Green New Year’s Resolutions for your Workplace

Green New Year’s resolutions can make environmental targets more attainable in your workplace, so why not make it a team effort this year?

green office

Think your workplace could do with making a few New Year’s resolutions? Why not make them green, and work together for a more eco friendly workplace. Green New Year’s resolutions can make environmental targets more attainable, and keeping them communal can boost relationships between colleagues and overall workplace morale. Everyone can get involved with these ideas, so if you’re looking for some inspiration for some new resolutions, this is a good place to start.

 Prevent paper waste

One of the worst habits that an office or workplace can pick up is wasting paper. Not only is global demand for paper leading to the destruction of forests worldwide, the production of paper is also a lengthy and energy-consuming one. So while recycling paper is good, reusing your own paper or going paperless is even better. If it sounds like your office could stand to make some changes, try making it your New Year’s resolution to implement a paper saving scheme in which all employees work to reduce the amount of paper they use, and use paper again where possible. This can include:

 

  • Forwarding emails instead of printing them out to pass them on
  • Using both sides of the sheet, whether printing, photocopying or writing by hand. Printers and photocopiers can now be set to print double-sided as standard.
  • Posting communal documents online as PDF files to be accessed easily by everyone without the need for printing
  • Reusing the blank side of junk mail for note taking rather than buying new note paper

 

While many New Year’s resolutions can become more difficult to maintain as time goes by, as the mindset of your workplace changes, it should become easier to stay paperless where possible as the perception of paper changes from it being a disposable commodity to a valuable resource.

Choose alternative forms of commuting

One way to really improve your business’ green credentials is to get as many people as possible using sustainable transport to commute to and from work, to reduce the emissions which come from driving every day. This can include encouraging fellow colleagues to cycle together, or simply providing information on the best local bus or train routes. Try adding a competitive element and see who can cover the most miles by bike or foot each week- a great way of encouraging health and fitness amongst employees as well as greener living. Some potential ideas for alternative commuting can include:

 

  • Choosing to cycle or walk to work
  • Using public transport such as busses or trains
  • Introducing a carpooling club in which 2 or more workmates share lifts together
  • Reducing the need for some journeys by opting for phone calls or teleconferencing to allow meetings to take place at a distance

 Save water

Everyone uses water whilst at work, from the toilets to the tea making facilities. Water is a precious resource which everyone can play a part in helping to save, regardless of the type of business you run or work for, and a water saving programme shouldn’t be too difficult to implement so long as you stick to a set of key aims to follow. Some of these can include:

 

  • Reusing water which is no longer needed for its original purpose, i.e. an unwanted glass of water can be used for watering office plants, and a larger container can be used for cleaning windows or surfaces
  • Check all pipes are free of leaks and fully insulated to prevent waste and ensure warm water on demand
  • Find and fix all leaking taps. If left, a leaking tap can generate up to 1 litre of wasted water per hour
  • If your workplace has a garden area, water responsibly and ideally, choose to grow indigenous plants which will gain sufficient water from the local weather
  • Ask employees to be responsible when using kitchen appliances. Only run the dishwasher when it is full, and fill the kettle to accommodate those who want a drink, rather than filling it to maximum every time
  • Keep an eye on your water meter and bills- if you can see a noticeable decline in water use, your colleagues are clearly working hard to reduce water waste. Let the whole workplace know that the results have been noticeable to keep everyone positive, and even offer rewards to keep motivation high.

 Responsible electronics use

From the smallest businesses to multinational corporations, electronic devices and technology, especially computers are vital in almost every office, maintaining business communications and storing data. But while they may do a good job at reducing your paper usage, they almost certainly make up for it with their high energy consumption. Workplace resolutions which can help to reduce energy consumption can include:

 

  • Switching from desktop to laptop computers which use less watts per hour of energy
  • Make use of energy saving functions on computers such as “idle” and “sleep” which use less energy than when in use
  • Opting for computers to enter “sleep” mode rather than displaying a screen saver- a notorious power guzzler
  • Electronics can also be kept green when they reach the end of their working life, by being reused or recycled responsibly. Many old computer components can be given new life so consider donating old computers or their parts to those who can find a use for them, before sending the rest off to be recycled.

Image sourced: Mike Peel

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