5 Eco-Friendly Ways To A Greener Workplace Thinking About Storage, Cleaning, Lighting, Waste Management Key to a Greener Workplace

Greener Workplace. Credit: jpmatth, FlickrccNowadays, businesses are putting more focus on following their values and making sure they fall in line with their company business model. By creating an eco-friendly example for others to follow, you can create a better reputation for your company while leaving a smaller carbon footprint. At the same time, making sure that your finances stay in check while embracing your environmentalism values is important. These are the top five things to center your attention on when making sure your company stays in line with your eco-friendly values.

1. Reduce and Green Your Storage

You probably don’t think about storage when you think about your company values. However, if the primary focus of your company is to be more eco-friendly, this can be one of the most important aspects of reaching your goal. First and foremost, focus on buying eco-friendly office furniture to store your documents. Consider purchasing alternatives units to bulky metal cabinets. Wood lockers are sustainable storage options that not only look great but have a far smaller carbon impact on the environment in production than metal counterparts.

Storing paper documents in the office is actually a costly expense for your business. According to Records Nation, the average office worker will use approximately 10,000 sheets of paper per year. Since the standard box of copy paper box holds about 5,000 sheets at about $40 a case, this means each employee working in your office will go through about $80 work of paper a year. Multiply this by the many individuals you employ, and finding space for all those documents can easily become a significant expense.

Instead of creating paper reports and files, scanning documents into an online storage base can help reduce paper storage problems. Focus on purging the papers that you don’t need can free up space for things you do need. The sustainability strategist at Adobe, Vince Digneo, says that “the greenest paper is no paper at all”, noting we should all go paperless. Due to revisions, updates, and corrections, almost 90 percent of all office waste in the U.S. comes from paper. Keeping digital copies can reduce the need for physical documents.

2. Clean the Floor, Clean the Air

Chemical free cleaning is good for everyone. You can use pre-made “green” products from companies like Mrs. Meyers or Simple Green which use high quality non-toxic ingredients that are environmentally safe while remaining effective. If you want to really embrace the eco-friendly lifestyle, reuse a cleaning bottle to make your own DIY all-purpose cleaner. Most DIY cleaners use a combination of vinegar, water, and essential oils to clean away dirt and grime.

Greenify your office by adding indoor plants. Since indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental health risks today bringing plants into the office can help purify the air and create an inviting stress free space. Interior air can be contaminated with toxic chemicals from furniture, carpeting, and paint. Having plants in the office can help increase the amount of oxygen while cleaning the toxins in the air.

Regular tune-ups and cleaning of heating appliances, lighting fixtures, and electrical units can ensure the efficiency of your company machinery. By keeping building appliances running properly, you are reducing unnecessary maintenance costs. You are also ensuring that your appliances are running cost effectively.

3. Turn Off the Lights

The way your company uses utilities is incredibly important to consider when organizing your office in line with business values. By creating an “everything-off-at-night” rule, you ensure that your company is not wasting energy while no one is in the building. Changing the settings on your computers to automatically power off after a certain amount of time is a good way to make sure office equipment gets turned off when not in use. You can also change the computer settings to “power save” mode to save even more.

Turn down the heat in your building during the night time to avoid wasting (and paying for) energy when no one is in the office. By replacing burnt out fluorescent bulbs with LED light bulbs your company will use less power. If it’s in the budget for the company, focus on converting to renewable energy sources. Depending on the size of the building, adding solar panels is a great option to add independent energy options without the excess carbon footprint.

Consider using a green app. Green Outlet tracks and tries to predict what your electric bill and carbon footprint is based on which appliances you use. It allows you to select the type of appliances you typically use in your office (computers, microwaves, refrigerators, etc), as well as the approximate hours per day that you use each. If you exceed the U.S. government’s recommended carbon output limits, the app will warn you and give you options to offset your carbon footprints.

4. Use Recycled Goods

A paperless office may still be unrealistic for your company, but cutting down where you can will make a big difference. Consider printing double-sided documents. This allows you to print the same information while saving paper. By using 100 percent recycled paper products in the office, you get a quality product you need while staying eco-friendly. Focus on purchasing chlorine-free, acid-free papers with a high amount of post-consumer recycled content for the most eco-friendly options.

Buying used furniture off of websites like Craigslist or Letgo ensures that old furniture doesn’t end up in the landfill unnecessarily. Buying furniture from auctions and liquidation sales helps retain some of the companies budget while recycling used furniture. Setting up an exchange network in your community allows you to save money and resources while reducing the overall waste going to a landfill. These exchanges can include things like furniture, computers, and electrical equipment.

5. Decrease Your Waste

The easiest way to align your business with your eco-friendly values is to increase your recycling output and decrease your waste! By placing recycling bins everywhere in the office, you avoid the need for employees to hunt them down. Also consider adding a compost bin to your breakroom. By having easy access to a place to throw away organic food scraps, you are reducing your overall company carbon footprint and your impact on your local waste facilities.

To reduce paper waste, consider unsubscribing to junk mail lists and updating your in-house mailing lists. This is an easy way to avoid sending out unnecessary documents, as well as to ensure you don’t receive documents that you will just toss in the garbage (or recycling!). Consider focusing your output information on email advertising versus direct mail or flyers. Promotional material sent through the mail is more likely to end up as waste before it is fully read than an email.

By adding hand dryers to your bathrooms, you reduce the need for disposable paper towels. If this is not an option, consider adding a recycling bin to the bathrooms. This will give employees the opportunity to recycle paper towels after using them, further reducing your companies paper waste.

By creating a business environment that falls in line with your eco-friendly values you are helping reduce your impact on our planet while being a role model for your consumers and employees, all while following your own company values.