5 Steps to a More Eco-Friendly Office
Go green with simple changes that can also improve office efficiency.
Corporate responsibility regarding sustainable environmental practices has moved beyond the trend phase and is solidifying itself as a core tenet of doing business in the new economy. More and more businesses, of all shapes and sizes, are taking on purposes greater than the bottom line.
Offices and business are part of local communities and have as much (and in some cases more) to contribute to their well-being and sustainability as anyone. If enough individuals and individual offices take better steps to be more eco-friendly, those collected efforts can all add up to significant change with a positive impact.
An environmentally friendly office is not only good for the planet, but it’s also good business. Beyond recycle bins, here are five simple steps you can take to move any size office in any industry toward a more eco-friendly way of working.
1. Get more miles out of your technology
Technology drives business today. Every office depends on computers, workstations, copiers and printers to get on with the flow of the workday. That’s a lot of hardware filled with materials that should never go in the trash. As reported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), it's significantly more environmentally friendly to reuse computers than to recycle them every three to five years.
Refurbishing, updating system software and relying more on cloud-based solutions are a few ways to help extend the life of hardware around the office. You’ll also reduce electronic waste and help conserve the resources needed to make a new product. Real talk: Unless you’re in a high-tech field where processing power is a premium, there’s rarely a need for the latest and greatest bells and whistles the tech giants’ marketing departments are pitching.
2. Update office processes like mailing and shipping
Still mailing out office communication the old-fashioned way? If anyone in your office spends time licking stamps or making multiple trips to the post office, it’s time to upgrade. Digital mailing and shipping solutions will help save the planet, and they’ll also improve office efficiency, saving valuable time and money.
Office technology partners like Pitney Bowes offer multiple options for streamlining and greening the way offices of all sizes mail and ship. With a web-based solution like the PitneyShipTM shipping software, you can take care of everything right from your computer and print postage with your regular office printer. You won’t even have to start up the car to drive to the post office.
3. Cut out single-use plastic
On the not so technical side of the office, limiting plastic usage is one of the most significant efforts you can take to help to reduce your environmental impact. According to an ongoing National Geographic report, more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in the oceans.
Start by swapping out plastic cups, take-out containers and utensils for real coffee mugs, silverware and dishes. Invest in a refillable water/beverage cooler and encourage everyone to bring in their own reusable water bottles. Now there’s no need to buy case upon case of individual water bottles from the wholesale store. There are also plenty of coffee and tea options that don’t rely on plastic pods.
So much wasted plastic only ends up in the environment, mostly the oceans. If reusable mugs and cups won’t work for all occasions, compostable paper is the next best option.
4. Reconsider paper usage
Speaking of paper… Office supplies are another great place to start greening your office. Based on EPA data collected in 2017, discarded paper and paperboard make up approximately 25 percent of solid waste in U.S. municipal landfills. So before printing anything, ask yourself, “Does everyone in the meeting really need a hard copy of my 35-page presentation?”
For security, privacy and other purposes, going completely paper-free isn’t very realistic. However, the paper you do use can make difference. Be sure to choose eco-friendly office supplies whenever possible. Recycled paper for printer and notepads is ideal. You can even use this paper calculator to gauge the impact of your choices.
5. Bring more green into the office
Now that you say it out loud it sounds like a no-brainer. Adding indoor plants to the office isn’t something most of us think of when considering the environmental impact of our workplace. This recommendation is more about the impact your office can have on your coworkers, and more green is always good for the earth too.
Nothing helps create an oxygen-neutral environment like an abundance of indoor plants. One NASA study cites the ability of houseplants to remove up to 87% of air pollution in an office over a 24-hour period. Sounds like a pretty good way to improve the air quality for everyone in the office.
Bringing more of the natural world into the office can actually improve our well-being and productivity while at work. More specifically, numerous scientific studies have shown adding plants to the work environment also helps reduce stress, depression, fatigue and more general symptoms of ill health.
Safeguard the future of the planet and your business
Growing a healthy business means investing in its future and contributing to the sustainability of that future for everyone who walks through the office doors.
The good news for office managers and business owners is going green and cultivating a more eco-friendly office is smart for the planet and for business. Environmental responsibility is an energizing initiative, and one that generally makes people feel happier, more engaged and more satisfied in the workplace.
Forward-thinking businesses will also recognize the switch to more environmentally friendly office habits and processes also leans heavily on the integration of technology. Digitally-enabled solutions are already replacing many of our more wasteful analog practices, so for many offices, the transformation has already begun. For some, it can’t come soon enough.