How can we encourage sustainability in our workplace? Considering that we spend about a fifth of our lifetime at work, it's worthwhile considering how we can have a planet-strong impact on our colleagues and office space. Luckily, we have lots of great ideas to get you started - here are our top tips for a more conscious and happy workplace.
1. Manage waste effectively
If your office doesn't already have a recycling bin, it's time to introduce one! Train your teammates to separate waste into paper, plastic/glass recyclables and even food scraps. This will help to reduce the amount of waste from your office ending up in landfill.
With food scraps, you can have a sealable container in your office kitchen to keep them in. If anyone in the office has a compost bin, this can be a great source of "fuel"!
2. Cut back on excess consumption
If your office has a coffee pod machine, we suggest checking out our corporate service, or investing in reusable capsules (we recommend our SealPod bulk buy / corporate packs, or Bluecup capsules) to save on waste and money. If your colleagues tend to pop out for a takeaway coffee, encourage them to invest in a reusable cup in order to cut down on disposables.
Be sure to have a handy stash of reusable containers and cutlery in the office kitchen so that you don't have to rely on single-use plastics. If you already have a heap of junk clogging up your workspace, consider taking the KonMari approach to cleaning up and cutting back, which forces you to concentrate on what actually brings you joy.
3. Only use your car as a last resort
Walk, ride or catch public transport to work to save on both petrol and carbon emissions. If you have an alternative to cars, use it.
4. Switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products
Instead of using commercial cleaners, consider making your own product to clean your workspace, such as bi-carb soda and vinegar.
5. Bring nature indoors
Did you know that having plants in your indoor environment can help clean the air and improve your mood? If you thought that there was no room for a slice of nature in your office, then think again! Plants make an awesome decoration for any desk, especially easy-to-grow succulents.
6. Share the love
The sharing economy is a great initiative to get involved in. After all, sharing is caring! Have some extra lemons from your tree at home? Share with your workmates! Cooked up an awesome batch of brownies? Share them over coffee with your desk-neighbour!
The same can go for transport: set up a carpool or walking team to get everyone working together to reduce your collective carbon footprint.
7. Power down
Do you use a microwave at work? Did you know that these little guys consume most of their electricity when they're simply sitting in the kitchen doing nothing? An Appliance Standards Awareness Project study found that the typical microwave is only used about 70 hours a year. During the other 99% of the time, or 8,690 hours, it burns as much as 35 kilowatt hours in "vampire power" to illuminate the clock and keep electronic push button controls in standby mode. Whenever it is not in use, make sure to turn your microwave off at the switch.
In the same fashion, switch off computers, lights, printers etc. at the end of the working day to conserve power. Your boss will love the reduction in electricity costs!
Even better, if your idea could potentially save money in the workplace (eg. swapping interstate meetings for video conferencing), your supervisors will be impressed!
8. BYO lunch
Not only will this save you a considerable amount of money, but packing your lunch will also help to get you eating healthier. Take your lunch to work in reusable containers such as jars and tins.
9. Get the conversation started
Start a conversation with your colleagues and/or management about sustainability. If you have ideas for making your workplace planet-strong, let your manager know! Many companies now are becoming more aware of how sustainability is important, not only for the greater good, but also for attracting socially-engaged customers. By making these changes, you can help to inspire and encourage others to take a step towards a low-carbon life.
Put a poster up in the bathroom to remind your workmates not to flush wet wipes. Host a Plastic Free Morning Tea to challenge your colleagues to bring a plastic-free share plate. Above all, make sure to promote your environmental values in a positive way so that others will feel motivated to join you.