With a few tweaks and not too much discomfort, you can start to make your workplace eco-smart and more sustainable.
Here are 11 tips we've been implementing in order to improve our own sustainability.
1 Waste Recycling
- Ensure that your office/venue/premises has all appropriate recycling bins and that they're clearly marked.
- Make sure the bins are accessible, clearly marked and that staff are constantly briefed to use them.
- Even though we brief staff to use the bins, they "sometimes forget" - it takes a constant reminder.
- Brief all staff to empty their bins as often as suitable into recycling as appropriate.
- Avoid clear bins - they can require cleaning.
- Appoint a monitor to ensure the process is working and to remind all staff.
2 Using Recycled Materials
- Paper for printers, notepads, pencils, pens, etc.
Let's face it the move to a paperless office hasn't been as comprehensive as we all thought it might be.
We're still using paper and, in some cases (especially the old-schoolers), a lot of it!
Change all paper to recycled paper - it really makes no difference to the quality or function.
3 Using an Environmentally-Friendly Ink Service
Make sure when you buy replacement ink that it comes from a source that takes recycling seriously (and never just throw the cartridge away!).
Check out Cartridge World
4 Changing Equipment
When you're buying equipment from now on, check out:
- The energy ratings
- Whether it's recyclable
- Plus the wastage and environmental practices of the company
Just as you would do at home (with washing machines, TVs, fridges, etc.), consider the energy efficiency of all new equipment you purchase.
For example, Philips have a range of "sustainable displays" - see more here.
Things are definitely changing here, there's an Irish company, iameco.com, working to create something truly unique: "a sustainable, ecological, high-performance computer, free from the harmful chemicals and heavy metals built into most computers"
5 Utility & Water Usage
Where can you make savings here?
- Printers, Computers & Monitors - Avoid turning on unnecessary equipment, keep unused machines off or in low power mode.
- Lighting - Change lighting to low energy alternatives with no loss in performance - we did it at our HQ in Bath. However, make sure you get expert guidance as you have employees to consider.
- Heating - This will depend on what you've got set up. If you want reliable input, you should speak to an expert - whether that's your plumber or a heating professional.
- Insulation & Draft Proofing - Pretty straightforward and you might even qualify for some help or write-offs here - ask your accountant. Believe it or not, there are professionals in this area and loads of help online, but if you don't do anything else, fix the basic need for draft proofing and not only will your staff be happier, but you'll save on the heating bill and immediately be more environmentally friendly.
- Washing Up - Have a comprehensive approach to washing up, if applicable, meaning do it all at the same time. If you use a dishwasher, fill it before you run it, and run it at night rather than the day. We use a slimline eco-friendly dishwasher which we run at night so our cups, etc. are always dry by the morning with no need for tea towels.
- Washing - Do you use tea towels, paper towels, ordinary towels or hand dryers? Think about how often you need to wash tea towels and/or towels (and it should be daily!), and how many paper towels you get through. Now decide if a hand dryer makes sense. We changed to short-burst hand dryers in our restrooms and never looked back.
- Timer Switches - Can you use time switches in the office? For example, we run an urn that switches on before the office opens and stays warm all day, meaning there's very little wasted downtime and we're not constantly boiling the kettle. Yes, some days we may keep more water warm than is necessary, but we've got this down to a pretty fine art these days.
- Get yours here.
If you have a smaller team in your office, check out this energy saving kettle.
6 Crockery, Cutlery & Cups
What about everybody having their own cup, plate(s) and cutlery - whether they bring it in or not - and they stick with their same cup all day. How much washing up would that save for starters? If you're more of a takeaway crowd, you could also provide a one-use branded cup for staff for their takeaway coffees if they drink them, avoiding the impact of all those throwaway coffee cups.
- Check out these recyclable glasses.
- Get your One use coffee cup here.
- Have reusable cutlery available for your staff, check them out here.
7 Cleaning - Use Environmentally Products
Possibly the easiest one of the lot - just change your cleaning products to the most eco-friendly around.
Ethical Superstore source eco friendly, vegan, palm oil free and fairtrade cleaning products from around the world, check them out!
8 Tea, Coffee, Milk, etc.
You've heard of Fair Trade, of course. Well, it's amazing how many of us just go through the motions with the basics, never thinking to change habits - a bit like sticking with the same bank.
It's time to change that - try to switch the basics to better basics that satisfy an improved approach to the environment. You can do that with tea, coffee, milk, sugar and more.
You could try these products:
9 External Services
Review your supply chain. This is pretty simple in that you want to be working with companies that support a better environmentally-friendly standard. Check out who you do business with and evaluate them accordingly. It might be a good time to change, and, if nothing else, it's a good requirement for all new companies. So brief all your staff to make this a criteria any new supplier should satisfy.
10 Lift Sharing, Public Transport & Bike to Work
You can make an environmental and financial impact by getting staff to save on transport by sharing lifts.
However, there is a legal trapdoor here which we don't know about, so we don't recommend this advice without doing your own checks.
If you do want to get involved, run it past your solicitor and/or insurer first. Otherwise, you could provide details on public transport to staff.
Also, ask your accountant about the schemes, initiatives and grants that exist in this area - we've used https://www.cyclescheme.co.uk before. Check them out.
You can find the biggest cycling brands all in one place at Rutland cycling.
11 Office Redecoration
If you're redecorating the office, opt for environmentally friendly finishes and furnishings. If you're outsourcing, make certain you're satisfied the company you use has credible environmental and waste policies.