10 Tips for turning your office green

September 24, 2021
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You don’t have to operate a huge global industrial giant to adopt eco-friendly business practices. Going green can and often does help profitability, but as importantly it also reflects your values as a business, positively impacts employee health, morale and productivity, and can provide helpful publicity too.

As this is what Two Shoes is all about, here are our eco friendly office ideas to show how easy it is to improve your green credentials:

1. Get recycling

Setting up recycling bins is your number one priority! A staggering statistic: almost 80% of UK businesses don’t recycle. With landfill tax to pay as well, it’s not only damaging the environment but also an expensive way to dispose of waste. Employees are much more likely to get involved if the recycling stations and food bins are easily accessible and clearly marked. In the kitchen and breakout areas, provide branded coffee mugs, organic/fair-trade tea, coffee, sweeteners and fresh fruit, and encourage a washing-up rota if required as well as avoiding single-use plastics. Staff will quickly get used to it!

2. Avoiding screensavers and standby

The average UK office typically wastes £6,000 annually by leaving equipment on at weekends and holidays. Think about it – turning your PC or laptop off during a lunch break or meeting can save at least 5 hours’ worth of energy weekly. This may not sound much, but it’s a 14% reduction in energy use based on a standard 35-hour week.

Light bulbs are energy-sappers too – a standard halogen bulb left on overnight consumes approximately a bucket’s worth of coal. Replace with LED light bulbs (using up to 90% less energy) – ideally on motion sensors. And maximise light within your office space by painting the walls with light colours: brighter, cleaner and improving mental health.

3. Paper, paper everywhere

Printer paper is the largest office waste item. Whilst ‘paper-free’ is often unviable, recycled print paper can lessen the impact. Paper is also widely recycled – but it’s worth stocking eco-friendly paper. A recycling symbol doesn’t guarantee the stock has been sustainably sourced: check the supplier’s green credentials online before purchasing, or look out for the FSC label (ideally 100%, or FSC recycled). Lastly, set printers to print automatically on both sides, in monotone and use smaller fonts. It’s easy to do, good for the environment – and saves your business money.

4. Office equipment: friend or foe

So much unnecessary waste! Effective office management should include environmental initiatives as part of the day-to-day business.

Can your office stationary and supplies be recycled? Are they made from recycled materials? Are the cleaning products used in your office eco-friendly?  Can your office use cloth towels and hand dryers instead of disposable paper towels? Make sure your office management consider these options.

Save on waste packaging and unit costs by purchasing office supplies and equipment in bulk.  If you use packaging as an element of your business, is it recyclable and do you use it efficiently? Look for the greenest option available on all equipment replacements or upgrades. A high green energy rating will help indicate potential savings. Lastly, think about the companies you work with – both online and offline. Are they eco-friendly – especially the providers of your office supplies?

5. Office or home?

Lockdown has opened up the work-from-home option, which can be beneficial to both employers and their staff. It’s viewed as an attractive ‘perk’ and a strong incentive to work harder. According to Forbes, “as long as the job can be performed from home, most people are more productive”, with fewer sick days and reduced distractions from co-workers. The average daily commute for UK workers is almost an hour each way, so working from home frees up time, saves on transport costs, cuts carbon emissions, improves air quality and saves on office space.  However, if your business requires employees in the office, encourage public transport, cycling or walking.

6. Water wastage

Another saving that’s easily delivered: office toilets and leaky taps are the biggest water wasters. Fix leaks as and when they appear, and consider low-flow toilets and faucet aerators for all your taps. It will save you money and hassle!

7. Turn down that thermostat!

Getting the temperature right can boost job satisfaction, productivity and collaboration. Getting it wrong can make workers slow or even sick. The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers puts the ideal temperature at 20oC, although slightly lower can actually help employees keep alert, boost productivity and save on energy bills.

8. Switching energy suppliers

There are plenty of competitive green energy tariffs available to businesses of all sizes. Whilst the National Grid supplies a mix of renewable and non-renewable, your payments will be channelled into renewable energy projects, increasing the proportion of green electricity available.

9. Going green together

Going green works best when office managers lead by example. Be the first to recycle or bring food from home. This is as important as introducing the recycling bins, waste and energy reduction. Put the savings towards office lunches or events, and highlight that the employees’ green efforts have delivered these. You can even publicise these as part of your company’s PR.

10. and lastly, don’t forget to actually add some greenery

The simplest fix!! Desk plants improve the aesthetic appearance and help towards oxygenating your office, but they also absorb air pollutants and are proven to increase employee satisfaction. Low maintenance and succulent plant varieties are best.

Do you have any great ideas or tips to be more environmentally friendly at work? If so, why not comment below. 

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Two Shoes Creative

Two Shoes Creative are a brand design and marketing agency. They are all about helping ethical and sustainable businesses evolve and expand.
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