With roughly over 7 million brick-and-mortar workplaces in the U.S., each hosting a handful to thousands of employees each, you can easily see how such large numbers of businesses going green would make a significant difference to our country’s environmental impact. If millions and millions of us made small changes in our workplace habits it would and does have a huge impact. No one person or no company has to be perfect, but millions doing their absolute best can change the world in a positive way. By implementing the simple 10 things workplaces can do to be more eco-friendly, we would all see dramatic differences in environmental conditions in a short period of time.
If you ask anyone about their top three concerns for the future, global warming and climate change are right up there at the top of the list. When workplaces incorporate eco-friendly practices not only are they helping work towards a healthier ecosystem, but this also boosts employees’ positive mindset, productivity, and personal health. If your company hasn’t taken the initiative to do, jump in yourself and follow below on how to make your work environment more earth-friendly.
10 GREAT STEPS FOR GOING GREEN IN THE WORKPLACE
#1. Paper– The Paperless Project reports that about 45% of office paper ends up in landfills every year. American businesses use some 4 million tons of copy paper every year. That’s equal to destroying 100 million trees!
- Recycling a single ton of paper saves 17 trees.
- By changing to recycled paper, businesses could potentially save 68 million trees a year.
- Action steps to take:
- Number one, switch to paper made from recycled materials.
- Be mindful of printing practices.
- Print double-sided as much as possible.
- Send faxes electronically.
- And most of all, RECYCLE PAPER. Almost every recycling station across the US takes paper for recycling including shredded paper if bagged properly.
#2. Recycle policies– Other than constructing a green LEED-certified building from scratch, recycling is one of the biggest steps a workplace can do to become more eco-friendly.
- This is a crucial part of the waste reduction ecosystem.
- If your workplace doesn’t have recycle bins in the offices and common areas, encourage them to do so. Get a petition going with your co-workers if needed.
- If recycling at work isn’t an option, follow your own good habits and keep a bin for your recycling to deposit into the proper bins once a week or so.
- Use examples of top U.S. companies that are at the forefront of green initiatives. Encourage recycling as a part of the company’s values. Two examples to motivate your workplace are:
- Disney which has implemented zero net direct greenhouse gas emission policies within all its facilities. Disney also has a zero waste policy meaning that there is nothing that would end up in landfills. By using Smart technology, large qualities of water have been saved. In addition, they continue to work on lowering the footprint of their product manufacturing and distribution. This has made Disney a leader in environmental responsibility.
- Starbucks is another workplace that embraces environmental sustainability across the board. They purchase Fair Trade Certified and organic coffee and focus on achieving LEED certifications for any new shops. Its green building strategy includes adjusting A/C temperatures from the standard that is 72o to 75o F. Purchasing cabinets made from 90% post-industrial materials is yet another plan of their action plan.
#3. Lights– Switching to energy-saving lights is another easy and impactful way to go green in the workplace.
- LED lights conserve energy and last much longer than standard light bulbs while quiet adequately illuminating a room.
- Energy.gov reports LED is a highly energy-efficient lighting technology, and has the potential to fundamentally change the future of lighting in the United States. ENERGY STAR rated products use at least 75% less energy, and last up to 25 times longer, than incandescent lighting!
- And of course, encourage the use of natural light as much as possible.
#4. Eco-friendly office supplies– purchasing recycled products supports sustainable values and helps to support initiatives that preserve natural resources.
#5. Save Power– By turning computers and electronic devices completely off instead of letting them rest in ‘sleep’ or standby mode when not in use is a considerable energy saver.
- Screen savers use a lot of energy.
- And a majority of energy sources still come from unclean or fossil fuel sources.
- So the more energy saved, the less CO2 makes it into the atmosphere.
#6. Delete, delete, delete– Also part of the energy conversation efforts is deleting emails!
- It takes an enormous amount of energy for internet providers and email services to continually store all that data.
- Most people are not aware that emails do leave a carbon footprint.
- So once a week, go through your sent emails, your trash emails, and your spam folders and get rid of as much as you can.
#7. Purchase gently used– shopping for office furnishings and electronics from high-quality second-hand shops is a fantastic way for workplaces to be much more eco-friendly.
- From chairs, desks, tables, storage, or general decor, all manner of workplace-related items can be found in second-hand showrooms.
- Shopping this way is eco-friendly and saves a considerable amount of natural resources that are used when producing new items.
- For example, not only does The Local Flea located in San Fransisco, Phoenix, and Miami FL have an extremely large collection of gently used workplace furniture, but also high electronics: computers, monitors, printers, and networking equipment.
- Buying gently used is part of a circular economy mindset that aims to keep products in circulation as long as possible. It’s a way of conducting business that goes from purchase and trash to repair, upcycle, recycle, and reuse.
#8. Stop using disposables– unfortunately, one-time use waste is extremely high in most of the U.S. With so many eco-friendly and sustainable options there is no need to continue to add to our country’s landfills this way any further.
- Have coffee and tea stations at work? The best eco-friendly practice: provide reusable cups, mugs, dishes, and silverware.
- If that isn’t an option, then provide compostable disposables. These are made from plant products versus plastics or even worse styrofoam (which is totally toxic!)
#9. Non-toxic cleaning– a workplace that switches to non-toxic cleaning products will have made a big step towards becoming more eco-friendly.
- There are plenty of cleaning products made from natural substances instead of hazardous chemicals that are dangerous to the environment and individuals.
- Numerous studies have confirmed that chemical substances in cleaning products, irritate the eyes, skin, and in people’s respiratory tracts.
- They are also detrimental to the environment by releasing volatile organic compounds into the air and washing these same toxins into water supplies.
- Then there is also the plastic to consider. Almost 100% of cleaning products come in plastic containers that can only ever be recycled twice before permanently ending up in the landfill.
#10. Personal Responsibility– and lastly, there is taking responsibility for your own green actions in the workplace. If everyone made daily efforts to be more eco-friendly there would be a noticeable shift in the amount of waste and unsustainable side effects from all related practices.
- Using public transport; saves money and cuts back on CO2 emissions.
- Pack meals in reusable containers; again, saves you money and stops huge packaging waste plus the disposal of one-time-use items.
- Always use a refillable water bottle and actual beverage (coffee or tea) mug. Disposable water bottles have an atrocious environmental impact.
Summary: Hopefully, you can see how some new habits and eco-friendly policies employed at the workplace are easy to implement and make a large positive impact on the environment. Being conscious in the workplace as well as at home by making some simple and small changes will help us all move towards a greener future.
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