10 simple tips for 365 days of green

By liz sheffield
Culture

Whether your workplace is already leading the way with environmentally-friendly options, or just beginning to put green practices into play, in honor of Earth Day (tomorrow!), consider these 10 simple tips to get—and stay—green at work:

1.  Create a green committee.
It’s great to nurture a green work environment on Earth Day, but it really needs to be nurtured all year long. Solicit the help of employees who are interested in serving on a committee that maintains, measures, and maximizes your organization’s eco-friendly efforts 365 days a year.

2.  Post your energy usage.
Make the amount of energy your office is using public knowledge. Gather data about electricity, water, and waste amounts. Post these numbers and set public goals to reduce them. This helps hold everyone accountable and encourages them to participate.

3.  Ditch the disposables.
Help put a dent in the estimated 500 disposable cups the average American office worker uses every year. Replace disposable utensils and cups with re-usable utensils and mugs in your office kitchens.

4.  Re-use office supplies.
Challenge employees to re-use supplies before throwing them away or buying something new. Dedicate a central location in your office where re-usable office supplies (pencils, pens, folders, desk organizers, envelopes, etc.) are kept.

5.  Stop wasting paper.
We can all make better choices when it comes to paper use. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the average office worker uses two pounds of paper or paper products per day. Recycling office paper is a great first step. The next step is making sure everyone knows how to print (or photocopy) on both sides of the paper. The best option is to encourage employees to think twice before printing.

6.  Provide recycling canisters.
Make it as easy as possible to recycle. Have designated collection canisters for paper, aluminum, plastic, and batteries in a central work area.

7.  Designate a location for food waste.
Establish a place where employees can deposit food waste that is then transferred to your waste management provider’s composting facility. This may take some planning and effort, but it’s worth it. The U.S. generated more than 36 million tons of food waste in 2012 according to the EPA. About 95% of that waste goes to incinerators, or landfills, where it rots and eventually becomes methane.

8.  Plan an annual swap meet.
Select an annual date when employees clean out their workspaces and bring unused or unwanted items to a designated area like a large conference room. Organize and sort like items. Then, let the swapping begin! Invite all employees to come and grab what they want. After the event is over, donate leftover items to charity.

9.  Put together a lending library.
Look through your bookshelves and find a few books you no longer need. Choose a shelf or table in a common area where the books can be stored. Encourage your team, department or anyone in the organization to contribute used books to this new lending library.

10.  Turn out the lights.
Reduce the electricity you’re using to light working areas when no one is there. Ask employees to turn lights off when they’re going to be away from their work area and when their work day is over. If possible, install sensors that turn lights off when conference rooms aren’t in use and timers that turn lights off after working hours.

Doing what you can to create a green work environment delivers many benefits, including reduction in waste, savings for the business, and protection for our planet. Involve your people in protecting the planet and you’ll reap the rewards of employees who are empowered and energized about making eco-friendly choices.

Categories: Culture, Work We Love

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By liz sheffield