Are you ready to go green and move towards a more eco-friendly business strategy? That’s great, not only from an ecological but also from a social and economic point of view. Employees, especially Millennials and Gen Z, are very attentive to the initiatives their organization puts into action for the planet. Working for a company that is not environmentally friendly might be counterproductive when you are actively trying to be sustainable at home. The same applies to your customers and partners. Many turn their back on corporations that remain indifferent and continue using harmful practices to people and the environment.
So how can you reduce your ecological footprint and be more ethical? What actions can you implement to create a greener workspace? What should you do first? These 21 sustainability in the workplace ideas will help you get started..
But remember: the most effective way to become and stay sustainable in the long run is to take it step by step. Despite the desire to tick off all these eco-friendly measures as quickly as possible (the sooner, the better for us and the planet), we recommend incorporating them gradually.
When technology helps you reduce your environmental impact
1. Take advantage of smart technology
Workplace technology offers a large number of resources to support you in mitigating your ecological impact. From sensor devices to smart plugs and automated facility systems, modern technology has made reducing your energy consumption and carbon footprint easier. Also, sustainability measurement tools are a great solution to analyzing your economic, social, and environmental KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
2. Switch to digital work
Not only does digitalization decrease paper waste, but it also allows one to perform remote work without any constraints. Flexibility gives people the opportunity to work from home or a third workplace more often and therefore, reduces pollution caused by commuting. It means rethinking your office space planning, which can help you save energy and make sustainable improvements.
3. Become a paperless office
Our planet's resources are not endless, as we all know. For this reason, it is crucial to reduce our paper usage as much as possible. Solutions such as office digitalization or paper alternatives like erasable stone paper notebooks help minimize waste and preserve forest and water resources.
4. Decrease the brightness of your screen
According to a Harvard University professor, decreasing your computer screen’s brightness from 100% to 70% can save up to 20% of the monitor’s energy. This is a simple green idea to implement in your sustainable strategy. Your employees can adjust the lighting settings or switch to dark mode. On top of that, dark mode options help minimize eye strain, which can appear when working online daily.
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From the cafeteria to the bathroom, there is a sustainability idea for every aspect of your business
5. Shift to a green kitchen
Depending to the size of your organization, you may have a cafeteria or a dining area. And here, you can take some simple steps to go green. First, introduce initiatives to reach a zero-waste kitchen (non-disposable cups, cutlery, towels), including reusable coffee pods and opting for loose tea. Second, promote local and organic products in addition to offering more vegetarian and vegan options.
6. Choose clean products for a clean office
Using cleaning products that are neither harmful to our health nor to the environment is a basic rule in a green office. Although it is a great alternative to chemical solutions, we won't suggest you should make your cleaning products. However, you can opt for items with eco-friendly certifications and labels. On top of this, promote sustainable practices like using reusable supplies such as non-disposable cleaning cloths.
7. Implement zero-waste and energy-saving bathroom solutions
Small changes can greatly contribute to minimizing our impact on the planet. For example, forget about paper towels and introduce automated hand air dryers. Many businesses also switch to water-efficient sink faucets to reduce their water costs and consumption. The same goes for lighting. Installing sensors helps you save energy. Or, you could also use recycled trash bin bags. There are just a few ideas for creating a greener bathroom.
8. Promote the powerful ‘3 Rs’
Reduce, reuse, recycle, and you will already be much more sustainable than most companies. This simple rule helps us conceptualize sustainability and therefore has a huge impact. Share it with your teams and work together to make it a common goal. From reducing the use of disposable materials to reusing tech devices and recycling energy, the areas of action are endless.
Sustainability in the workplace: ideas for the office
9. Bypass printing or print double-sided when you can’t avoid it
Technological development and digitalization enable you to print much less than before. Generally, there is no need for paper documents. On top of being better for the planet, switching to digital is also more secure as you can always protect your online files with a security system.
10. Go paperless or use deforestation-free paper
Suppose you have no other option and need a printable version of some documents. In that case, you can still pick more sustainable ways of doing it. For example, choose to print on recycled or FSC-certified paper. When looking at the current issue of deforestation worldwide, using the resources we derive from trees more ecologically is vital for the planet.
