World Environment Day 2019 – 10 simple ways to be more green in the workplace
World Environment Day takes place on the 5th of June every year and is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action. Run by the United Nations, the awareness day has been established for over thirty years and continues to encourage us all to consider how we can do more to protect our environment.
Every year there is a theme that places focus on a specific environmental issue. This year, it’s all about air pollution.
It has been reported that 92% of people worldwide do not breathe clean air. Also, the World Health Organisation state that every year there are around 7 million premature deaths which are attributable to air pollution. This is equivalent to 800 people every hour, or 13 people every minute.
The main human sources of air pollution have been put into five categories: Agriculture, Household, Industry, Transport and Waste. As a direct result of our actions, we release a range of substances into the air that are harmful to human health.
So, what can we do?
Businesses have a duty to minimise their environmental impact and there are a number of small changes we can all make to do this. We’ve put together some simple tips to help your business become greener, based on three key principles: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
1 . Print less
Go paperless whenever possible. It can be very easy for employees to get into a bad habit of printing documents and notes when there really is no need. A rule of thumb to go by in order to reduce the amount of paper being used in the workplace is: if it can be viewed, used and shared online, then keep it online.
For example, employees can send meeting resources to individuals via email ahead of time, so they don’t need to bring physical copies on the day. At the same time, HR processes like holiday requests can be transferred to online platforms to eliminate any need for paper or printing.
If printing is unavoidable, make sure employees print double-sided to reduce the amount of paper being used.
2 . Switch off
Reduce the amount of electricity your business consumes by making sure all lights and appliances are switched off when they’re not being used. Motion sensor lights are especially handy as it means employees don’t need to remember to switch lights off every time they leave a room. Even if rooms are in use, see if it’s possible to opt for natural light instead to reduce unnecessary electricity.
To save further electricity, you can also encourage employees to turn off their laptops and computers at the end of the day rather than leaving them on ‘sleep mode’. A small change that will collectively make a big difference.
3 . Reduce travel
As we know, transport is a huge contributor to air pollution. Your employees obviously need to travel to get to work, but it may be possible for you to minimise this impact through car sharing.
By encouraging your employees to car share whenever possible, you will reduce the number of cars at your business and your overall carbon footprint. It will even save your employees money too. Win-win!
Over and above car sharing, allowing employees to work from home when possible provides an important opportunity for many businesses to reduce the impact of travel.
Technology now enables us to have “virtual meetings”, so consider whether it’s necessary for employees to travel for face-to-face meetings when a simple call, video meeting or web demo may achieve the same result?
4 . Scrap paper – don’t scrap it
It’s likely that your business will have a lot of scrap paper that can be put to good use before being thrown away (recycled, preferably). Why not keep this scrap paper and store it one specific place for employees to use? This way, if anyone needs some notepaper or wants to print something out, they can use the scrap paper first rather than going straight for fresh paper.
5 . Reusable bottles and coffee cups
Paper coffee cups and single-use plastics such as plastic bottles are harmful to the environment because they maintain a ‘use once and throw away’ culture which contributes to the huge amounts of waste we produce.
Reusable bottles and coffee cups are a fantastic way to combat this problem. As a business, you can do your bit by encouraging employees to switch to reusable water bottles and coffee cups. Maybe even provide your employees with their own to give them that extra motivation. You could even do what we did and create your very own branded bottles and cups – a great way to get everyone in the business conscious of their environmental impact.
6 . Second-hand kitchen supplies
To further reduce your business’ waste, fill your kitchen area with second-hand equipment and reusable items. Things like toasters, kettles and microwaves can easily be sourced second-hand – your employees may even have items they can donate rather than throwing them away. Kitchen equipment, and any equipment for that matter, that is in perfect working condition shouldn’t be thrown away if it can be used elsewhere.
Having a kitchen well-stocked with plenty of reusable plates, bowls, mugs and cutlery may seem insignificant, but it will prevent your employees from picking up single-use plastics to eat their food with at lunchtime. You could also provide employees with a supply of Tupperware so they can store their food in a more waste-conscious way.
7 . Recycle waste
While this is a pretty obvious point, there are ways to make recycling easier for your employees. For example, try and have lots of recycling bins dotted around your workplace so employees can put their waste in the correct bins with the least amount of effort. At the same time, it may also be beneficial to educate employees on what they can and cannot recycle, not only so they do it correctly, but so they can apply these habits to their home lives too.
If recycling isn’t possible for your business due to certain restrictions, try and keep hold of recyclable items and transport these to a local recycling point every week/two weeks. You will be able to find your nearest one on your local council’s website. While this requires a little more effort, it’ll make a huge impact on your business’ environmental footprint.
8 . Get more greenery
To make your business greener, why not add more greenery to your workplace? While this may seem an unauthentic way of being more environmental, having more plants around your business will actually help to offset some of your carbon emissions. They will also serve as a subtle reminder to your employees to be more mindful of the environment in their day-to-day lives.
If your business has some outdoor space, why not get employees involved in growing some vegetables and plants too?
9 . Trade unwanted items
Your employees may have unwanted items at home that could go to a better place, rather than being thrown away. For example, someone might want to get rid of an old sofa or fridge which could easily be of use to another employee. Why not set up a way in which employees could sell or pass their unwanted goods onto others in your business? This could be communicated through internal emails or posted on your employee platform.
Our advantage platform has a handy feature called My Market Place which acts as a virtual noticeboard whereby employees can post unwanted items, offering them to their colleagues for sale or free of charge. This is a great way for employees to reduce their waste, reuse items, and pick up a bargain along the way.
10 . Take action!
Hopefully our tips have inspired you to take further steps towards being a greener workplace. These are some small changes that can make a huge difference to your business’ environmental impact.
To find out more about World Environment Day, click here.