The modern workplace is going green (and we don’t mean stocking up on desk succulents). As employees become more environmentally conscious, it’s important that their workplace share their values and adopt eco-friendly policies. But this doesn’t have to be overwhelming or costly. There are countless changes you can implement in your office today to make a difference, and the age-old saying still rings true: reduce, reuse, recycle.
Focus on reducing workplace waste to minimize your environmental impact. This could be minimizing everyday waste such as trash, or more complex waste like unused furniture. Take a look at how much you accumulate on a daily basis, then consider the following tips to cut back.
- Go digital! Encourage employees to communicate and collaborate by storing and sharing digital files, rather than printing endless copies of work. If you do need to print, print double-sided to reduce the amount of paper used. Stick a sign on your printer as a friendly reminder.
- When catering, pay close attention to the number of people who partake vs. the total number of employees. Keeping track will allow you to better estimate how much food to order and prevent food waste. If you still find that there’s a considerable amount of leftovers after team meals, consider food donation options in your city like New York’s Rescuing Leftover Cuisine.
- Provide water coolers in the office or invest in a modern, smart water cooler like a Bevi. Pair these with reusable glassware to discourage employees from buying plastic water bottles and reduce the need to order canned drinks like flavored seltzer.
- Give up on coffee pods. While they might be beloved for their convenience, these single-use capsules create unnecessary waste. Instead, buy coffee in bulk that you can brew for your employees and/or offer cold brew on tap. For the tea drinkers, choose a brand that offers eco-packaging like biodegradable filter-paper tea bags.
- Moving offices? Consider selling unwanted furniture to the new tenant. If you can’t sell your office furniture, there are other options. Hire a junk removal vendor who can recycle or repurpose the furniture, or try donating! Look for nonprofit organizations in your area who will accept used furniture.
Treat your workplace like a home away from home, and stock it just as well. Provide plenty of reusable products in your office kitchen so that your employees don’t end up relying on disposable or plastic alternatives. Some basic necessities include: glasses, mugs, plates, bowls, and cutlery. Managed by Q even gave our employees branded, reusable straws so that we could stop purchasing the plastic variety. When you order food, ask the vendor not to include any unnecessary plastic or paper products and encourage your employees to use (and wash) these dishes already available to them.
You can also reuse old office supplies. Rather than tossing unwanted items like folders, notebooks, staplers, or pencil holders, create a space in your office for employees to return what they no longer use. Their colleagues are then welcome to put the items to work, allowing you to save on spending.
It’s important that employees know how and where to recycle, as a single contaminated product can prevent a whole batch from being recycled properly. So make office recycling easy with good signage. Use clear and creative imagery to illustrate the difference between trash, recycling (paper, bottles, or cans), and compost. You can even consider collecting e-waste, such as batteries, printer ink cartridges, cables, and other electronic items.
Create designated recycling stations in your office to better help employees learn how to sort their waste. Place your bins in areas where people typically congregate the most, such as by the kitchen or outside meeting areas like conference rooms. No one will throw a plastic water bottle in the trash bin under the desk again!
Create a committee at the office and schedule regular times to meet. You can rely on this green team to monitor the sustainable practices in your workplace, keep up with trends and new research, plan environmentally-friendly events, and find new ways to get the whole office involved with regular activities or competitions like these:
- Throw bake sales or hold raffles to raise money for reputable nonprofits.
- Coordinate an earth-focused volunteer day, and recruit your colleagues to pick up trash or plant trees to make your community a little greener.
- Dare the office to go totally plastic free, or see who can accumulate the least amount of trash in one week.
- Work with your janitorial team to conduct a waste audit, then set a goal for the company to cut back. Don’t forget to incentivize them with a fun reward if you meet your goal.
The possibilities for making environmental consciousness an integral part of your workplace culture are endless!