The planet that we call home is in trouble. Landfills are spilling over, plastics are choking oceans, and greenhouse gases are setting fires and melting ice caps. Every day you hear about these problems on the news, and every day they get more and more serious. Although climate change and pollution are complex and monumental issues, even the smallest of businesses can do their bit. By adjusting how you conduct your company and changing just a few everyday office habits, you can make a big difference in the impact that your business has on the world around us. With that in mind, here are fifteen things that you should do to make your office more eco-friendly.
Upgrade Old Office Equipment
Money is a resource often in short supply when running a small business. This is why most entrepreneurs do all that they can to cut costs. One particularly popular way to save is by purchasing second-hand office equipment, like computers and printers. The trouble is, these older electronics operate very inefficiently. This means that they use more energy than they need to run. Upgrading to newer models will cut costs over time and waste a lot less electricity.
Switch Off At Night
There is no reason why all of the devices in your office should be left on all hours of the day. Even when you’re not using your tech, it will continue to use electricity as long as it’s plugged in. The simplest remedy to this problem is turning all of your devices off at the wall when you leave for the night. Better still, you should take the plugs out of the outlets. If you think that you might forget to do this or just don’t have the time to, then put all of your electronics on timers instead.
Install Motion-Activated Lights
Rather than relying on employees to turn off lights as they leave the room, you should install motion-activated ones. This means that lights will turn off on their own if someone hasn’t been in the place for a while. These lights save energy right away, as many of your staff will be busy and are therefore likely to forget to do this simple task. This will also increase the safety of your office, as you won’t have to leave a dark building when you head home every night after work.
Keep The Blinds Open
Although you will have to turn on the lights now and then, you should rely on natural lighting as much as possible. By keeping the blinds open, you can create a brighter space without using any electricity at all. This is better for the environment but benefits you and your staff too. It does so by controlling your body’s circadian rhythm. This will leave your staff feeling energized and more productive, which means that they’ll work harder and take fewer days off work sick.
Buy Green Office Supplies
Every office has certain supplies it needs to get through the day. These include things like pens, paper, folders, binders, and much more. Instead of choosing the cheapest option to fill your supply closet, you should upgrade to green alternatives. This means biodegradable pens and recycled paper. You can also ask that your staff reuse certain products, like binders and folders. These are only small changes, but they will make a huge difference if you keep them up.
Limit The Paper Use
Most businesses use much more paper than they necessarily need to. They send out countless copies of the same letter, keep hard copies of files in cabinets, and hand out receipts with every transaction. Thankfully, there are many ways that you could limit your paper use. You could send fax online, for example, and store important documents on the cloud. You can email receipts to customers too, and focus on digital marketing tactics, like social media, rather than printed ones.
Replace Wasteful Paper Towels
Even if every member of your staff only goes to the bathroom once a day, they are still going to use a lot of paper towels when drying their hands. Replacing these products with air dryers is much more efficient and produces none of the waste. You should also try switching the paper towels in the office kitchen for tea towels. These are reusable, so have much less of an impact. If you’d prefer to stick with what you’ve got, then at least choose towels made from recycled paper.
Sort Out Your Trash
Try as you might, you aren’t going to eliminate waste completely from your office. This means that some paper is going to be thrown in the trash. Rather than putting all rubbish into the same bin, you should provide a few different ones. This allows you to separate recyclable materials from general waste. Recycling what you can means that less trash is going to be sent to landfills. If you have a kitchen in your office, you might want to put out a compost bin too.
Clean With Natural Products
Keeping the office space clean is very important. However, you must make sure that you choose the right products to clean with. Most typical cleaning supplies contain harmful chemicals that can damage your health, as well as the environment. Avoiding such products, therefore, will do a lot of good. Instead, you should use green alternatives, made from natural ingredients. These tend to work just as well, if not better, but are much less pricey and don’t cause any harm.
Source Supplies In Bulk
It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying pens, coffee, or cleaning cloths; You should source your office supplies in bulk. Everyone knows that doing so tends to cost less money, but it also has less of an impact on the planet. This is because it eliminates any unnecessary waste, especially when it comes to single-serve packet products, like sugar, pepper, and salt. It also means that fewer products will need to be transported to the office, which will reduce carbon emissions.
Care For Office Plants
Many products in your office, such as new furniture and cleaning supplies, will release chemicals into the air. For this reason, if you are able to, you should bring a plant or two into the space. The greenery will produce oxygen, which will offset the chemicals in the air, improving air quality. This will reduce the carbon emissions of your office, but also creates a healthier space for you and your team to work. The result of this will be fewer sick days and higher rates of productivity.
Lay Off The Thermostat
Even during the warmer summer months, it’s not uncommon to see office employees wearing jackets and sweaters to work. Most workplaces are very over-air conditioned, leaving the space feeling very cold. Instead of wasting energy unnecessarily, you should set your thermostat a few degrees higher. By doing so, you will keep the office at a more comfortable temperature for you and your staff and use less energy in the process. This will save you money in the long run too.
Embrace Green Power Sources
Sustainable energy is more accessible today than it ever has been. With green options including wind and solar energy, organizations of almost any size can make the switch. Although it is often a costly change, your business will make the money back eventually. Once this has happened, any electricity you use after that will essentially be free, as well as completely clean. If you ever generate more energy than the business needs, you can also sell it to the grid for extra cash.
Provide A Bike Rack
Cars are really bad for the planet. In fact, they are one of the biggest contributors to emissions. This means that, if you drive to work each morning, you’re helping to damage the ozone layer. To prevent this, you should walk or cycle to work instead. Installing a bike rack outside the office makes it much more likely that your team will join you, as it means they have somewhere safe to store their own bicycles. This is a very small investment, but it comes with so many benefits.
Use A Smaller Space
You don’t need a huge office space to be successful in business. In fact, some of the most influential entrepreneurs built up their companies from the comfort of their own homes. If you have unused meeting rooms or empty offices in your building, then you’re wasting energy. Because of this, you should try downgrading to a smaller space. A smaller office would need fewer utilities and less maintenance, which means you’d cut costs and reduce your impact.
A greener office is beneficial in so many ways. It eases the impact you have on the planet, reduces overheads, and attracts business from eco-conscious individuals. Far too many entrepreneurs put off greening their companies, as they assume that it’s too much work. Hopefully, after reading the advice above, you now know this isn’t true and will begin making changes yourself.