Waste is expensive. It costs UK businesses over £23 billion per year according to sustainability agency WRAP. Going green is good business – not only will it boost your bottom line, it makes for a healthier, more productive workforce and can even help you win new business. And the good news is that it needn’t cost the earth.
It only takes a few simple steps to reduce your overheads through greater operational efficiency, reduced power consumption and reduced waste. Of course, showing your community, your clients, business partners and regulatory agencies that you’re environmentally responsible won’t hurt your public image either. So read on and see how you can enjoy a leaner, greener office.
1. Get everybody involved
Start by telling your team that you want to be more environmentally friendly, and invite their suggestions about how you can do it. It’ll make everyone feel involved, and you’ll see positive results a lot more quickly and easily if they’re actively engaged from the beginning.
2. Set out your green goals
Set yourself realistic targets – whether it’s reducing paper waste, business travel or energy bills, increasing recycling or starting a carpool – and make sure you celebrate when you reach them! Try to record all the savings you make, and put some of that money towards social events or treats for the team to encourage everyone to reduce, reuse and recycle.
3. Use environmentally friendly office products
Offices go through an enormous amount of stationery supplies every day. So look for recycled paper with a high level of post-consumer waste – just one tonne of recycled paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil and one tonne of carbon equivalent. Also consider recycled pens which reuse materials to reduce oil consumption and landfill waste.
4. Reduce your paper usage
A paperless office uses less resources, needs less storage space and saves you money, so try to use emails and PDF documents where you can. If you must print, then use both sides and print presentation slides 2-up per page. You can cut waste by using whiteboards or monitors instead of flipchart pads, and memory sticks or flash drives to share large documents.
5. Recycle your waste properly
UK Government figures estimate that over 80 tonnes of printing and writing paper and five billion drinks cans are thrown away every year. You can help ensure this is recycled rather than sent to landfill by putting separate recycle bins for paper, plastics and aluminium drinking cans in your office and outside to enable easy collection and recycling.
6. Use eco-friendly cleaning products
The water from your sinks, toilets and dishwashers can contain chemicals from cleaning agents. The phosphates in some detergents contribute to algae in our rivers, lakes and seas which can be dangerous to aquatic life. Seeking out eco-friendly cleaning products that use fewer chemicals is not only better for you and your workforce – it also helps preserve our wildlife.
7. Reduce your energy usage
A photocopier left on overnight can use enough energy to make 1,500 copies, so switch everything OFF before going home. Try to find energy efficient printers and photocopiers – or get a combi machine to halve your outlay and your power consumption. Also switching to CFL bulbs uses 80% less power and lasts 10 times longer – there’s a bright idea.
8. Reduce business travel
Virtual meetings, conference calls and video conferencing are an easy way to save on travel expenses and reduce your carbon footprint. Being able to hold meetings from your desk also gives you greater flexibility for timings and scheduling, and causes less disruption to work – and the savings will quickly offset the cost of extras such as webcams and headsets.
9. Choose eco-friendly suppliers
Choose local suppliers who share your green values to reduce your environmental impact and benefit the local economy. Shorter, faster delivery trips from nearby suppliers mean you can operate more flexibly with less of your capital tied up in stock and reduce your carbon footprint – which is good for you, your community and your corporate social responsibility.
10. Travel green
The last consideration is your commute. Encouraging your staff to carpool or use public transport is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, your travel costs and potentially your stress levels. Cycling is even better, achieving all of the above with the added benefit of regular exercise, which is also great for team health, morale and concentration. And if your business signs up to the Government’s Cycle to Work Scheme your employees can save up to 42% off the price of a new bike.
Image: Greener Office via Shutterstock