20 Ways to Go Green at Work
Throughout recent years, more and more people have sought to adapt their domestic lives in order to “go green”. Measures such as reducing home water waste, reducing energy consumption, and opting to buy local produce all have a role to play in helping the environment and have been readily adopted by millions of people.
However, while domestic adoption of “green” tactics has been accepted, many businesses have struggled to find ways to “go green” in their business environments. In an effort to remedy this issue, below, we have put together 20 easily-implemented ideas that can help you to bolster your environmentally-friendly activities in the workplace.
#1 – Switch To Renewable Energy Supplies
Business energy usage is both expensive and potentially harmful to the environment. Switching to a renewable source of energy can be doubly advantageous. For most businesses, switching to solar is usually the more beneficial option.
A qualified consultant from a solar energy firm can help to manage this process in order to achieve incredible energy savings. They can also assist in helping to drastically reduce costs for the business.
#2 – Go Paperless
Modern technology has meant that business’ reliance on paper has drastically reduced over recent years, so opting to go paperless in your office is a natural continuation of an already-established trend. Switch to email as your primary method of communicating and use apps, rather than paper, to take notes.
#3 – Control E-Waste
Electronic waste – better known as e-waste – is a growing problem, as devices such as computers, laptops, and smartphones have a far shorter lifespan than the analog items they replaced. You can cut your e-waste simply by opting to repair rather than replace or opting to recycle old electronic items rather than disposing of them entirely.
#4 – Toss Out The Plastic
Plastic is perhaps the ultimate scourge of the environment, and reducing your reliance on it is a great way to immediately achieve a greener workplace. Rather than relying on plastic supplies, opt for materials such as wood and metal wherever possible. In making the switch to better materials, you can also send all of your existing plastic items (everything from trash cans to folders) to be recycled.
#5 – Make Sure Your HVAC Is Working Properly
When used correctly, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems are relatively harmless for the environment. They allow employees to work in comfortable, cool conditions through the summer months and they’re generally seen as being highly beneficial.
However, if HVAC units leak, then they can release harmful hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) into the air. Studies have shown that HFCs leaks contribute greatly to global warming. As a result, ensure your HVAC system is regularly serviced in order to ensure leaks are thoroughly prevented.
#6 – Add Plants To Your Office
The more greenery there is in your workspace, the better. Adding a number of plants can improve indoor air quality. You could even consider using the roof of your work building to create a small, eco-friendly garden, potentially even growing some of the fruit and vegetables that are then used to prepare workplace meals.
#7 – Stop Using Disposable Items
Disposable items only intended for a single use such as coffee cups or plastic cutlery are incredibly harmful to the environment. While disposable items are often seen as more convenient, this convenience is far outweighed by the environmental cost. So it’s helpful to switch to products that can be used repeatedly, potentially for years.
#8 – Optimize Your Lighting
Many workplaces are still relying on older forms of lighting like light bulbs, which are both less-than-ideal for the environment and more expensive to run. By opting for LED light bulbs, you’ll save more energy and reduce your energy bills. This can be done without compromising the overall quality and intensity of the lighting.
#9 – Change Your Commute
A great way to instantly go green is to choose to cycle to work rather than drive your own car. If you live close to your workplace, this is definitely an idea you’ll want to consider. But if cycling isn’t possible due to distance or other constraints, public transport is the next best option, with ridesharing a further alternative you may wish to consider.
#10 – Conduct An Energy Audit
Often times businesses are using more energy than necessary without actually being aware of the issue. A scenario that is costly both to the company and the environment as a whole. By hiring energy efficiency consultants to conduct an energy audit, you can survey the whole company’s allowing you to gain a complete insight into overall usage. You can identify areas of potential wastage. And an energy efficiency firm can provide recommendations on the changes you could make to reduce consumption in future, potentially saving your company a small fortune.
#11 – Unplug Electronic Devices When They Are Not In Use
When an electronic device is plugged in, drawing power, but not in use, it is commonly referred to as a “vampire device”. These vampire devices can use a huge amount of energy over the course of a year. A general rule of thumb is: If an electronic device is not being used, switch it off completely and remove the plug.
#12 – Use Reusable Containers For Meals & Drinks
Another important point when seeking to reduce the number of disposable items used in the workplace is switching to reusable containers for meals and drinks. Opt for stainless steel storage for drinks and meals wherever possible. If you do have to use plastic, ensure it is labeled as free of BPA.
#13 – Cut Down On Paper Waste
Before you go to print anything, ask yourself if it really needs to be printed. Consider whether or not the same message could be shared by uploading it to the cloud or sending via email.
#14 – Recycle
It’s often tempting to dispose of items when they are no longer useful, but recycling is always an option worth exploring. Even if an item cannot be literally recycled e.g., the materials repurposed into the creation of another object, look for options that allow it to be repurposed.
For example, a broken laptop may not be much use to you, but plenty of computer repair specialists may want it. They would be more than happy to strip the same laptop for parts and put them to further use.
#15 – Switch To Eco-Friendly Office Supplies
For the most part, modern manufacturing methods of office equipment are bad news for the environment. Thankfully, more and more products are now being manufactured ethically, using different and often recycled materials. So when possible opt for these alternatives rather than the standard, mass-produced options.
#16 – Take The Stairs
As we have discussed, reducing energy is an essential component of any “go green” movement. And so using the stairs rather than the elevator is a small, but significant, way of contributing to overall reduction efforts. If your office is located on a particularly high floor, or you experience health issues, you may want to focus primarily on using the stairs to travel down rather than up, or just take the elevator halfway and walk the rest if possible.
#17 – Use Natural Light
The greatest source of light for any business is the sun. Sunlight is free, energy efficient, and can even help to boost people’s moods. Try to use natural light wherever possible, keeping windows free of obstructions and resisting the urge to switch on indoor lighting until the point it is absolutely necessary.
#18 – Telecommute When (& If) You Can
One of the best ways to go green at work is to go green by not actually being at work. If you can telecommute a few days per week, you can avoid your (potentially polluting) literal commute. This can lower your company’s use of energy for the day and avoid the use of supplies such as single-use items. If you’re telecommuting chances are you’ll naturally use less paper too, as all your communications with your colleagues will have to be sent electronically.
#19 – Install Motion Sensors
Many businesses often feel they have to constantly light their premises at night for security purposes. Lights can have negative consequences for energy consumption. By switching to motion sensor lighting, you can ensure that power is only used when it is truly needed, helping to reduce usage overall.
#20 – Buy Remanufactured Ink & Toner Cartridges
Even if you seek to reduce the need to use your office printer, as suggested above, there will inevitably be times when printing is the only option. When such a circumstance arrives, an eco-friendly option well worth pursuing is purchasing remanufactured ink and toner cartridges.
These cartridges are essentially recycled. The manufacturer collects used cartridges, replaces the ink or toner, refurbishes the cartridge housing, and then offers for resale. As a result, remanufactured options are a far “greener” choice in comparison to brand new cartridges.
By implementing the tips above, you can “go green” at work and further contribute in the effort to protect the environment.
Have any of the ideas above caught your eye? Which do you think you might be tempted to try in the future?
About Verde Solutions
Verde Solutions is full service, energy efficiency consultant firm founded on three main principles; Innovation, Sustainability, and Efficiency. At Verde, we create value for our clients and communities by providing innovative energy efficient solutions. By reducing energy use and utilizing renewable energy, we lower costs and set a sustainable path for the future.