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How to Make Your Entire Office Greener

Posts by Laura Newcomer By
March 26, 2018

More and more companies are going green, and they’re enjoying some serious payoffs in the process.

For starters, developing an eco-friendly office reduces your company’s eco-footprint and benefits the health of the planet. Beyond these big-picture benefits, implementing sustainability initiatives at the office can also create a healthier workplace, yield significant cost savings, reduce waste, satisfy consumer demand, and improve your company’s reputation.

Ready to enjoy these perks? Here’s how to make your entire office greener

How to Go Green in the Reception Area

Going Green in the Reception Area

How to Go Green in the Kitchen

Going Green in the Kitchen

  • Recycle everything you can
    Kitchens are often home to aluminum cans, plastic containers, and other recyclables—so make sure it’s easy for team members to discard these items in recycling bins. Set up bins in a prominent place in the kitchen, and post signs that detail exactly what can be recycled.
  • Create a composting system
    Food scraps and coffee grounds that get dumped in the trash end up in landfills, where they’re unlikely to decompose. Composting, however, helps ensure those food scraps biodegrade into a rich fertilizer that can then be used to grow more food. Set up a composting station in the kitchen and consider donating the scraps to a local farm or a community garden.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use
    Toasters, microwaves, coffee makers, and other appliances that remain plugged in can drain power, even if they aren’t actively in use. For this reason, a simple way to save energy is to unplug all appliances except for when they’re in use.
  • Use green cleaning products
    Choose biodegradable, nontoxic, and petroleum-free cleaning products. Opt for reusable rags instead of paper towels when possible. (And if you must use paper towels, choose an unbleached, recycled brand.) When in doubt, a mixture of diluted vinegar and baking soda can take care of most of your scrubbing and disinfecting needs.
  • Use reusable dishware and utensils
    Ditch the paper plates and plastic forks and opt for reusable dishware and utensils instead. Establish clear expectations in terms of washing these dishes so piles don’t end up in the sink (and cause resentments among coworkers).
  • Buy in bulk
    Instead of purchasing individual packets of sugar, ketchup, salt, and so on, buy condiments in bulk to cut down on packaging waste. That means purchasing full-sized bottles and encouraging sharing.
  • Source local food for catered events
    If your company plans to supply lunch or another meal to team members, clients, partners, and so on, then choose local suppliers to reduce the meal’s carbon footprint. (Bonus points for sourcing from organic farms or restaurants.)
  • Donate office leftovers
    If you purchase large quantities of food for a meeting or event and your team members won’t be able to eat it all before it spoils, consider donating those leftovers to a local food bank or similar organization. Not only does this reduce food waste, it also helps members of your local community.

How to Go Green in the Break Room

Going Green in the Break Room

How to Go Green in the Main Office Space

Going Green in the Main Office Space

  • Source eco-friendly products
    Purchasing eco-friendly versions of common office products is a simple way to reduce your eco-footprint. Whenever possible, invest in locally manufactured, recycled, recyclable, nontoxic, and/or re-manufactured products. It’s also a good idea to work with suppliers who have certified eco-friendly credentials. There are greener versions of everything from paper clips to light bulbs to ink and toner cartridges, so do your research before making any purchases. While eco-friendly supplies may cost a little bit more than their conventional counterparts, think of it as an investment in the future of the planet.
  • Create an office recycling system
    Recycling is one of the easiest ways to reduce the waste produced by your office. Make it easy for your team to recycle by placing recycling bins in each office or room. Also be sure to post guidelines clearly explaining what types of products can be recycled and any specific requirements (such as whether lids can be recycled, containers need to be rinsed out, and so on.)
  • Cut down on paper use

    Reducing your office’s paper usage may require everyone to change some habits, but it’s well worth the effort. Trim paper use with the following steps:

    • Encourage team members to think before they print. Try not to print anything unless it’s absolutely necessary. Make the switch by distributing memos via email, foregoing handouts at presentations, issuing digital invoices instead of paper ones, backing up files on the cloud instead of on paper, and so on.
    • Program your printers so the default setting is to print on both sides. This can seriously reduce paper usage in those cases when someone does need to print.
    • Place a scrap paper box by the printer so people can reuse the scraps from failed print jobs.
    • Make sure all your mailing lists are up to date so you don’t unnecessarily send paper mailers.
    • Purchase recycled, chlorine-free paper so any paper that does get used is as eco-friendly as possible.
    • Encourage employees to recycle all paper products. Make it easy by placing recycling bins throughout the office (as noted above)—including in the printer room.
  • Take steps to save energy

    There are several strategies to reduce your office’s energy consumption:

    • Only use lights when it’s absolutely necessary. Rely on natural light as much as possible.
    • Post signs beside all light switches to remind people to turn off lights whenever they leave a room.
    • Replace all incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs.
    • Encourage team members to ditch screen savers (which eat up energy) and program computers to switch into standby mode when not in use.
    • Conduct an energy audit to learn whether you’re unnecessarily heating rooms in the winter and cooling them in the summer. Adjust temperature settings accordingly.
    • Make sure all electronics and lights are switched off at the end of each workday.
  • Recycle used office supplies
    Whenever a product has reached the end of its usable life in your office, research recycling options. It’s possible to recycle everything from furniture to computers, ink and toner cartridges. Pursuing these options can significantly reduce the waste generated by your office.

Taking the steps to make your office a greener space is an investment in a healthier present and future for your team members, your local community, and the world at large. Of course, all of these strategies only happen if your team is on board. For this reason, it’s important to bake eco-friendly attitudes into your company culture. Incorporate sustainability guidelines into your onboarding process for new hires, create a Green Team to manage the office’s green initiatives, and/or provide team members with resources and training to beef up their eco-friendly knowledge. By making sustainability a priority company-wide, you can increase the odds of shrinking your office’s eco-footprint.

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