Sustainability is imperative in the modern working world. Offices all across the world are shifting towards eco-friendly practices as it creates a healthy environment for employees and reduces a company’s overall carbon footprint. Though switching to environmentally friendly practices may seem difficult at first, there are various measures that can be implemented quickly and without any major effort to make your office more sustainable.
4 Simple Ways to Make Your Office More Sustainable
Making use of eco-friendly practices at the office is not only advantageous for the environment, but it also decreases overhead expenses in the form of energy costs, attracts customers looking for likeminded brands and improves the health and satisfaction of employees.
A study found that green offices increase cognition by 26% and reduce sick days by 30%.
The following tips will aid you in making your office more environmentally sustainable:
1. Offer Sustainable Lunch
Eating sustainably at the office can be challenging for employees. In order to save time and effort, many workers opt for ready-made meals packaged in plastic or order take-out that’s often wrapped in aluminium foil or plastic containers and delivered in single-use bags. In China, the online take-out industry is responsible for 1.6 million tons of packaging waste every year, which includes 1.2 million tons of plastic containers, 164.000 tons of plastic bags and 44.000 tons of plastic cutlery.
Unfortunately, unsustainable food also tends to be cheaper than eco-friendly alternatives. However, there are delivery services for office workers committed to driving an industry-wide change — like our online canteen Bella&Bona. We believe that delicious food can be sustainable and affordable. In order to have a positive impact on the environment, we cook our meals with biologically certified products and use 100% biodegradable bamboo packaging. Furthermore, we incorporate seasonal and local produce in our dishes and deliver in bulk to reduce CO2 emissions.
Of course, sustainability is an ongoing effort, and this is also way we are looking to further improve our packaging and make it 100% reusable!
By the way, discontinuing single-use plastic flatware at the workplace can save companies between 2.500€ to 3.300€ every year.
2. Decorate with Plants
Greenery in the office not only creates a friendlier ambience and nice decor, it also improves the air quality and regulates humidity. The optimum humidity levels for offices range from 40% — 60%, which can lower the risk of illness and reduce breeding grounds for infectious bacteria and airborne aerosols. The oxygen emitted by plants also makes the air in your workplace cleaner and healthier to breathe in.
These are the three best office plants for removing toxins in the air:
1. Purple Waffle Plant (very easy to grow indoors)
2. English Ivy (low maintenance, clings to almost any surface)
3. Asparagus Fern (fast-growing tropical perennial)
A report published by the University of Technology in Sydney found that introducing plants to workplaces reduced tension and anxiety of office workers by 37%. The same report also recorded a 44% drop in workplace anger and hostility and an almost 38% decrease in fatigue among respondents. To ensure that the greenery in your office is taken care of, you can assign plants to staff members or have them pick out their favourite ones as part of a “plant adoption program”.
3. Reduce Energy Waste
In the United Kingdom, offices are losing €66.5 million every year in wasted energy through unsustainable practices such as overheating and the lighting of unoccupied spaces. However, simply changing a few habits around your office and adjusting where and how you use appliances can have a huge impact on your environmental footprint.
Here are some suggestions to reduce energy waste in the office:
- Use energy-saving technology to automatically switch off electronic devices after hours. Power strips can also be handy to unplug multiple devices at once. Doing so will not only help reduce your C02 footprint but significantly reduce your electricity bill, since you will no longer be paying for power consumed by machines on standby.
- Instal sensor lighting for areas that don’t need to be lit constantly, such as bathrooms, meeting rooms and hallways. Moving desks closer to natural light sources and reconfiguring the overall office layout to increase flow through, ventilation and light can also cut energy costs.
- Upgrade old equipment that is no longer working at their maximum efficiency. They draw unnecessary power — often up to 80% more than new devices — costing you more money. It’s best to replace your old office appliances with new certified energy efficient ones.
- Conserve the heat energy by modifying the temperature in your office slightly. Reducing the temperature by 1°C already saves up to 10% of heating costs and contributes to reducing your CO2 footprint.
To make it easier for you to save energy, you can set monthly green goals such as “reduce energy used in December of 2019 by 6% this year” and reward employees for yielding results.
4. Go Paperless
10.000 — that’s the number of paper sheets the average office worker uses every single year. It has also been estimated that 45% of paper printed in offices ends up going to waste by the end of the day. Sadly, many companies still remain at the mercy of paper-based systems, despite technologies being available to reduce paper usage or even eliminate it altogether. However, for years now we have seen a push for companies to use cloud services in an effort to become entirely paperless operations. A paperless office, also called a paper-free office, refers to a workplace which uses minimal physical paper and instead operates primarily with digital documents.
Tools to help you cut down the paper usage in your office:
- Use cloud-sharing to cut down on printed memos and reports: Replace your good old-fashioned filing cabinets with digital file-sharing systems such as Google Drive and Microsoft Office Sharepoint. This will save you time, space, money and effort.
- Implement project management tools to eliminate physical post-its, to-do lists and roadmaps: Writing post-its and printing out lengthy reports are a thing of the past. Instead, use project management tools like Notion and Asana to track deliverables, tasks and roadmaps.
- Use mobile apps to capture business cards: Instead of collecting an ever-growing stack of paper cards, use tools like Evernote to save them digitally.
- Ditch printed legal documents: Signing documents can be done using programs like Adobe Sign, which does not only help you cut down paper usage but speed up the process for everyone involved as well.
Written by Charline Will