save energy without having to rely on employees having to remember to turn everything off.
- Enable power saver features on computers and other equipment and program computers to turn off after a certain time. This will reduce the power consumption when these items are not in use.
- Replace older toilets and faucets with low flow options. Water scarcity is one of the biggest challenges in global sustainability, and toilets and faucets are generally the biggest source of water consumption in a typical office environment.
- Set up a rain water harvesting system for irrigation.
Pollution Control and Management
- Check indoor air quality annually.
- Service air-conditioners every 3 months.
- Switch out toxic cleaners for multipurpose non-toxic options.
Environmental Education & Outreach
- Provide training for your employees on sustainability. A simple way to implement this is to hold “lunch and learns” where you either bring in a speaker, share a video, or facilitate a discussion on a topic related to sustainability.
- Consider allocating a small training budget for employees to attend conferences, seminars or online trainings and then have them share with co-workers what they learned.
- Get your employees involved in a volunteer program where they can work together to support and help within the community on initiatives they care about. Volunteer programs have been shown to increase employee engagement, and they’re also a great way to give back to the community.
Employee wellbeing and Productivity
- Set up each work station to be ergonomic for each employee.
- Get involved as a team (either as your whole business or in groups) to be a part of exercise events and compete against one another.
- Business offers weekly free exercise classes for staff.
- Share this list with your green team.
- Check off the items that you’re already doing, then mark the sustainability initiatives that would be 1) easiest and 2) most impactful for your business if you were to implement them.
- Review the ones that you’ve marked, prioritize them in the order in which you would like to complete them, and get started.
The benefit of identifying both the easiest and most impactful ones is that you’ll be able to both get some quick wins and have a significant impact.
Divert waste going to the landfill through reuse, recycling and composting initiatives