Have you ever wanted to do something for the planet, but feel like anything you do is too small or insignificant to make an impact? You might be the queen (or king) of your green castle at home with compost bins and organic gardens, but what about at your office?
Now there’s a place that you can make a real impact. Imagine championing “going green” at your workplace and then getting recognized for the work that you did both internally and externally? Your company could be known for its environmentally-friendly office—all because of you.
Here are 12 ways to make your office a little greener
1. Consider your commuter footprint
Have a long commute? Try not to be one of those single-occupancy drivers that congest the road every day. Consider starting a carpooling group at your office or tap into your public transportation. Or better yet, why not bike to work or figure out a combination of transit and exercise?
2. Say no to plastic and disposables
Did you know that people use 500 billion plastic cups every year and 16 billion disposable cups? Plus, more than 480 billion plastic bottles were sold worldwide in 2016. And two million single-use bags are used every minute around the globe—adding up to one-trillion bags every year! Ah!
That’s ridiculous and totally avoidable. Plus, it takes a Starbucks to-go cup (or similar) 20 years to decompose and it’s not recyclable or compostable. Some plastics don’t decompose for a 1,000 years. Plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose. No one wants to be a part of that kind of waste, especially when it’s so easily avoidable with reusable mugs, cups, bottles and bags. It’s the little things that count.
3. Reduce, reuse, recycle
Similar to our point above, reduce your use of single-use plastics. Reuse what you already have until it’s simply unusable and then recycle it. Glass is great for offices because it can be used over and over again until it’s eventually recycled into something new. Office paper? Into the recycling bins—unless of course, you can use the opposite side for more notes first.
By weight, food waste is the largest waste item in American landfills. If your city has a compost service, get involved. If it doesn’t, why not be the company that champions for composting in your city? After all, America is the second most wasteful country in the world after Australia. Put all your food waste into the compost. Compostable to-go containers, into the compost. Coffee grinds, into the compost. Try to recycle everything else and limit what’s going into the garbage.
The same goes for your office washrooms. Do you use paper towels in the office? Convert to compostable and then get a compost bin for it. Your bathroom garbage can should be tiny.
5. Start a company garden
What better way to learn about where your food comes from and the value of local produce than by growing it yourself? This is a great way to attract helpful insects, clean the air around you and bond with your team. Look for a rooftop, street corner, balcony or community garden, get outside and enjoy foraging right from your own office garden. Next-best thing is to bring plants and herb gardens into your office to help clean the air.
6. Go for natural lighting
If you’re lucky enough to have ample natural light, try having the lights off when they’re not necessary. Or, for those darker offices, make the switch to eco-friendly, energy-saving light bulbs. Reducing your electricity use is great for your bill and the environment.
7. Breathe in the fresh air
Avoid air conditioning and unnatural heating systems that are costly, always-on and energy-sucks. Instead, open and close windows if you have them and opt for ceiling fans to move the fresh air around. It’s so much better for the environment, morale and everyone’s immune systems.
8. Reconsider your paper use
The great thing about computers and online group-sharing sites is that we don’t need to print paper like we used to. Right? Wrong. Look around you. What’s made of paper? From books to magazines, notepads and printouts, you’d be surprised at how much paper people use every day. In fact, world consumption of paper has grown 400 percent in the last 40 years. That’s 4 billion trees, or 35 percent of the total trees, cut around the world used in paper industries on every continent. Make little changes in your office to slow this stat.
9. Switch to natural cleaning products
What’s going down your office drains? Is it safe for unsuspecting marine life and good for the environment? Probably not. Perhaps you have a cleaner who comes to your office once a week or every few days. You have the power to change what cleaning products are used in your office. And, you’d be surprised at just how well white vinegar works as a cleaning agent.
10. Be mindful of water use
We’re facing a clean water crisis on the planet. While nearly 70 percent of the world is covered in water, on 2.5 percent of it is freshwater. Even then, only one percent is actually accessible for our skyrocketing population. Consider how often you run your office dishwasher (only when overflowing with dishes!) and for how long you run taps and so on.
11. Go easy on office swag
Branded swag makes for great gifts, but it also creates new (often plastic) products from scratch. And, unfortunately, they’re usually throw-away products that end up in the junk drawer or landfill unused. Remember the first of the three R’s of recycling: reduce.
12. Support local
More companies are providing meals for employees, which we think is awesome. But where are the meals coming from? How far did they have to travel and what kind of containers are they being served in? This point is very important to us, here at Foodee. We only partner with local, owner-operated businesses and encourage them to work with local farmers and have smaller footprints. Plus, our packaging is compostable and we try to use bicycle delivery systems wherever we can.
Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.