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by Elizabeth Raw | January 29, 2019

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Across the world, many businesses are beginning to take steps, both big and small, towards a greener future. Although this shift towards a greater environmental consciousness is a welcome one, there’s still much more to be done. And so, there’s no better time than now to help implement new eco-friendly policies at your company. Even making what seems like a minor change at your office can have a substantial impact on the planet in the long term. 

To give you a place to start, here are seven easy hacks you can help your company implement to become more sustainable. 

1. Establish a green team

If this is the first time you’ve thought about whether the company you work for is eco-friendly, then it’s likely others in your office haven’t considered this either. Encourage conversation around how you can do your bit to become more sustainable and build an eco-conscious team responsible for implementing and sustaining your initiatives. 

Creating an environmentally-friendly initiative for your employees and colleagues will set you off on the right track to becoming sustainable. Getting together and brainstorming creative ways to start making changes will be far more effective than one person trying to take on the challenge alone. 

Having processes in place and being able to monitor the impacts your initiatives are having on your office’s eco-friendliness will keep you and your colleagues motivated and help you to come up with more eco-friendly ways of working. Depending on the initiatives you’re going to put in place, the ways you monitor the success of them will be different. For example, you could track the expenditure of buying paper and monitoring whether you’re reducing how much is being used compared to previous months. Alternatively, you could create a departmental chart to see how often members of the team are cycling into work or utilizing a car sharing scheme. 

2. Embrace natural light 

In a busy office, blocking out sources of natural light with computer equipment can often be inevitable. However, if your office has windows and you’re lucky enough to have amazing views, then use them and declutter the surrounding area where possible. By letting the natural light pour in you’ll be cutting back your electricity use and saving money on utility bills—it’s a win-win. 

Natural light also has its benefits when it comes to increasing productivity and morale. So, as well as encouraging your move to becoming sustainable, you and your team are likely to become more productive and in high spirits as a result.   

3. Promote environmentally friendly methods of commuting

One of the best ways to promote an environmentally friendly method of commuting is to create a cycling or hiking challenge for you and your colleagues. If you’re all working towards the same goal of becoming fit enough to cycle a 20 mile route or hike through Yosemite, then you’ll need to get your practicing in—and what better time to start than on the commute to and from work? Not only would you be doing your bit to making a difference but you’re also creating a positive team bonding experience and providing a way for your company to raise money for a chosen charity where possible. 

4. Physically go green 

Office greenery is becoming an increasingly popular interior trend within the workplace—no wonder when you realize the benefits plants can have on the office and those within it. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing but they can also help reduce your office’s carbon emissions while naturally purifying the air, meaning that in the summer months you may not have to rely on the air conditioning units as much. 

Additionally, it’s worth bearing in mind that some types of plants are naturally more effective than others ones at helping you reduce carbon emissions. So when thinking about which ones to introduce into your environmentally friendly office design, make sure to consider bamboo palms, English ivy, or peace lilies. 

5. Use eco-friendly utensils at office parties 

In an ideal world, your office would have reusable plates, cutlery, and glasses. However, most workplaces don’t have the budget to kit out an entire office with multi-use utensils such as this. Fortunately, there are plenty of eco-friendly, single-use alternatives you can use. 

For example, if an office birthday celebration requires you to host a buffet, try using plates, cups, and cutlery that are eco-friendly, biodegradable, or recyclable. Additionally, have trash cans readily available that are specifically labeled as ‘recyclable’ or ‘general waste,’ so at the end of the party your friends and co-workers are encouraged to dispose of their items ethically. 

6. Go paperless

Given the digital age we now live in, it’s never been easier to become paperless—if anything, it’s actually now harder to be working solely from paper than it is an online alternative. With the multiple options of working from a communal online storage system such as Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive, you’re able to drastically reduce the amount of paper you need in the office by operating through them instead.  

Apart from the presentation handouts you might be printing regularly, look at ways in which you can reduce your use of the printer. If your office operates through laptops or tablets, think about how a presentation can be shared through the drive for your colleagues to access it that way, rather than being given a printed handout. 

7. Install motion activated lights 

How many times do you enter your office in the morning to find that the lights have been left on overnight from the previous day? A great solution to prevent wasted energy on your lighting is to install a motion activated light system so you don’t have to rely on colleagues remembering to switch them off. 

It might be that motion sensored lights aren’t a suitable option for your working office space. If this is the case, why not look to install them in less frequently used spaces such as conference or meeting rooms which are most likely to benefit from this type of installation? 

Elizabeth Raw works for R+R Packaging, a biodegradable and eco-friendly packaging provider for businesses within a wide variety of industries.

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