By Scott Hawthorn from SkipsAndBins.com
After two whole years of using the dining table as a desk, many of us are finally making a return to the office. In fact, office occupancy in the capital recently hit the highest rate since the working from home order was put in place in 2020, at 42% (FMJ). While this is great news for company culture and team bonding, it may have a negative impact on the environment.
Although working remotely isn’t always as eco-friendly as it is believed to be, it does have the potential to cut personal emissions by an impressive 80% (Forbes). However, this doesn’t mean that working from the office has to be the least sustainable option. If your business makes a few green changes, you and the team can become more eco-friendly in no time. To give you some inspiration, SkipsAndBins.com are here to share five of the most fun and unique ways you can make your office greener.
Add stickers to your bins
While a lot of offices have become paperless for the environment, many of us find that it’s sometimes essential to print important documents out, which can lead to a lot of paper waste. The good news is that this can easily be recycled, but you may sometimes find that employees need a little reminder to do so.
In order to prompt staff to use the recycling bin when necessary, add a few stickers to your bins. As well as clearly marking the general waste and recycling bins, you can also add a list of common items which go in each bin. Make sure to check your local recycling to find out which items can and can’t be recycled. You can even be informative and add a stat to the bin to grab employees attention and encourage them to do the right thing, such as the fact that paper accounts for 26% of the total waste at landfills (The World Counts).
Opt for a casual dress code
If your workplace has a formal dress code in place, this may actually be worsening your environmental impact. Because while dressing in a full suit and tie each day may make the office seem more professional, cleaning this outfit can be causing more environmental damage.
Dry cleaning can be incredibly harmful for the environment. The process uses a number of harmful chemicals and solvents which can contaminate water supplies and make the water toxic for local wildlife (Save Your Wardrobe). So, use this service less and encourage employees to do the same by ditching the formalwear. As well as being better for the environment, employees will thank you after spending a good chunk of the past two years working in loungewear!
Go green with greenery
One of the best ways you can reduce the carbon footprint of your office is by literally going green and introducing a selection of indoor plants to the office. Indoor plants can improve the environment inside the office by cleaning the air (Healthline). On top of this, decorating the office with indoor plants is much more sustainable than using bouquets, as flowers last nowhere near as long as plants and they come in a lot of unrecyclable packaging. Plus, the carbon emissions which come from cut-flower production can be up to a staggering 3kg of CO2 per flower (Tree-Nation)!
A great way to introduce more plants to the office is by gifting your employees with an indoor plant each. If you’ve got the time and you’d like to make it even more personalised, you can even ask them what their favourite plant is and gift them with this. Alternatively, if you’re looking for low maintenance plants which are difficult to kill, opt for a spider plant, anthurium, or succulent.
Hold eco-friendly competitions
A great way to encourage staff to be more eco-friendly is by hosting competitions relating to sustainability. Not only will this reduce the carbon footprint of the office, but it will be fun for employees too. There are so many different sustainable competitions to choose from as well, so why not experiment and try a few out? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Many office workers buy pre-packaged sandwiches for lunch from supermarkets. These sandwiches account for around a staggering 9.5 million tonnes of CO2 annually (The Independent). To help cut this figure down, host cooking or baking competitions and award the employees with the best-looking homemade lunch with vouchers.
- Host a competition to see which employee can walk the most steps in a week. This is a great way to encourage your employees to make their commute more green, whether it means getting off the bus a couple of stops earlier or even walking the whole commute.
- If you’re stuck for ideas yourself, why not ask your employees to help you out? Encourage employees to think up eco-friendly office initiatives, and give an award to the staff member with the best idea.
Have a well stocked office coffee station
One of the things employees will have missed most about working from the office over the course of the pandemic is grabbing a coffee at lunch or after work with their co-workers. However, takeaway coffee cups can be recycled in very few places and the production of the cups is bad for the environment too. In fact, 6.5 million trees are cut down each year to produce them, and four million gallons of water are wasted annually in the production process (Green Match).
So why not help employees enjoy a cup of coffee at work by adding a well-stocked hot drinks station to a communal area? As well as being a great way to help employees bond, they’ll also be able to save a bit of money on their daily takeaway coffee. For the full coffee shop experience, opt for a top-quality espresso machine complete with a milk steam arm and espresso grinder. And don’t forget to stock the extra ingredients, like syrups, chocolate dusting powder, and a range of dairy and non-dairy milks.
“Sustainability is a top priority for many of us this year. And considering the fact that we spend so much of our time in the office, it’s a good idea to think up ways to make our workplace more eco-friendly. The good news is that there are a number of fantastic ideas to choose from, many of which are incredibly easy to implement.
“Takeaway coffee cups have a major impact on the environment, so improving your office hot drinks set up is a great way to motivate employees to make their own. Plus, leftover coffee grounds can be used to fertilize indoor plants, so this will allow you to reduce your office food and drink waste a lot too.
“And everyone loves to be in with a chance of winning a prize, so hosting eco-friendly competitions is a great way to encourage employees to be more sustainable too. If you’re looking for ways to help employees to bond after their return to the office, you can even host group competitions to encourage your staff to work together.”