DISCOVER HOW TO GET YOUR EMPLOYEES ON BOARD WITH ECO-FRIENDLY OFFICE INITIATIVES.
“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
It takes all of us to make a positive change when it comes to sustainability and protecting our environment. The success of eco-friendly initiatives in the office depends on both small, individual actions (printing less, unplugging your phone charger, eating with reusable utensils) and corporate-wide measures (auditing purchasing practices, improving water efficiency, investing in renewable energy).
If you’re looking to encourage sustainability in your workplace, try out these tips:
- Start with a plan
- Encourage individual impact
- Create green teams
- Think big
Keep reading for ideas on how to encourage sustainability in the office at all levels.
START WITH A PLAN
Running a more sustainable business won’t happen overnight. First, it’s vital to have investment from leadership to show that sustainability is a priority across the organization and that everyone has to pitch in to make it work. Leaders can lay out long-term goals, share stories about why this work matters to them personally, and talk about sustainability’s impact on both the environment and the business. When managers and executives take the lead on green practices, others are more likely to follow and work together to make real change.
Next, establish ways to engage with people from across the organization, listen to new ideas and suggestions, and evaluate impact. Employees will likely have great ideas for how to reduce energy consumption or improve recycling, for example. Share success stories and metrics on an employee intranet or as a recurring agenda item in staff meetings.
Finally, take time to educate employees about the difference your company and each individual can make toward reaching your sustainability goals. You could include green tips in company emails, share statistics about paper consumption and recycling, or invite expert speakers to discuss the environment and sustainability.
ENCOURAGE INDIVIDUAL IMPACT
There are plenty of ways each employee can make a difference. Small changes start to add up when everyone participates and thinks more consciously about their actions every day.
Here are a few ideas every team member can implement on their own:
- Learn what is — and isn’t! — recyclable. Every municipality is different, so you might be throwing away something recyclable or trying to recycle something that won’t be accepted.
- Switch to reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, utensils, and plates.
- Think before you hit print. Could that multi-page document be printed double-sided? Do you need to hand out multiple copies of your presentation, or could you show PowerPoint slides instead?
- Reuse misprints. Turn single-sided documents that you might throw away into scratch paper.
- Automate your monitor to turn off after a few minutes of inactivity instead of turning on a screen saver.
- When possible, properly shut down or unplug computers, printers, scanners, photocopiers, and other devices before leaving for the night or weekend. “Phantom power” — or machines that are off but plugged in, therefore still using power — is a significant expense and waste of energy.
CREATE GREEN TEAMS
Building a more eco-friendly workplace can be a fun team bonding exercise and contribute to greater sustainability efforts. Establish a green team where enthusiastic employees can come together and think of creative ways to green up the organization. The sky’s the limit: green teams might research the effectiveness and cost of various initiatives or shape rewards programs or fun challenges.
For example, use some of the money saved from conserving supplies or energy to treat the office to lunch, demonstrating cost savings and thanking everyone for their effort. Plus, this kind of peer-to-peer leadership and modeling will encourage positive behavior changes among other employees. Check out this guide for the 10 Best Ways to Build and Manage a Green Team.
Some green initiatives require longer-term planning and financial investment from leadership and facilities managers but are crucial to advancing corporate sustainability:
- Conduct a waste audit. Are you using recycled paper with a high percentage of post-consumer content? Are you stocked up on recycled pens and pencils or refillable pens and markers? Can you replace kitchen and bathroom tissues and towels with those made of biodegradable materials and ask cleaning staff to use plant-based all-purpose cleaners?
- Improve water conservation by updating plumbing equipment, installing a water bottle filling station, or reducing lawn maintenance frequency.
- If you operate a cafeteria for employees and guests, replace plastic with reusable utensils, plates, and cups. Consider implementing additional recycling or composting collection.
- Update power systems to turn off lights and screens when they’re not in use.
- Investigate alternative energy options, such as solar or wind power.
- Partner with programs like ENERGY STAR that help businesses and families save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Evaluate space efficiency. Can you reduce energy use and carbon taxes by offering remote work options or cutting down on employee travel?
EZ Office Products is committed to sustainability and helping businesses of all sizes become “greener” by offering environmentally-friendly products and expert advice. Start shopping our online catalog or call (608) 310-4300 to connect with our local customer concierge team today.