green-kermitDespite even the best intentions, our everyday behaviour can have serious, long-term effects on the environment. Especially at the office, where our days are filled with projects, emails, meetings and plastic-packaged takeaway lunches, potentially harmful habits can slip by unnoticed.
However, environmental concerns are moving to the forefront of modern ethical issues, and it’s literally changing the way we do business. Not only is it becoming more important than ever to reduce our impact, it’s important for businesses to present an eco-friendly culture to attract conscientious consumers.
I’m here to prove Kermit wrong: it is easy being green.
Here are 5 simple tips to make your office more environmentally friendly.
TURN IT OFF.
Computers, as well as other common office staples like printers, copiers and other large electronics, are a huge energy source. Even in ‘standby’ mode, they continue to sap power when not in use. So when you leave the office for the day, switch everything off. Efficiency tip: connect all your main electronics to one power strip, that way you can shut down with an easy flick of a switch.
Oddly enough, another way to ‘go green’ is to ‘go black.’ PC monitors, LCD screens and other electronics use more power when displaying pages that are white.
According to research done in 2012 by the New York Times, digital warehouses use about 30 billion watts of electricity: roughly the equivalent to 30 nuclear power plants. Think about Google’s homepage – bright and white – and then think about how many searches you make every day. Try using a version of Google search with a black interface, like Blackle, to reduce your electricity use.
It really is as easy as it sounds: don’t print documents out unless absolutely necessary. These days almost every task can be completed via the cloud, and can be kept digital to minimise paper waste. And thanks to webcams, we can even conduct meetings online using software like GoToMeeting, so you don’t have to worry about hurting the environment on the way to your next meeting.
When you do have to make a hard copy, make sure to look for recycled paper high in ‘post-consumer waste.’ This basically means materials we have no need for anymore – old flyers, magazines we’ve already read, packing, etc. – and this shouldn’t be confused with ‘pre-consumer waste’, which are the manufacturing scraps put back into the process.
Switch window cleaners, surface cleaners, hand and dish soaps and bathroom cleaners for green, biodegradable alternatives. Although these might be a bit pricier, the formula is usually more concentrated, so you’ll get your money’s worth.
Another thing to consider: going carpetless. That way, you won’t have to spend money on carpet treatments that are full of chemicals.
Consider having a ‘work from home’ day once a week to reduce pollution generated by lengthy commutes. UK workers are spending on average 211 hours per year in transit to/from work: that’s the equivalent of more than a month’s full-time work. Not only is detrimental for our personal health, it’s harmful to the environment.
‘Greenifying’ your office shouldn’t be dismissed because, in fact, it’s incredibly easy to ‘be green.’ It’s as easy as remembering to turn off all electronics at the end of the day or switching the background of your Google homepage. Environmental issues are becoming an important part of our office culture, and it’s never too late to adopt responsible, low impact habits to preserve our planet.