From electric cars to eliminating plastic straws, while “being green” has become caught up in politics, the U.S. has still made some significant strides over the years to be green and environmentally friendly. Given the size of the population in the U.S., it’s not surprising that our country is the 2nd largest energy consumer behind China who surpassed us in 2010 and relying on fossil fuels is not a long-term game plan. Going from being an affluent, “throw-a-way” society to one that refuses, reduces, reuses and recycles, is going to take extra steps to get to that cleaner future. “Going green” in your office is one area that can have a big impact. While the impact is worth the expense, these ideas might even put some money back into your budget! Check out these six things you can do right now to improve the green in your workspace.
One: Plant More
Adding a potted plant to your desk, placing larger greenery around your building, and planting trees on your property helps contribute to cleaner air. Plants function to absorb indoor air pollution and increase the flow of oxygen. For warehouses where it’s a safety issue to keep plants on the main floor, consider adding several to break rooms and lobby areas. Not only will all the green be good for the air and your health, it will also bring some extra life and personality to your space.
Two: Go as Paperless as Possible
This quick greening doesn’t cost more than the time to make your printer default to two-sided printing. You could cut your paper consumption by up to 50% just by printing on both sides of the paper. Also, of course, print on recycled paper and recycle all your paper once you’re done with it.
The greenest paper you can use is no paper at all. With document storage capabilities both on servers and in the cloud, on- and off-site, there’s no need to print and keep reams of paper records year after year. Store digital copies, review and proof documents, design on a screen whenever possible, and double-check documents that must be printed to ensure any blank pages are eliminated.
Three: Eat In More
While there’s nothing quite like getting out of the office for lunch, consider saving lunch out for a special occasion and pack a lunch the rest of the time. Reusable containers reduce waste (and protect your sandwich from getting squished before you can eat it!), whereas calling for takeout results in extra packaging and carbon emissions from the delivery vehicle. Going out means getting in your car, too, but you can reduce the impact on the environment by getting a big group together and carpooling.
Four: The Efficient Workspace
The downside, of course, to doing more digitally than on paper is that computers and other tech eat up energy. However, you can always set your computers to energy-saving modes, put them to sleep when you step away for lunch or a long meeting, and shut them down when you leave for the day.
It’s not just about cutting power usage, although moving to LED lamps from incandescent bulbs can also help cut energy consumption. Whether you’re considering a new build, expansion, redesign, or just need to add more desks for additional employees, be on the lookout for furniture that uses recycled materials. If you’re on a budget, save by finding pre-owned office furniture that can still have a quality second or even third life.
Five: Cut the Emissions
As tech has continued to become infinitely portable, and wifi and the cloud can keep us connected to networks and colleagues from anywhere in the world, it makes sense to offer flexible work schedules that allow for working from home. Americans spend over 3 billion hours and 23 billion gallons of gas commuting in rush hour traffic each year. Working from your home office is more environmentally friendly.
Six: Support Green Efforts in Your Community
As a founding member of a local organization called Green Bellevue, I am a big advocate for supporting our community in doing our part for going green. Each year, we organize an Earth Day Expo for the county of Sarpy to publicize the need to care for our environment and to promote membership in our organization to learn how to do so. The event theme is “Taking Steps to A Cleaner Future” and this year ROI stepped up the game by becoming a Champion Sponsor.
Are You Ready to Go Green?
There are so many steps we can take—big and small. We might be more aware on Earth Day, but we have a responsibility to our planet every day. If we can save 120 tons of steel by using one less staple a day, those small changes are a lot easier to make.
Happy Earth Day from all of us at ROI Consulting!