Are you doing what you can to go green at home? What about your workplace?
Going green at the workplace is good not only for the environment, but also for businesses and their employees.
For businesses, a major benefit is the overall reduction in costs. Sustainable practices often result in lower energy consumption, which in turn cut utility bills.
But aside from cost savings, going green has other benefits such as getting tax advantages and attracting new customers, to name a few. Depending on where they are located, businesses may be eligible for tax credits and other incentives in response to their reduced carbon footprint.
Also, customers are more discerning than ever – as part of their personal mission to support sustainability, they choose to patronize companies that share the same mindset.
For employees, a major benefit of going green is higher satisfaction. After all, going green is not just about cutting costs; it’s also about switching to healthier options and giving back to the community. The former makes employees feel well taken care of, while the latter makes them feel more involved in their organizations.
But going green is not the responsibility of management alone. Management at some businesses have become environmental leaders. At others, the initiative must come from the bottom up. As an employee, here are some things you can do to start or enhance a green movement in your workplace:
- Start a car pool – If some of your coworkers live in the same area as you do, then a car pool is a great idea. You get to save on gas (as well as effort on those days you don’t have to drive) and also strike a friendship with the people you work with, in case you haven’t yet. Work friendships make the job more enjoyable and meaningful.
- Ditch the elevators – Get some exercise when you take the stairs instead of the elevators. If you’re office is too high up, take the elevator halfway through and climb all the way up on foot. It’s not only good for the environment; it’s good for your heart as well when done regularly.
- Place a small plant on your desk – Indoor plants are natural air filters, so their presence can improve the quality of air you’re breathing in within closed walls. They can also improve your overall quality of life at the office according to a study by the American Psychological Association (APA).
- Add a green signature to your emails – Short, simple messages like “Think before you print” or “Save a tree, print only when necessary” can make your coworkers stop and consider the environment before printing out hard copies of documents. You may not be able to control their actions, but you can help influence their decisions and encourage them to go paperless.
- Use a smaller font for printouts – At a typical office, there are 350 pounds of wastepaper per employee in a year, which is still quite a high amount despite the popularity of the green movement. If you really have to print out documents, set the font to a smaller yet still readable font to save on space. Also, print on both sides of a sheet of paper to lower your resource consumption.
- Unplug computers that are not in use – Shutting down your computer isn’t enough to cut down energy usage. Appliances and devices still use up power when plugged in even when switched off. Make it a habit to unplug everything after turning them off to get rid of energy vampires. Do the same thing with the lights if you’re the last one out for the night.
- Switch to digital tools – Get rid of notebooks and Post-it notes when you use productivity apps that achieve the same results without paper. All you need is a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone. Add in a reliable internet connection and you can even remain accessible wherever you are, helping you increase your productivity and save on transportation costs for those out-of-town meetings.
- Choose reusable items – Pick refillable pens over disposable pens, plastic envelopes over manila envelopes, paper clips over staples, ceramic mugs over Styrofoam cups, silverware over plastic utensils, just to name a few examples. There’s less waste this way.
- Pack your own lunch – It’s easy to buy ready-made meals from fast food restaurants when you’re busy, but you’re doing yourself a favor when you take the time to buy organic ingredients and prepare your own meals. It’s healthy, sustainable, and affordable in the long run. You also get the nutrition you need to stay productive throughout the day.
- Skip the paper towels – Most office pantries have paper towels, but a better alternative is to bring and use your own dishcloth when wiping your utensils dry. Reach for the paper towels only for emergencies such as sudden spills.
- Get your coworkers involved – A green workplace is a product of not just one person’s effort. For your actions to have a real impact on your organization, take the initiative and start a simple project with your coworkers. For example, you can propose a group bike commute with the avid cyclists at your office or a potluck day for organic food with the foodies in your team.
Going green is a joint effort of the management and individual employees. If everyone works together toward this common goal, then the organization will be well on its way to sustainability.
Alexandrea Roman is a social media specialist and copywriter for Azeus Convene, a highly usable and efficient board and enterprise meeting solution for iPads, iPhones, Android and Windows devices, and Mac computers. For more information on Azeus Convene, visit http://www.azeusconvene.com.