Approximately 70% of office waste is recyclable, but on average, only 7.5% gets recycled. This contributes to the 43.9 million tonnesof commercial and industrial waste that the UK produces, on average, each year. And this doesn’t begin to cover transport or energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, companies are looking for new ways to reduce their waste and environmental impact.
This is where sustainable workplaces come in.
A sustainable workplace strives to use resources and practices that have minimal to no impact on the environment. As well as reducing your carbon footprint, a sustainable workplace promises other benefits, such as reduced costs and improved culture. Indeed, on the subject of culture, Forbesfound that 64% of millennials wouldn't take a job unless the business had a strong corporate social responsibility (CSR), with 80% saying they’d be more loyal to companies contributing to social and environmental issues.
So, how do you become a sustainable workplace? In this article, we get you started with our top eight ways to promote sustainability in the workplace.
Encourage employees to use digital platforms for communication, documentation and storage. Digital and cloud solutions, like Microsoft Office, Google Drive, Xero and Gusto, have enabled companies to become more streamlined and efficient, while also reducing paper.
In the event that paper needs to be used, make sure that it is used with the environment in mind. This might include printing on both sides of the paper by default, avoiding over-production of marketing material, reusing paper where possible, and always recycling it after use.
As well as the benefits for the environment, going paperless will save you space and time, and enables easier transfer of information between employees and clients.
2. Implement Energy-Saving Practises
Implement energy-saving practices, and encourage employees to commit to them when in the workplace. For example, you can —
Use energy-efficient lighting and heating systems.
Invest in loft and cavity wall insulation.
Upgrade to energy-efficient appliances when the time comes.
Encourage employees to fill a sink, rather than keeping the tap running.
Make the most of natural light from windows, doors and skylights.
Turn off lights in unoccupied rooms.
Turn off computers and other electronics between uses.
Use kettles to only boil the water that’s needed.
If you want people to adopt these practices, they need to understand what they need to do and why they need to do it. Deliver strong and consistent messages to encourage your employees to also believe in the vision. This might include adopting a sustainable slogan.
3. Stock Eco-Friendly Products
From cleaning and office supplies to the utensils in the kitchen and the toilet paper in the bathroom, choose products that are kind to the environment. This might mean investing in low or zero-waste supplies that are biodegradable and free from harmful chemicals, and buying in bulk to cut down on packaging and travel miles.
You could also develop a procurement policy that prioritises the purchase of environmentally friendly materials, products and services. Although a voluntary act,The European Commission writes that this can ‘help stimulate a critical mass of demand for more sustainable goods and services which otherwise would be difficult to get onto the market.’
To help your employees get motivated about a green workplace, implement green initiatives with rewards. Bike to work schemes, car-sharing programmes, season ticket loan schemes, electric vehicle salary sacrifice schemes and “bring your own cup” rewards are some great initiatives to keep your employees engaged with sustainable practises.
When stocking your staff room and vending machines, you could also reduce the food and drink that comes in plastic, and instead offer locally-sourced and low waste snacks.
6. Invest in Office Plants
Create a ‘green’ workplace — literally! The benefits of investing in office plants are twofold. Indoor plants help to create a positive atmosphere for employees, but plants also help to absorb toxins and circulate fresh air.
7. Get Involved with Sustainable Community Initiatives
Doing your part for the environment doesn’t start and end in the office. Show your commitment to your local area by getting involved in sustainable initiatives, such as planting trees or local street clean-ups. If there isn't one, create your own!
Community Clean-Up: clean up litter and debris from streets, local parks and waterways, where it is safe to do so.
Community Gardening:create a shared green space where you can grow your own fruits and vegetables, for the workplace and locals.
Bike Sharing: set up a bike-sharing programme that allows employees and local residents to rent bicycles.
Sustainability Fair: host exhibits, presentations and workshops on sustainability issues and practises.
8. Monitor and Measure Performance
You should track and report on the progress of sustainability initiatives, and communicate the results to employees and stakeholders alike. This holds your workplace to account, and encourages continued progress towards your sustainability goals.
To do this, you should first have sustainability metrics that are relevant to your goals, such as reducing energy consumption. Data should then be collected and analysed on a regular basis, with regular reporting to understand what's going well and what could be improved. Use the data and feedback to monitor and measure performance, in order to continuously improve your workplace's sustainability efforts.
Wild & Stone's mission is to create stylish, easy to adopt and usable alternatives to common plastic products around the home. We source all our products sustainably, from raw material to final delivery. Shop our full range of home and lifestyle products on our website, also available as wholesale, or get more top tips over on our sustainable living blog.