How To Get Your Office To Commit To A More Sustainable Workplace

an office garden
An office garden

Going green in the workplace is more than just setting out recycling bins in the break room. From file sharing apps to electric vehicle plug-in stations, there are a number of creative ways your office can make a positive impact on the environment and make your company a place you can be proud of.

So, how do you do it? Before you jump the gun and start installing composting toilets and a strictly organic vending machine, take a moment to really think about the type of impact your company wants to make. Working towards a sustainable office environment takes planning, calculated implementation and active participation by your coworkers. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips to get your office started. Pick and choose what fits your action plan and make your workspace a green dream!

Digitize your documents

We live in a digital age and every office should try to go paperless where they can. Luckily there are many ways to skip on paper. With less paper cluttering up your office you can save on storage and save trees too!

File-share: Sharing documents across departments is easier than ever with programs like Google Docs, Dropbox and Microsoft Sharepoint. Instead of making edits on a hard copy, edit online and share the changes with your team! You won’t have to worry about misplacing work and you can even download files to your computer so you can keep working when you are offline.

Go Mobile: Mobile versions of file sharing apps are available in your phone’s app store, keeping all of your important files at your fingertips. Syncing your work email to your phone allows you to easily stay in touch no matter where you are. Consider bringing your phone or tablet to meetings for note taking, that way you can fire off ideas in an email instantly!

Scan and Shred: Make scanned copies of important paperwork that you need to keep around but don’t need an immediate physical copy of. Once the scan is made and you’ve got your files backed up in the cloud or on your hard drive, shred and recycle.

Use alternative transportation

Make an effort to minimize your company’s carbon footprint by implementing an alternative transportation incentive program. Employees that choose to carpool, take the metro or ride their bike to work can be eligible for a lunch raffle every month.

If your business is in a bike-friendly neighborhood, provide bikes for your employees to use during their lunch break. Cycling to lunch is a nice way to spend the lunch hour and a great way to get in a bit of exercise during your work day.

Employees that choose to carpool should get preferred parking in the company lot! If you’ve got the space for it, install an electric vehicle plug-in station for eco-minded employees and guests.

Shut down electronics

Cut down on watts and the company electric bill by turning off all electronics at the end of the day. Your computer works just as hard sitting idle overnight as it does running Microsoft Word during the day. With regular software updates and a proper shut down each night your computer gets a chance to breathe and will end up working faster in the long term.

Switch the lights

With the wide availability of CFL and LED light bulbs finding an alternative way to light your office is relatively easy nowadays. CFLs or compact fluorescent bulbs, are the swirly looking bulbs that are slowly taking the place of the traditional light bulb, and for good reason! CFLs use a quarter of the energy and last up to ten times longer. LEDs are slightly more expensive than CFLs but some can last for up to 100,000 hours.

Reevaluate workplace amenities

Installing dual flush toilets and low flow faucets will save considerably on the company water bill. Dual flush toilets allow you to use only the water you need by providing two convenient flushing options, a 1.1 gallon light flush or 1.6 gallon full flush. Faucets with the EPA certified WaterSense logo use a maximum of 1.5 gallons per minute, saving the average family 700 gallons per year!

Providing real dishes and silverware in the company break room rather than the typical paper or plastic selection is another great way to go green, and with the right plates, you can also bring a touch of class to your lunch hour. Put out a compost bin for compost friendly break room items like coffee grounds, tea bags, paper, paper towels and vegetable peels. Partner with a local composter or farm in your area to properly dispose of your bin!

The old office water cooler will be a thing of the past when you hook up your faucet to a filtered water system. Offering filtered water cuts down on plastic water bottle usage and provides a refreshing, clean alternative to the tap. And with a filtered system installed in-house, you won’t have to worry about a monthly water delivery!

Purchase smart

Assess company wide purchasing decisions and work with suppliers that have similar environmental goals as you do, or “green screen” your vendors. Going green is a multifaceted venture and ensuring your partner relationships fall in line with your company’s sustainability practices should be a part of the plan. Promote sustainability outside your office doors. With like-minded companies in your court your environmental impact can be far greater.

Research sustainable office supplies

There are a ton of green options out there when it comes to office products. The Green Office offers a comprehensive rating system on products of all types. Try purchasing recycled paper with a high percentage of post-consumer content. If you are looking for a sustainable pen option, the Pilot Bottle 2-Pen is made from recycled bottles! Buying remanufactured ink and toner cartridges keeps e-waste out of landfills and is a great alternative to high-priced genuine cartridges.

Develop a sustainability plan

Create an action plan that clearly states realistic short-term and long-term expectations. Harvard University developed a 5 year sustainability plan that outlines campus wide environmental goals that affect every department. Your action plan doesn’t have to be as detailed if you are running a small business, but writing down concrete goals holds the office accountable and paints a clear picture for all employees about what your intentions are.

Getting your office green won’t happen overnight. It will take a concerted effort by every department to create lasting company-wide sustainable habits. Once these habits are rooted into the spirit of your business staying green will be a breeze. Put together a green team committee that works to put your goals into action and start making a positive change today.

Based in Long Beach, Eric Stowell writes and researches for 4Inkjets.com. When he’s not reading up on the latest and greatest ink cartridges on the market, his interests include camping, hiking and traveling.

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