Being eco-friendly at work is not only beneficial to the environment, but it can also improve your company's image, reduce costs, and create a healthier work environment. Although your company will have some standards in place to ensure that all staff are being eco-friendly during the workday, there are a few extra things you can be doing to work toward a more sustainable future.
Fortunately, being eco-friendly at work is not as difficult as a lot of people think. We only have one planet, and our actions today will guarantee that future generations will have a healthy future. That is why you should consider the following steps to become more eco-friendly in the workplace.
1. Follow The 3 R’s
The three r’s of the waste hierarchy include:
Reduce waste by not using unnecessary items. By using less and being more careful with your choices, you can prevent the amount of waste that piles up in local landfills or incinerators. This behaviour also helps to conserve natural resources like energy and water that are used in the waste disposal process.
Reuse items when possible. This is another aspect of waste management. Instead of chucking away things like single-use water bottles, try instead to re-fill them and bring them to work the next day. On a similar note, you can also book your mobile repair online instead of buying a brand-new phone if it breaks. Doing so reduces the demand for new products, which will minimise the waste needed during the manufacturing process.
Recycling involves converting waste materials into new products or raw materials. It is a process that transforms waste into valuable resources. By recycling materials such as paper, plastic, glass, and metal, we can conserve energy, reduce the extraction of virgin resources, and decrease pollution associated with extracting and processing raw materials. Recycling also helps divert waste from landfills and contributes to the circular economy by closing the loop of resource use.
2. Go Paperless
With today's technology, it's entirely feasible for most offices to go paperless. Use digital files and cloud storage instead of printing. If printing is necessary, print double-sided and recycle the paper afterwards.
Trying to go paperless is just another way of decreasing the amount of waste you produce. You can do this by swapping to digital forms of your normal documents. Things like online bank statements and other existing documents are easy in the digital age. You can also scan any physical documents you may want to need to keep and save them on a hard drive or in the cloud. There are many free and paid scanning apps available for smartphones that can create high-quality digital copies of paper documents.
3. Use Public Transport
Cutting down on commuting-related emissions can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. Try and encourage your fellow employees to use public forms of transport or carpool with you to help reduce carbon emissions.
Using public transport is cheaper than owning and maintaining your car. It eliminates costs related to fuel, parking, vehicle maintenance, and insurance. Public transport significantly reduces the overall carbon footprint by accommodating more passengers in a single vehicle. As a result, it reduces the number of cars on the road and consequently the amount of pollution.
4. Buy Eco-Friendly Products
Sometimes you will be tasked with providing your office supplies when t work. If this is the case, try and purchase office supplies made from recycled materials or sustainable resources. This includes everything from paper and pens to furniture and computers.
Examples of eco-friendly office supplies include:
- Recycled printer paper
- Sticky notes
They are made from post-consumer waste and reduce the demand for virgin tree pulp. You can also take your efforts one step further by investing in plantable or biodegradable pens. These are pens made from biodegradable materials, such as corn plastic or recycled paper, that can decompose in a compost pile.
5. Mindful Eating
Mindful eating can be achieved by promoting a culture of bringing your lunch in reusable containers. If there is a canteen at your workplace, try to also encourage the use of reusable cutlery, plates, and bowls. You can also promote vegetarian/vegan meals to reduce the impact of meat consumption.
Mindful eating involves paying attention to your food in a holistic way. This may include understanding where the food comes from and how it is made. You should also look for any nutritional benefits, and how they affect your body. Mindful eating promotes healthier eating habits, can help with weight management, and may improve mental health by reducing stress and improving self-esteem.
Eco-friendly eating habits also help conserve resources and reduce negative environmental impact. This involves making choices such as eating locally grown, organic, and plant-based foods, reducing meat consumption, and minimising food waste. All these practices contribute toward:
- Reduced greenhouse gas emissions
- Less deforestation
- Improved soil health
- Preservation of biodiversity.
6. Work From Home
If feasible for your company, try to work from home a few days a week. This can significantly reduce energy usage and commuting emissions.
When people work from home, they eliminate the need for daily commuting. This means that there are fewer cars on the road, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. It also means that your office is causing less pollution. Office buildings will use large amounts of energy for things like lighting, heating, and cooling. This is particularly true of skyscrapers or large complexes. If people work from home, they typically use less energy, especially when considering per capita energy consumption.
Additionally, workers at home have more control over their environment and can choose to use energy more efficiently (e.g., using natural light instead of artificial light). If there is one positive that can be taken from the pandemic it is that we now know how good it is for the environment for more people to work from home. Therefore, you should try to achieve this whenever possible.
BONUS #7. Use Second-hand Materials
In our ongoing quest to reduce our environmental impact, there is one area that often goes – and that is the use of second-hand work materials. By embracing this practice, individuals and businesses can make a significant contribution to sustainability.
Opting for second-hand work materials, such as office furniture, electronics, or machinery, reduces the demand for new production. It is similar to recycling, only now you have a dedicated use for these items. By extending the lifespan of existing items, you can conserve valuable resources like timber, minerals, and energy.
Using second-hand work materials is a simple yet effective way to embrace eco-friendly practices, as it means there is less waste and no need to keep remaking new materials.
Being eco-friendly at work is normally a responsibility that falls on your manager’s head. Try taking these extra steps in your day, and you can further your positive impact on the environment.
By conserving resources, promoting a circular economy, and reducing costs, individuals and businesses can make a significant positive impact on the environment through their actions at work. Let's prioritise sustainability and choose second-hand whenever possible, ensuring a greener future for generations to come.