By Tania Longeau
When we think of going green, one word typically comes to mind: recycle. While recycling paper and ink cartridges is a great start, there’s so much more you can do at the office to make it more eco-friendly.
By going green, you reduce emissions and the impact on the environment. You also prevent waste and save money in the process. So, if your company wants to save money (who doesn’t?), it’s time to get some office guidelines in place so your employees can be more proactive in saving the planet. Here are five tips to help you get started.
1. Reduce Printing
With documents available on a cloud or server any time we need them, there’s less need to print. This is especially true if your employees often work from home or are mobile. Instead of encouraging printing, go digital. Make everything available on the server or online so that it can be easily accessed.
If you must print something, avoid waste. Make sure the document is proofed and the way you want it before you hit Print. In many cases, documents have been prematurely sent to print. Employees then catch the typos and have to resend everything to print again, wasting reams of paper – and ink.
If you’re a publishing company, implement online editing so employees can edit documents without having to print them. If you have a practice of keeping hard copy manuals, convert everything to online only. This will save time and money in the event that you ever have to make updates.
2. Save Electricity
Offices tend to use too much energy, especially when they have a mostly remote workforce. In fact, in an office setting, 40% of electricity consumption comes from artificial lighting. Switch off lights when a room is not in use. This includes nighttime, too. If leaving lights on tends to be a problem, install motion-activated lights. The lights will stay on for a certain period of time and then automatically shut off if no movement is detected.
Use energy-efficient fluorescent lighting, which uses 75% less energy than incandescent light bulbs. They also last much longer. Better yet, take advantage of the sunlight on sunny days. Use light wall colors, which help the sunlight reflect better, reducing the need for artificial light.
If no one is using a computer, printer, or copier, power it down. In many cases, office power is consumed by machines that are turned off but still plugged into outlets. There are programs that can automate this process by automatically powering down appliances.
3. Buy Energy-Friendly Office Equipment
Don’t avoid equipment that is remanufactured. For example, ink cartridges work just as well as new ones and cost 15% less. They’re also better for the environment, as reused cartridges cut down on metal, plastic and oil usage – all materials which harm the environment.
In addition, look for office equipment that is energy-friendly. You should be able to identify if a piece of equipment is good for the environment by finding an Energy Star logo or another similar logo. These types of equipment use less power, which saves the environment.
4. Go Green in the Bathroom and Kitchen
Get rid of wasteful paper towels and use cloth towels instead. Buy breakroom items – like coffee, creamer, and sugar – in bulk. Stop buying disposable paper cups and buy each employee their own coffee mug instead.
Toilet flushing wastes the most water in an office environment. Instead of asking employees to not flush the toilet (Ew!), save money on water consumption by changing out toilets to low-flush options. If this isn’t an option due to your budget, you can put a brick in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush.
Invest in green cleaning products. These products are not only good for the environment, but they’re non-toxic as well. This means you’re protecting the health of your employees. Method, Pink Solution, and Nature Clean are some cleaning brands to consider. If you use a cleaning company, ask them to start using green products. If they refuse, switch to a different company, and you may even save money.
5. Enforce Telecommuting
Telecommuting may seem more like an employee perk, but, by allowing employees to work from home, companies benefit as well. It cuts down on pollution and saves power in the office since the employeeis at home working instead of using appliances in the office. In addition, telecommuting is a morale booster. Employees are able to focus more on work instead of wasting time stuck in traffic.
Telecommuting also creates work/life balance. Instead of not being able to work when a child is sick, employees can work from home. This is a win-win for both employees and employers.
There are so many other things your company can do to encourage a productive office environment without promoting waste. While going green can be a drastic change for an office, the changes don’t have to occur all at once.
Start small and take it one step at a time. For example, start with a recycling program. Then encourage less printing. Keep going from there. You can make it a point to start a new green initiative for the office every month.
If your company hasn’t been focused on being environmentally friendly in the past, don’t worry. It’s never too late to start. Do your part today and go green.