Given the growing number of consumers who care about sustainability, it’s no wonder that many businesses are at least making an effort to go green. Not only can your actions help to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change, but you can also prove to customers that you care about the planet — and appeal to their inclinations in the process. What’s more, creating a more eco-friendly workplace doesn’t have to translate to a large sacrifice. In many cases, it can allow you to save some money without ever noticing a real difference during the workday. In others, it can bring your team together and make your business that much more profitable. But how exactly should you get started? Here are some basic tips that will make your work environment — and the environment at-large — a little greener by 2020.
Go Paperless When Possible
Did you know that China, Japan, and the United States account for 50% of the world’s total paper production? Although we depend largely on our technological devices, many offices still use a lot of paper in unnecessary ways. You might already be using shared drives and store files in the cloud, but if you’re printing out packets for a meeting or hanging memos up in the break room, you’re still not as eco-friendly as you could be. What’s more, you’re probably spending a lot on office supplies like paper, ink, paperclips, and staples. Encourage employees to think before printing and consider donating at least some of your printers and copiers to organizations in need. If you haven’t already, adopt digital sharing and storage measures that will allow you to cut down on paper usage overall. This minimal change might have less of an impact on your day than you might think; you’ll just need to create new habits to ensure everyone’s on the same (virtual) page.
Conserve Your Energy
Offices come with a lot of necessary overhead. Keeping the lights and the HVAC system running can translate to high costs for business owners. But you can mitigate those costs and reduce unnecessary waste by being smarter about how you use your energy. Switching to LED bulbs and unplugging lights, small appliances, and computers at the end of the day can do wonders for your energy expenditures. You’ll also want to pay close attention to the thermostat. While studies have found that productivity levels are highest when temperatures average 71.6 degrees, that’s a high level to reach during the winter. Be willing to compromise a bit with temperature settings and consider installing a smart thermostat to ensure that the building isn’t being heated or cooled after work is done for the day. Having employees bring in a sweater or a portable, handheld fan may be a sacrifice they’re willing to make to have a greener office in the long run.
Offer Remote Work Options
Telecommuting is becoming a more popular option for businesses across the country. Employees enjoy the flexibility of being able to work from home or from a nearby coffee shop, while employers benefit from decreased overhead. Workers are more productive, fewer work days are missed, and everyone obtains a more balanced life as a result. It’s also an excellent way to support green initiatives. Not only can you keep heating and electricity needs to a minimum with fewer people in the office on a given day, but you can also have a direct impact on emission reduction from commuting vehicles. In other words, you can brag about your sustainability and your employee perks — both of which may make you one of the top employers to beat in your area.
Eliminate Single Use Items
During company events, picking up paper plates and plastic utensils is an easy way to ensure everyone can join in. But this practice is incredibly wasteful, which puts a damper on the fun. Instead, invest in some communal mugs, cups, plates, and cutlery and recommend that employees bring some of these items in, too. Since Americans produce 4.4 pounds of trash every single day, eliminating at least some of these disposable items will cut down on your company’s waste (and need for trash collection!). If you really want to go the extra mile, float around the idea of starting a composting program. At the very least, make an effort to purchase disposable items (like coffee filters) that are made from recycled materials and ensure that your own recyclables don’t end up in landfills.
If it seems like these changes are too small to make a difference, remember that there are nearly 28 million small businesses in the U.S. alone. By making minimal adjustments, you can be part of a bigger impact and show your community how serious you are about protecting the planet. With your help, we can make the earth a little bit greener by the time the new year rolls around.