For decades, business has been depicted as an unstoppable force of pollution and wasteful practices victimizing the natural world. Now, however, increasingly efficient technology has made it both affordable and easy to reduce your company's impact on the environment. These are ten of the most quick and effective ways to green your office and contribute to the conservation movement.
Mind the Lights
In busy offices, it can be tempting to leave lights on at all times. Not only does this harm the environment by wasting electricity and requiring the manufacture of more light bulbs, but it also runs up your energy bill. A simple reminder to turn off the lights as employees exit a room is all that is needed to be more eco-friendly.
Reduce Paper Consumption
Despite operating in the digital age, many companies blow through reams of paper without a second thought and then throw it into a landfill to decompose. Paper waste is easy to overlook and even easier to correct. Set printers to print double-sided pages to automatically cut paper use in half, or buy recycled paper to save a few more trees. Whenever possible, keep documents digital and distribute them through email or cloud sharing. Even the paper cups seen so often in break rooms or by a water cooler can be replaced by personal mugs.
Organize Car Pools
Offices tend to draw in employees from miles away, driving alone for the entire trip. With some careful planning, commuters can lower their monthly gas bills while adding less carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Encourage your workers to make plans based on geographic proximity and to trade off driving duties. Although it takes coordination and responsibility, an established car pool is easy to maintain and beneficial to all parties.
Minimize Heating and Air Conditioning
The perceived need to keep air at a steady temperature throughout the year leads to an overuse of heating and air conditioning when people are perfectly capable of acclimating to seasonal variations. A difference of a few degrees, lower in winter and higher in summer, will in all likelihood only be noticeable to accountants tallying up savings in your heating and air conditioning budget.
Recycling is one of the oldest methods used to improve eco-consciousness, and it remains one of the most valuable. Giving resources a second life removes pressure from the environment, which sustains a massive load of new development and mining in large part due to inefficiency and a reliance on immense landfills. Encourage recycling by placing bins next to regular trash cans and hosting educational workshops to refresh knowledge about what can and cannot be recycled. Businesses can further recycle paper, cardboard boxes and packing supplies, which is again likely to save money.
Use Green Cleaning Products
Air quality in an office can contain more pollutants than the outside world because of toxic cleaning supplies. These chemicals, when flushed down a drain, also contaminate water supplies and local soil, leading to a buildup that damages plants and animals in the area. Nontoxic cleaning supplies result in the same sanitary surfaces but are less damaging to employees and the environment.
Recycling supplies manufacturers with more eco-friendly materials, but it is better to recycle equipment as well. Used office furniture is just as practical as new and often shows little to no signs of wear. Even better, they come at a steep discount for the same quality. Another option is to rent serviced offices, which may be fully furnished and use fewer resources with every transition.
Optimize Computer Settings
Electronics are now so ubiquitous in office settings that they are left running without much regard for their energy consumption. Besides being kept on to needlessly sap electricity, they may also be running at a higher performance level than standard office work requires. Change computer settings to power saving modes so that they will go to sleep during stretches of inactivity and moderate performance. At night, unplug the power strip as well as shutting down the machines to prevent electricity leeching.
Office plants are a beautiful accent that also improve air quality in a building. Businesses with grounds can take this one step further by planting trees or even converting some acreage to a natural ecosystem. Lawns, though pleasant to look at, demand far more water, nutrients and fossil fuels to maintain while providing no value to local wildlife.
More and more businesses are turning to telecommuting as a cost-effective way to reduce the space needs and environmental impact of their offices. There are still concerns about employee productivity, but dedicated workers can actually get more done without the worries of commuting and office politics. The move can cut costs for everyone involved and drastically reduce the environmental footprint of each employee.