As you develop your company’s plans and business goals for the new year, it is also good idea to think about how you can incorporate some small changes in your business to make it more sustainable. These environmentally-friendly adjustments can save your business money in the long run, while also boosting your employees’ productivity, health, and morale.
Recycling is so important, yet many of your employees and customers may not be fully aware of all that can be recycled, or possibly avoid it as out laziness or inconvenience. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), up to 90% of office waste can be recycled. Promote recycling in your office, store, or place of business by putting recycling bins near printers, in the kitchen or break room, and alongside regular trash cans that customers may use, clearly marked for each type of recyclable including paper, plastic, glass, and metal. A full list of everything that can be recycled can be found here. Send out an email or post a sign in your office to educate your staff on recycling best practices. Side note: Your toner and ink cartridges can also be recycled. Office Depot even gives you rewards for bringing in your empty toner and ink cartridges! It is also a good idea to encourage employees how to reduce and reuse. Printing or jotting down notes using both sides of the paper and using refillable pens are a couple of ways this can be done.
- Go Paperless
While it’s not realistic to completely eliminate using paper in any business, there are many ways to lessen the use of it significantly. At meetings, display agendas on whiteboards instead of printing out a copy for each person. Same goes with PowerPoint presentations which can be displayed on screen, so handouts may not be necessary. Before you print or have something printed, think: Could this be done digitally?
- Use Thermoses, Reusable Plates, and Utensils
Think of all the cups of coffee or bottled water your staff drinks on a daily basis and all the waste that comes along with it. It all could be eliminated with reusable bottles and tumblers. For a small investment, why not gift your employees their own mug or thermos, maybe one that has your company logo printed on it? (This would be a great inclusion as part of an onboarding welcome bag!) If your office doesn’t already use a water cooler, consider investing in one. Paper plates and plastic utensils, which are used daily by employees, can easily be swapped out with reusable ones which would certainly cut down on even more waste, and not to mention, save your business lots of money over time.
- Turn Off Lights and Computers
Electronic devices consume a ton of energy, even when they’re not in use. Encourage employees to put computers in sleep mode when they’re out to lunch or in meetings, and completely turned off when they leave for the day. Same goes for lights, which should always be turned off if they are leaving their desks for more than a few minutes. Additionally, printers and photocopiers should always be shut down at night.
- Incorporate Green Initiatives with Your Customers
Did you know that Starbucks gives a discount to customers who bring their own mugs? Your business can follow Starbucks’ example by offering incentives and discounts for your own customers who use reusable bags (like Whole Foods), choose emailed receipts instead of paper ones, forgo using straws, and more. Many large corporations, such as Disney, American Airlines, and Hyatt – and of course, Starbucks – are all eliminating single-use straws at their establishments over the next year, and hopefully more will follow. Americans use millions of disposable straws each day, so this is a major step in the right direction to reduce plastic waste. Think about how you can include your customers in your company’s green efforts.
- Add Plants
Bring nature indoors by displaying plants around the office. Aesthetically, plants are pretty to look at and make the office setting feel warmer and less sterile. More importantly, plants produce more oxygen, absorb pollutants, and promote productivity. It’s a fact that plants in our working environment can improve our mental and physical health. Some of the best indoor plants for air-filtering include Boston Fern, English Ivy, and Golden Pothos.
- Allow Telecommuting and Cut Back on Travel
Allowing employees to work from home, whether one day a week or one day a month, can significantly cut down on pollution, and increase your staff’s time availability. When employees do have to commute to the office, encourage carpooling, walking, biking or using public transportation. Re-think if business trips that require air travel are necessary. Nowadays, many conferences are live streamed, and client meetings can be just as effective via a video call, instead of meeting in-person.
- Serve Healthy Snacks
If you provide your staff with snacks and beverages, stock up on healthy choices. Eliminate sugary drinks and sodas, and encourage more intake from the office water cooler. To reduce waste and help improve eating habits opt to not offer processed snacks that come in a wrapper, such as chips and candy. Think about instead having a bowl filled with whatever fruits are in season, a prepared veggie and dip platter, and other healthy food options. Not to mention – consuming too much sugar drains energy, which can decrease workplace productivity.
BONUS TIP: Plan a company beach or park cleanup! There are many organizations that hold clean up events throughout the year that you can register with.
These small changes can have a significant impact on reducing your company’s carbon footprint, while also improving the health and morale of your employees. Think about adding initiatives to become more green to your business goals for the new year.