11. Switch to green and renewable energy
Reviewing the size of your office after switching to a hybrid work model is already going to help you minimize your energy consumption. But what about the power you need to run your workspace? Who your electricity provider is can significantly impact your carbon footprint and your efforts in reducing it. Do you want to know how much you could save for your business and the planet? Check out the Big Clean Shift!
12. Measure your carbon footprint and set realistic goals
Do you know where to focus your sustainable efforts? How do you set realistic goals to make your company more socially and environmentally oriented? Before creating a green policy and implementing eco-friendly actions, measuring your carbon footprint and social impact is essential. It would help you define clear objectives, see your progression over time, and keep improving.
13. Consider a BYOD policy for your team
With an efficient security system and policy, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) concept helps organizations minimize their costs and impact on the planet. Imagine if every person who uses a computer for work used the same equipment at home. This is the perfect example of the 3 Rs concept. By encouraging repairing rather than buying, you can reduce the number of specialized materials used and reuse or recycle equipment if needed.
14. Focus on digital pollution
It is sometimes hard to grasp the idea of ‘digital pollution,’ as it is a phenomenon we cannot see, but is a real problem. One e-mail emits 10 g of CO2 and 60% of them remain unopened in our mailbox. Although it can be challenging to prevent digital pollution, it is possible to put simple initiatives into place and encourage your team to do so as well. For example, avoiding unnecessary e-mails, unsubscribing to irrelevant newsletters, or promoting a sustainable search engine like Ecosia are great ways to lower your digital impact.
From commuting daily to work travels, let’s see what sustainability ideas your businesses can implement
15. Choose ground transportation instead of flying
Flying has become an essential part of our personal and professional lives. However, this is the most polluting means of transport and it should be the last option. Consider taking trains whenever possible or carpooling if your team needs to drive somewhere. Even better if one of them has an electric car! Promoting ground transportation is real proof of alignment with your sustainable values.
16. Promote the idea of using public transport to get to work
Going to work by car is just a habit for many of us. Why not use public transportation when you live too far from the office to bike or walk there? Encouraging your employees to take the train, the bus, or the subway is a great idea to reduce their CO2 emissions even before arriving on-site.
17. Encourage biking or walking when the office is close by
If your workers live close to the office, try encouraging them to walk or bike. It's the most sustainable way to commute! Moreover, including more physical activity in our daily life is good for our health and increases our capacity to focus and be productive. It’s a win-win.
Boost the eco-friendly movement by having clear communication about your sustainability initiatives in the workplace ideas
18. Share information and green tips with your team
When you decide to include environmentalism in your business strategy, communicating about your initiatives, results, and actions is the first step to making it happen. You can, for example, organize a meeting every quarter to discuss this topic. Another idea is to train your teams on sustainability and share relevant tips with them that they can implement at work and at home.
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19. Be clear with your partners about your sustainability requirements
Focusing on ethical and environmental practices is great. However, your efforts loose their worth if your partners and suppliers don’t share the same vision and values. It is important that you communicate your strategy to develop a more sustainable business model and share what expectations you have of your partners. In this way, they can have a better understanding of your standards and contribute to the positive changes being made.
20. Spread the word to increase the introduction of sustainable workplace ideas
The goal is to show other organizations how sustainable ideas can be implemented and why they are environmentally, socially, and economically beneficial. Hopefully, this will inspire other companies to introduce similar practices. In the global industry, creating a greener environment has a much more significant impact than individual actions. Therefore, motivating more corporations to do the same is crucial.
21. Get an official environmental certification
A sustainable certification confirms your commitment and shows you have a legitimate and relevant environmental management system (EMS). Your efforts in implementing effective green and social practices will allow you can become certified by the international standard on Environmental Management (ISO 14001) or B Corp. These two certifications are globally known and trusted.
Offsetting your carbon footprint should the last resort. Instead, the goal should be to produce the least amount of carbon dioxide in the first place so you don’t have to counterbalance it.
These 21 sustainable ideas for businesses are crucial steps to creating a better workplace. If you have chosen to switch to a hybrid work model to meet your employees’ expectations and reduce your CO2 footprint, how do you plan to manage this new work model?