Going Green in the Office

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Wanting to be more environmentally responsible has changed how we live our lives today. The way we travel, the food we eat, and how we dispose of our rubbish is continuously being challenged in order to have as little lasting impact as possible.

This shouldn’t be limited to our personal lives though; making changes in the workplace can massively reduce waste and energy expenditure, and you’ll find that a greener workplace is a healthier and more productive one.

You don’t have to be the boss in order to see these changes happen either - empower yourself with the means to make a difference, and get your fellow team members involved as well.

Remember - small changes have the potential to make a big difference to our planet, so here are a few suggestions of how you can get your office to start thinking green. 

GREEN COMMUTING

For many people, the daily slog through traffic is unfortunately unavoidable, but you can ease a little bit of the strain by either organising a car pooling scheme with your colleagues, taking public transport, or jumping on a bike.

These will not only help with reduce emissions, but can potentially save you money as well.

Of course, the absolute best way to reduce the environmental effects of commuting is to work from home. It’s known as ‘Telecommuting’ and it’s becoming an increasingly popular idea. It’s said that employees can be just as (if not more) productive when working from home as they are in the office.

Modern innovations such as instant messaging, project management tools and video conferencing make telecommuting a truly viable option - even if it’s just a few days out of the month. This not only saves time and travel expenses, but it reduces air pollution as well (and as an added bonus, you get to work in your pyjamas!).

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GREEN COMPUTING

The fact is, a lot of power being consumed in the office is from equipment and machines, and while some of this is unavoidable, devices that are plugged in and left on standby mode account for a lot of wasted power. This is a huge and unnecessary expense, both financially and environmentally.

Start a ‘switching off’ campaign to ensure that at the end of the day, computers and other equipment (including the heating and cooling systems) are properly switched off so that they aren’t running in the evenings and over the weekend.

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WATCH THE WASTAGE

Offices are waste creating machines; everything from paper, food packaging, pens, bulbs and printer cartridges, to even whole computers are regularly thrown away, accumulating in a mountain of rubbish. Do your best to avoid waste by encouraging double sided printing and energy saving light bulbs, and also recycle as and when you can. Avoid colour printing as well as it tends to quickly burn through ink cartridges that then need replacing.

DON’T BE A PAPER PUSHER – GO DIGITAL

Paper in the office seems to be unavoidable, reduce waste by printing double sided to make it last longer, and shred waste paper to use as packaging, should your company ship anything out. When purchasing paper, try and go for recycled, but even recycled paper has used a great deal of energy, water and chemicals in order to get made, so really, the only truly green paper, is no paper at all.

It seems strange that in the digital age we still use paper in the office at all, especially as most of it gets absolutely minimal use before it ends up in the bin. Ask yourself if it’s necessary to print out information for colleagues when a simple email will suffice. Also, it’s helpful if meetings are focused around a slide show presentation rather than relying on handouts. The more you do online, the less you need paper.

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EAT GREEN

Making your own lunch at home to bring to work helps to reduce the amount of food packaging being used. Grabbing yourself a washable container to carry it in with is the greenest way to eat at work (and it’s healthier too, as you’ll be eating less pre-packaged processed food). If you’re an avid coffee drinker, bring your own mug in so that disposable cups aren’t being used all the time.

Should the office order food in, try and all go for the same choice at the same time, rather than having lots of separate deliveries turn up. And if you pop out to eat, be sure to walk or hop on a bike instead of driving.

image: http://live.hippobag.sequence.co.uk/media/387382/packed-lunch_500x445.jpg

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LITERALLY GO GREEN IN THE OFFICE

Fill the office with plants to really make it green! Plants absorb airborne pollutants, and convert them into fresh, clean air. Not only do plants emit oxygen and healthy ions into the air, they also make the place look nicer and more comfortable for everyone.

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ENCOURAGE OTHERS

Share these tips with your co-workers and get everybody involved. Look into arranging car pools or group biking commutes. Get everybody recycling and bringing in their own mug from home to help reduce wastage. Communicate anything for the noticeboard via email and encourage video conferencing instead of printing paper for your meetings. If everybody can get involved, then it will soon make a huge difference.

Why not share with us the ways that you  go green in the office? Get the conversation going by sending a Tweet @HIPPOBAG with suggestions of your own.