How to make your office more sustainable
As we’re plunged deeper into a climate emergency, workers are understandably demanding more from their employers when it comes to sustainability. According to a recent survey from intranet company Unily, 65% of respondents said they would be more likely to work for a company with robust environmental policies, yet just 17% thought their employer was doing enough to tackle climate change. Consequently, it’s up to organisations to change this both for the sake of the planet and their own prospects, as this will help them attract and retain workers.
One of the most significant ways they can be more sustainable is by changing how they use the office. As the days of exclusively remote working are now over for most organisations, the office has regained its place as the hub of a business. And just like we can all be more sustainable in the home, companies can be more eco-friendly with how they use their workspaces too. Here are a few ways your own business can do this itself.
1. Use green cleaning products
Most commonly-used cleaning products are terrible for the environment, largely because they contain toxic chemicals like phosphorus, nitrogen, and ammonia. Collectively known as volatile organic compounds (or VOCs), these chemicals can end up in rivers and lakes and harm plants and wildlife when washed down the drain. VOCs can also have a detrimental effect on ground-level ozone levels, therefore contributing to climate change, while exposure to these chemicals can cause issues in humans too. These include skin and eye irritation, liver and kidney effects, and even carcinogenicity.
So, when cleaning your office, regardless of whether it’s a quick tidy over a deep clean, be sure to use green cleaning products that don’t contain VOCs. Of course, many organisations rely on external cleaning companies to leave their office looking spick and span, so it’s imperative you hire one with sustainable cleaning practices. One example of such a company is NuServe, the UK’s first B Corp certified office cleaning business. In order to obtain this certification, companies must show high social and environmental performance, and NuServe certainly fits the bill. It not only uses chemical-free cleaning products, but implements sustainable sourcing practices and has an electric fleet, among other green measures.
2. Introduce meat-free Mondays
We’re all aware of the environmental perils of eating meat by now. The process of meat production leads to issues like deforestation, biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions, while also using up copious amounts of finite resources like water. Because of this, it’s been recommended by the University of Bonn that rich countries need to cut their meat consumption by 75% if we are to continue being able to rely on the Earth to feed us in the future.
Therefore, a great way to make your office more sustainable is to encourage workers to go veggie or vegan during the days they come in. This could be in the form of a dedicated meat-free day (like what the alliteratively named Meat Free Money initiative proposes) or only supplying meatless company meals for your workers. One in eight workers would actually welcome a meat-free office entirely, but introducing this in your own workplace will depend on your employees’ preferences. Seeing as 40% of workers want their company to provide more vegetarian or vegan food options, at least giving everyone the option is sure to be a winner.
3. Go paperless
In today’s online-centric world, there simply isn’t the same need to rely on paper as there was in times gone by. Paper has hugely negative effects on the environment, from the obvious impact of deforestation to the enormous amounts of energy and water used to create it. In addition, paper accounts for over a quarter of waste in landfills. So, our final tip here is to go paperless, with ways to do this including:
Use digital apps
Whether it’s cloud storage tools like Google Drive, note-taking tools like Evernote, or e-signature software like PandaDoc, there are so many processes that you can digitise, reducing the need for paper.
Use reusable products
For example, rather than giving staff paper towels to dry their hands, install hand dryers in the bathroom and have reusable tea towels in the kitchen. While, instead of using paper or plastic kitchenware like plates and cups, use reusable types.
For any paper products that do still get used, be sure to encourage your staff to recycle them by placing recycling bins around the office. Whenever you can’t avoid using the material, rely on recycled paper instead of the regular kind.