There is, as the saying goes, no Planet B. From climate change to ocean-spanning garbage patches, the earth is under threat. And it will take concerted, collective human effort to reverse—or at least slow—the damage.
Living in better harmony with the environment is therefore crucial in all facets of life, and the workplace is no exception. Promoting eco-friendly efforts in the business world benefits the planet and your bottom line by reducing waste and promoting mindfulness. Even the most minor changes can make a big difference over time when going green. Here are four ways to create a workplace that supports the earth and your employees.
1. Upgrade Your Utilities
Utilities like HVAC systems, lighting, and water can be major energy consumers and wallet drainers. Heating and cooling typically make up the most significant chunk of power usage, so look for solutions that increase efficiency. Traditional HVAC systems can lose 20% or more of energy produced through ductwork distributing that energy to multiple areas. HVACDirect.com recommends using mini split units that require no ductwork and achieve the highest levels of efficiency when it comes to the production and distribution of energy.
Ductless mini splits are also more energy efficient because they heat and cool by zones. You can keep your main office areas appropriately regulated while less occupied spaces, like storerooms, can be kept at temperatures that consume less energy.
Bring further relief to your electric bill by also upgrading to motion-activated lights. These smart systems stop you from unnecessarily brightening a room no one is even using. According to the Department of Energy, adding lighting controls can lower lighting energy use by 10%-90% depending on where you install them. If you’re lucky enough to have ample sunshine hitting your building, take advantage of all opportunities to use natural light instead of the artificial kind.
Lighting isn’t the only way to take advantage of motion-activated technology. Automatic dispensers and motion-controlled faucets in office bathrooms help save on soap, paper towels, and water.
2. Go Paperless
Ditching paper in favor of digital alternatives reduces waste and supports more effective workflow. Cloud-based storage platforms like Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud, and Microsoft SharePoint save paper and increase accessibility to important information within your network.
Old-school paper systems make it too easy to lose crucial work documents or miss a meeting since your desk calendar can’t send helpful notifications like online systems do. Paper-based filing systems, calendars, and everyday documents are just a few items that should be transitioned into the digital world.
Going paperless has an increasingly broad range of benefits for your organization and the planet. These modern solutions cut clutter, reduce document-sharing snafus and streamline task handoffs. Asana is just one of the online management tools that are essential to success for modern businesses since they let co-workers collaborate via a cloud rather than outdated paper systems. And they reduce landfill waste and discourage deforestation.
You can also swap out wasteful paper towels in the restroom in favor of hand dryers. Over time the change will positively affect your office supply budget and prevent paper products from overflowing your trash cans.
3. Don’t Neglect to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Just because “Reduce, reuse, and recycle” has been drilled into us for years doesn’t mean these “three Rs” aren’t still the best actions to take for supporting the planet. While people typically look for ways to implement these principles at home, they are also critical to embrace at work.
For example, your office should have a recycling station with separate bins for plastic, glass, paper, and aluminum. This separation helps easily organize recyclable waste and encourages employees to be mindful of what they’re tossing out.
Putting in a water bottle refilling station is an excellent method for reducing single-use plastic water bottles. To cultivate a cleaner world, stock your break room with reusable dishware as well. Not only will you shrink your waste stream, but you’ll also avoid buying wasteful and unnecessary paper plates, plastic utensils, and single-use cups whenever there’s an office birthday party or team lunch.
4. Embrace a Hybrid Work Model
Hybrid work models are another means of caring for workers and the planet. Allowing employees to work from home, even one or two days a week, reduces vehicle carbon emissions by cutting down on daily commutes to the office.
Having fewer people in the workplace at once also lowers recurring utility and supply costs. The dramatic increase in at-home work in April 2020 temporarily reduced global CO2 emissions by an estimated 17% compared to peak levels in 2019.
It is impossible to deny that the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shift in workplace priorities. This is true particularly regarding how we spend our time and energy. Flexibility is in high demand in the modern workforce, and employers have taken note. The freedom of at-home work can lead to improved organizational culture and reduced rates of burnout. Plus, employees who work primarily from home or in a hybrid setup typically have a lower environmental impact than their completely in-office counterparts.
A Greener Future
Increased energy efficiency and reduced waste are a win-win scenario for your business organization and the planet. While it is easy to believe one workplace can’t make a meaningful difference, it takes all hands on deck to steer the climate toward a better future. Minimizing waste becomes much easier when you become mindful of your daily habits.
A cleaner world is a global responsibility that crosses all industries. Reducing our carbon footprint should be a high priority at home, in the office, and beyond. If your business still needs to get on board, there is no better time than now to join the fight for the environment.