Creating a more eco-friendly office environment is a great way to reduce waste and save energy – and potentially, it could also help to influence the environmental behaviors and choices of your co-workers. But how do you get your boss to support a complete overhaul of your company’s environmental practices?
Well, once sure-fire way to any self-respecting boss’s heart is to talk about the impact on the bottom line. UK-based environmental agency, Envirowise, found that the average office worker prints off around 1584 sheets of paper per month – that mounts up to a heck of a lot of forest and even more in office stationery costs! They also found that office workers use over 3 billion plastic cups annually for hot beverages, and waste approximately £100m per year in unnecessary electricity bills by leaving their computers on overnight.
So even if your boss or colleagues are not sold on the bigger environmental picture, there’s still a lot to be said for the benefits of conducting an eco-audit of your office. Here are some top tips to turn your energy-guzzling colleagues into fellow eco-warriors:
1. Go paperless
We’re fortunate to have amazing digital technology at our fingertips which allows us to store and share information quickly and easily without the need for excessive printing. Alongside email and electronic filing systems, there are a growing number of smart software programs that allow staff to collaborate online, rather than printing and re-printing new document versions all day long. You can also take advantage of printer default settings to ensure eco-friendly printing. Getting staff to reduce their paper consumption and recycle the paper they do use can have a huge impact on both the office stationery budget and the planet.
2. Remove the trash cans
Most employees will have their very own trash can under their desks. The problem is that having a trash can so close to hand means it’s easy to dispose of everyday items without thinking twice about whether they can be recycled. It’s a radical move, but why not withdraw individual trash cans, and set up a bank of recycling bins instead? This will encourage staff to consider how they dispose of waste while recruiting new converts to your office recycling program.
3. Don’t be a mug – buy one instead
Plastic-fantastic vending machines and water coolers are a regular feature of most offices. But we all know that the millions of plastic cups and coffee stirrers simply end up in methane-generating landfill, causing havoc for the environment. There’s a simple answer: use a mug instead. The chances are, you’ll enjoy your beverage more too!
4. Turn down the heat!
Monitoring the use of heating and air conditioning in your office is a great way to save energy. How many of us have been in offices or meeting rooms with the heaters on full blast and people start opening windows to let some air in?! Encouraging staff to be aware and responsible for managing office heating and cooling systems can ensure that your office is using energy efficiently at all times.
5. Switch it off
Leaving PCs, lights, photocopiers and other electrical appliances on overnight wastes an incredible amount of energy and can send your office utility bills through the roof. Why not hold a staff briefing to show the amount of energy used currently by your office – and then set a target for reducing energy consumption which everyone can sign up to support. You can also issue stickers for individual PCs to remind users to switch off at the end of every day, and perhaps nominate an ‘energy champion’ to continue reminding and motivating staff to switch off. Be sure to hold another briefing in 3 or 6 months time to let staff know about how their behavior changes have helped to save energy – and encourage everyone to share in the success.
An eco-audit of your office is not just about doing the right thing, it’s about doing the smart thing, to reduce office overheads while protecting the planet. And who knows – perhaps the changes introduced during office hours will inspire your colleagues to change their behaviors in other areas of their lives too, which can only be a good thing, right?