There are lots of reasons to consider implementing sustainable practices in your business. Not only is it good for the environment, but it can reduce overheads in the form of energy costs, improve the health and satisfaction of your staff, and attract customers looking to do business with likeminded brands. Here are some simple changes that will make your office more environmentally sustainable.
Many organisations are well on their way to becoming paperless, but for some businesses, cutting out paper completely isn’t an option. If this is the case, make sure you recycle all paper and change the settings on your network so that paper is printed on both sides. If your company data is sensitive, look for a shredding company that offers a service where the paper is recycled once the information has been destroyed.
Of course, digital documents are easier and more affordable to store and retrieve. They reduce clutter in the office and if your business is in the cloud, the documents can be accessed from anywhere. It’s also a more secure way to run your business, should disaster strike. If you do need to print on paper, make sure you buy recycled paper from sustainable sources and use draft or toner-saving modes for internal printing that doesn’t need to be high quality. Don’t forget the paper towels in the bathroom—hand dryers can be a more hygienic, affordable and sustainable option.
Reuse & Recycle
Recycling is one of the easiest ways to make your office more environmentally friendly. Simply set up recycling bins around the office, with dedicated bins for glass, paper and plastics if your building collects these separately. Ink cartridges can be collected by Planet Ark, while electronic waste such as old monitors, printers, computers and cables can be dropped off at your nearest Tech Collect for recycling. If your coffee machine uses pods, recycle your capsules to avoid adding to the landfill toll.
Try to look for ways to reuse items, such as replacing disposable kitchen items with crockery and steel cutlery, or promoting the use of reusable mugs for the morning coffee run. You can also encourage employees to collect paper that’s only been printed on one side and use it as a notebook.
Reducing the electricity bill is not only good for the environment, it’s good for your bottom line. Here are some quick and easy ways to save energy in the office:
- make sure your office temperature is the right balance of comfort and cost, by setting the thermostat a few degrees lower in winter and a few degrees higher in summer
- walk around the office and see which areas are being heated or cooled unnecessarily, such as storage areas
- install energy efficient light globes in the office and consider sensor lighting for bathrooms and other places that don’t need to be constantly lit
- switch off TVs, lights and equipment when they’re not being used and disable screen savers—computers screens should go to sleep when they’re not in use
- close applications that you don’t use regularly on your computer and change the setting so they don’t open on login
- use laptops instead of desktops as they use less energy
- turn down the brightness setting on your computer screen to a level that’s both comfortable and energy efficient.
Adding some greenery to your office can do more than brighten up your office interior design. Psychologists at Exeter University found that employees are happier and perform better when living plants are added to the workplace, with a 15% increase in productivity and significant improvements in memory retention and other basic tests.
Plants also emit oxygen and reduce air pollution, making the air in your workplace cleaner and healthier to breathe. It can also reduce noise pollution, which is particularly important in an open-plan workplace. Try to use pot plants evenly around the office, so everyone can enjoy the benefits of nature.
Choose Sustainable Suppliers
Many suppliers understand that customers are looking for green products, so look at what your business purchases on a regular basis and see if there’s a more sustainable option. This may include natural bathroom or kitchen products, biodegradable cleaning products and recycled stationery.
Think about how far the products travel to reach you and see if there’s a local business offering a similar product to reduce your carbon footprint. Before procuring services, ask whether they have an environmental policy in place or relevant ISO certifications. Gaining accreditation through the Green Building Council of Australia can also let your customers know that you’re committed to maintaining a sustainable workplace.