Making your work environment a little greener

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You’ve bossed it on remembering your produce bags. You use your reusable coffee cup religiously, and you cannot remember the last time you bought a plastic bottle of water. Basically, you’ve got your personal sustainability down. It is now time, my friends to take that wonderful green gaze, and turn it towards your work environment.

For everyone, this environment will be different. For some of you, it will be an office, for others it might be a restaurant or a hotel.  Wherever you work (unless it is at Greenpeace) there are always ways to make your work environment a bit more sustainable, and guess what? This will probably have a pretty big impact. Here are some ideas to get your work to move towards the green LED light.

Set up a community. Firstly, you shouldn’t have to do this on your own. There is most probably at least one other person at your work that feels as passionately as you do. You can meet once a week, set up a task force and  share ideas before approaching your manager. It could be a great way to make new friends and shows great initiative (something all interviewers love to ask you).

Start looking at the waste products from your work. This could be anything from leftover food from the canteen, old samples, takeout boxes. Anything you see that is being thrown away, look for an alternative. Can leftovers be donated? Can you offer to take home leftover food from work to prevent food waste? Imagine every possible way to prevent waste, or make the whole business a bit more circular.

Start looking at where you can save the business money. Most businesses will love the idea of save money, and this will usually be the way to get your management to do something. If you can think of a solution to get your work that is more environmentally friendly and saves the company money, what have they got to argue with? Get your numbers in order, even if it’s an estimate. For instance, you pay 15p per takeaway cup wholesale. You ask people to bring their own with a reduction of 10p per coffee. Everybody is a winner.

Look at the energy consumption.  Are lights being switched off when no one is in the building? Monitors? laptops? Is the company burning pointless energy and money? Point it out.  Is the air conditioning on for much longer than it needs to be? Can coworkers put on a jumper before cranking the thermostat? Maybe even a sign or a conversation with the cleaners to remember to switch off all the lights at the end of the day/night can make a huge difference and save the company a significant amount.

Look at the single-use plastics. How can you reduce the plastics? Maybe you work in a bar and you can propose getting rid of plastic straws and cups or swapping them for paper ones. Maybe the restaurant you work in could swap from plastic boxes to card, or the product your company sells comes in way too much packaging that can easily be reduced.  Get creative, every idea is worth exploring.

Unnecessary flights. Business people love to fly. Especially transatlantic. It feels almost like a free holiday. Aviation is costing the planet so much. Whilst face to face meetings are better, there are so many instances where the flight is just not needed. There is such great video conference technology out there. And guess what? This also saves SO much money. Speak to your senior about putting a stricter limit on flights, and especially discuss the numbers. Look into alternative ways of travelling, trains can sometimes be the faster option.

Get your waste management in good order. When I worked at one makeup company in London, there was no recycling at all. I spoke to the manager and as long as I took on the project of ordering bins and the logistics, he was more than happy to oblige. At my current work we have no desk bins (hello 2000 less plastic bags PER DAY) and only one set of bigger bins per floor. It is fantastic. 

Remember, if no one broaches the subject then it is likely things will stay as they are. You might be surprised at how many people are enthused by making their work a little more green, climate change is something that is affecting us all.

How well is your company doing in terms of sustainability? I would love to hear if you have some ideas to share about making the workplace a little greener.

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