The office that looks to the future is sustainability-conscious. It’s designed with an eye towards materials, ventilation, lighting and air conditioning, to minimise environmental impact from every point of view.
Respecting the environment, however, must be an integral part of the company DNA, from management choices to the habits of individual workers, and mustn’t depend only on the architecture of the space or the chosen furniture.
Here are some simple tips to make the office more eco-friendly.
1. Use less paper
“The greenest paper is no paper at all” – Vince Digneo, Adobe* Sustainability Strategist
At the top of the list of bad habits is the reckless and unconscious use of paper and printers. With the digital and technological evolution, alternative digital ways of saving, storing and sharing documents can be adopted.
According to EPA (the US Environmental Protection Agency), the average US employee produces 900 grams of paper waste every day from printer errors, emails and printed reports or old magazines. This means that more than 90 per cent of the waste is actually paper: for the company, this represents an expense that accounts for 3 per cent of turnover and has a major impact on the environment.
If you want to become a paperless office, start by printing less and replacing paper notepads with a reusable dry-erase board.
2. Switch off computers and unplug cables
It’s a good habit to switch off the computer when not in use for several hours and set the stand-by settings to switch off the monitor when the computer is inactive. Before going home, remember to unplug unnecessary power sockets (e.g. your smartphone charger); alternatively, if possible, you can simply turn off the power socket switch.
3. Dress according to the season
The use of air conditioners to heat and cool offices is a major cause of pollution, and represents a considerable expense for the company. It’s a good idea to reduce the use of air conditioners both in summer and in winter, to clean the filters often and to dress according to the office’s temperature. Sometimes an extra jumper or a lighter fabric is enough to feel better.
4. Avoid disposables
If you bring lunch from home, avoid disposable plates and containers in favour of reusable products. Individually wrapped sachets of ketchup, salt, pepper or sugar should be replaced with standard-sized condiments. Similarly, replace plastic bottles with a reusable water bottle, and add a filter to tap water, if possible, to encourage colleagues to refill their reusable water bottles at work. Replace Styrofoam coffee or tea cups with reusable cups made of ceramic or compostable material.
5. Keep a plant on your desk
Create your own little green corner on your workstation and help improve the air quality of the room. Some recommended plants are Spataphyllum (Peace Lily), Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea), Chlorophytum (Phalangium), Pothos and Ivy.
6. Organize meeting via videoconferences
Reducing the pollution produced by travelling to and from work helps to improve some of the problems listed in the previous points. If possible, organise more meetings via a videoconference.
Through small daily actions and by involving colleagues, it’s possible to make a company truly sustainable. Everyone’s collaboration will help identify and activate other green projects aimed at achieving and improving sustainability goals.