Working in an office can be one of the most environmentally damaging professions, despite our best efforts, but as time goes on more companies and businesses are opening their eyes to how easy it is to recycle, and how much of a positive financial impact it can make on the company, and the earth.
Computers left on, printers filled with uncollected files, food waste in the paper bins etc., all easy fixes, and a little knowledge can go a long way. Here are a few tips to help you:
Start at the top
If the tea boy starts asking people to compost their lunch, or to start cycling to work, it’s unlikely to hold much traction, but if the Managers and Board Directors start sending messages through the ranks, people are more likely to take a listen. At a weekly/monthly managers meeting, baby steps can be taken to start encouraging the team of managers/seniors to make a difference. Making sure all higher ups are on the same page will mean the whole work force can start adhering to the new rules. It’s all well and good implementing new rules, bins and posters, but if people don’t use them, it can never take its full effect.
Recycling doesn’t always mean trash
Although recycling usually applies to putting paper and plastic in the right bin, it really applies to just “re-using” an item, whether that’s now or later down the line. Using a fresh sheet of A4 to take meeting notes when there’s a stack of unread emails printed out on your desk is an unnecessary expense for both the company, and the earth. Things like printer cartridges can be collected at the end of each use and recycled by your local council. Most large chain supermarkets have cartridge recycle bins. Give one person in the office the task of collecting them and taking them to be recycled maybe once a month.
Working with other ‘green’ companies
Another way to assert your offices new approach to green business is to work with other likeminded companies. Whether it’s something simple like an earth friendly stationary provider or changing your storage supplies company. A company like Alison Handling for instance, offer a huge range of recycled storage containers for things like paper trays, office bins and even boxes for files. Not only are these environmentally friendly containers made from 100% recycled materials, they’re also fully recyclable when they become either damaged or not needed any further. Things like this can reduce the carbon impact of your company, which looks impressive to prospective clients, and makes them understand how importantly you take your business.
Most councils in the UK now have a food waste bin for their residents. If your company doesn’t already have one, speak to your council to see if you’re eligible. A microwaveable meal container can very easily go from a landfill item, to both recycled plastic and composted food just by emptying the remains from the container, and washing it out to be recycled. One thing offices go through in the thousands is tea bags. These can easily be added to food waste bins, saving even more wasting being sent to the landfill every year.
Cycle to work
Although this doesn’t affect the output of the business as a whole, it does affect the carbon output of the individual employees which is equally as important, and can lead to individual habits also being altered towards a positive change. The Cycle to Work scheme is a UK Government tax exemption initiative introduced in 1999 to promote healthier journeys to work and to reduce environmental pollution. It allows employers to loan cycles and cyclists’ safety equipment to employees as a tax-free benefit. This means that spending money on an expensive bike is no longer an excuse for employees to drive in. Alternatively, car shares are also an option, for example: If three employees live within a mile of each other, do all three need to drive every single day or could they take it in turns on a weekly basis to give each other a ride in.