The idea of introducing green initiatives into the workplace can feel a little daunting at first. And while it may feel overwhelming trying to figure out where to start, there are actually lots of ways we can be more green in the office without bringing the whole forest inside, without huge cost implications and with long-term benefits to your company, employee well-being and future spend. Implementing a few simple changes for a more sustainable, green workplace can be really effective in reducing your business’ impact on the environment.
In this post, we’ll tell you about our green workplace initiative to make your workspace more eco-friendly. It might be replacing a current object with a digital solution, switching off the lights when they aren’t in use or altering the way you buy your milk... but the key is replacing processes that create unnecessary waste with processes that create less to none. If you’re looking for ways to introduce more green workplace initiatives, you’ve come to the right place! Here are 9 ways you can start a green initiative at work.
1. Install and encourage the use of a recycling bin
This might sound like we're starting off as Captain Obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many of us either don't have a recycling bin or just don't use the ones we have. The US alone throws away $11.4 billion worth of recyclable containers and packaging every year*, which suggests that recycling bins are not being used correctly. Be sure to have a recycling bin in the office for maximum green points, or start a recycling initiative where everyone has a recycling box on their desk and only one rubbish bin placed in a communal area (as opposed to rubbish bins at every station) to encourage mindfulness around how we discard waste.
2. Only boil as much hot water as you need
Boil the kettle enough for those who need it. After much research, it’s still unclear whether a hot water tap is actually more effective than a kettle so for now we'd suggest that, if you have a kettle, just boil what you need. Don't boil the maximum just in case someone else wants a cuppa - check first (and tick off improving team relations and communication while you're there along with green workplace initiatives!).
3. Switch off the lights or power when not in use
Every evening, turn off electric items including lighting, heating and air con - make sure the last one out of the building always does this. Not only that, but during the day, it might not be necessary to have all the lights switched on so be conscious of electricity usage and switch off lights in unused meeting rooms and corridors where possible. If budget allows, consider sensor activated lights which are sure to not only help save power (and the planet along with it) but are also sure to reduce power costs in the long-run.
4. Invest in eco friendly bean bag fill
Bean bags are all the rage in break out areas of small and large workplaces alike. But they come at a huge environmental cost. These squishy relaxation stations are full of tiny pollutants - polystyrene balls. Ever tried filling a beanbag? Chances are, you'd swear to never fill one again... These little critters are thought to take over a million years to decompose. And unfortunately, we're only likely to discover this when it's too late. Let's help our planet make it to one million years from now to find out and use a compostable option, or choose an alternative eco-friendly option to go green.
5. Introduce green challenges for employees
To help get everyone on board and motivated about green workplace initiatives, why not create monthly green challenges with your team? Think bike to work day, use less fuel day, wear recycled fibres day, bring your lunch in a wax wrap day, BYO keep cup or coffee cup day. You could even have a green challenges leaderboard and incentivise your staff and employees with a monthly winner of the 'greenest employee' award. The average office worker in the United States goes through roughly 500 disposable cups annually - think of the difference just one keep cup per staff member could make!
6. Choose can instead of glass
Those Friday beers? Opt for cans over glass for maximum green points. While glass is infinitely recyclable – without any loss in purity or quality - Aluminium is the #1 recycled material in the USA and makes up less than 1% waste because of this. So choose cans over glass options to help reduce demand on glass production.
7. Swap to plastic-free milk
Can you get your office milk from a local dairy farm? In New Zealand we definitely can! Why not try refillable milk bottles that you can use over and over again and buy direct from the source. If you do need to choose glass bottles, be sure to choose ones which are already made from recycled glass, and be sure to make these a forever use in your office (i.e whatever you do, don't throw out those glass bottles into the waste bin!).
8. Go paperless
We live in an age where workplaces are becoming increasingly digitised. Is it really necessary to print single sided or have a paper visitor book? Start by reducing waste at the front desk and replace your paper visitor book with a digital solution (we can help with that 🙋♀️🙋♂️). According to Rubicon* making new paper from recycled materials uses less energy than producing paper from virgin tree products and leaves more trees to absorb excess carbon dioxide. Not only that, but for every 1 ton of paper that’s produced, roughly 390 gallons of oil is used to make it. So, if you're going to use paper or print marketing material, then be sure to choose recycled options and reducing paper usage where possible is integral to implementing green initiatives in the workplace.
9. Compost It
If you have to go plastic for bin bags for safety purposes, opt for the compostable option. And if you have food waste or coffee grinds waste, pick up some recycled paper bags or tell your colleagues to BYO container to take them home in for use in the garden compost. Everyone is a winner!
Photo credit: Feature image Dan Rogers
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