Workplaces have a significant impact on the environment. Here are ways your organization can become more environmentally friendly.
Here's what you need to know:
- Environmentally friendly companies can see benefits to both their bottom line and their long-term success
- Approximately 90% of consumers are willing to change the brands they support if it means they can support environmentally friendly businesses
- Ways for your organization to become more eco-friendly include allowing remote work, providing employees with public transit commuter benefits, making energy-efficient upgrades, and more
Workplaces have a significant impact on the environment. When people think of businesses impacting the environment, they often think of large corporations or manufacturing plants. However, small businesses and offices also impact the environment.
Sometimes that impact is negative, and others times, it’s positive. Companies that want to increase their positive environmental effects can put techniques in place that incentivize eco-friendly practices by their employees.
Sustainability, paperless communications, embracing natural light, and working from home are examples of eco-friendly practices that can also save the company energy and money.
Why is being eco-friendly in the workplace important?
Environmentally friendly companies can see benefits to both their bottom line and their long-term success. This is because consumers increasingly find it important to support a business that is known to be eco-friendly. Approximately 90% of consumers are willing to change the brands they support if it means they can support environmentally friendly businesses.
Consumers understand the greater environmental impact that businesses have when they take simple steps to create an eco-friendly environment. Adding environmentally friendly practices helps businesses more efficiently align with the beliefs of their customers.
How to start the journey to sustainability in the office
The 1st step on the journey to sustainability is for management to take stock of where they currently are in terms of being a green company. Before a company can begin taking measures to be more eco-friendly, it must know where it stands, environmentally speaking. Companies can begin by requesting a free business energy audit.
Almost every state has programs that are sponsored by utility companies to help companies gauge their level of energy efficiency and environmental impact. The audit could reveal the need to replace light bulbs, update insulation, and seal or replace leaky pipes. Any initiatives the state auditors recommend are often eligible for at least partial reimbursement by the state.
Upgrades such as these usually lower water and energy consumption which will lower utility bills. This is a great 1st step, especially for small businesses that want to implement a sustainability initiative.
Efforts to improve sustainability have long-term benefits because of the current consumer climate of supporting eco-friendly practices. Businesses can follow the energy audit by investing in eco-friendly products.
5 ways to increase sustainability within the office
Every business is different. That means that the steps one company takes to increase its eco-friendly standing won’t be the same as another company’s steps. There are several ideas for businesses to reduce their impact on the environment.
1. Allow remote work
The more people work online, the less they need to drive to a physical office. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more people have embraced a work from home lifestyle. This greatly decreased the amount of time commuting.
Less time commuting means less time on the road, and that equates to less carbon dioxide emissions into the air. This one small change can help reduce a company’s carbon footprint, which doesn’t even account for the reduction in light, heat, or water usage.
2. Provide employees with public transit commuter benefits
Public transportation (trains, buses, etc.) is the most environmentally friendly way to commute. Companies can encourage their employees to take advantage of public transportation whenever they do need to come to the office.
Small businesses can offer employees public transportation benefits as a way of helping the environment.
Many city transit agencies offer subsidized passes for public transportation to businesses. The HR department can reach out to the local public transit authority to learn what subsidies they provide, if any.
3. Switch to sustainable products
Paper products, cleaners, and even to-go containers for a restaurant can cause issues with the environment because of the way they are made.
Paper items, like toilet paper or reams of printer paper made from post- or pre-consumer waste, are a better choice for an office interested in sustainability. Office managers can help maintain a circular economy that reduces overall waste by shopping for recycled products.
Cleaning products that are made with natural ingredients are far less toxic than their commercially produced counterparts. Using green cleaners helps to keep toxins out of streams and decreases toxic waste material in the landfills.
4. Reduce, reuse, recycle
Environmentalists have been using this mantra for years. Businesses can embrace the concept first by reducing the use of wasteful products. For example, instead of using disposable coffee cups, businesses can encourage the use of personal, washable mugs. Instead of tossing a perfectly good box in the warehouse, find a way to reuse it.
Employees can learn to use both sides of the printer paper or, even better, go paperless whenever possible. Recycling is the next best thing to reducing or reusing. Many cities provide convenient recycle bins for companies which makes it much easier for companies to recycle.
5. Make energy-efficient upgrades
When a company works to be more energy efficient, it shrinks its carbon footprint, and it reduces the company’s energy bills. There are simple upgrades that can be made that don’t cost a fortune.
Some of the simplest upgrades for energy efficiency are the ones that people overlook the fastest — for example, replacing old light bulbs with LED bulbs.
Eliminate the energy lost by forgetting to turn off lights by installing motion sensors that automate the process. Better than that, take advantage of natural light by keeping windows open to the sunlight.
Another relatively simple fix is for companies to switch thermostats for smart thermostats. Those companies that use computers routinely can switch desktop computers with laptop computers to save energy.
Remember the human element of sustainability
When a company makes changes to increase environmental consciousness, employees should be included in the process. Sustainability is a team effort. Including input from employees helps to keep them on the same page as management, allowing them to feel as though they are a vital part of the company.
Employees who are happy and healthy are more likely to fully embrace a commitment to helping the environment. When the people are well, they will maintain more healthy habits. Mindfulness and healthy habits can help to sustain a productive, non-toxic environment.
Whether employees are volunteering for community clean-up projects together or simply striving to make the company environmentally friendlier, employees who feel engaged and heard are more likely to continue eco-friendly behaviors away from the workplace.
Becoming an eco-friendly company can be simple
Becoming an eco-friendly company can be simpler than a business realizes. Simple steps such as using more sustainable products or switching to more energy-efficient lightbulbs are efficient initial steps toward eco-friendliness. One of the easiest ways to encourage energy efficiency in the office is to not only allow but also encourage working remotely.
As a company reduces its carbon footprint, striving to include employees in the process will help build a more cohesive team that continues caring for the environment outside of the office. Companies should encourage mindfulness as well as such techniques such as recycling and using public transportation to and from work to help reduce personal carbon footprints as well as corporate ones.