Taking steps to reduce your organization’s carbon footprint and become more eco-friendly isn’t just good for the environment; it can benefit your workplace culture. One study found that employees at eco-friendly companies were 16 percent more productive than those at more traditional companies. According to another survey, “employees [who] felt their employers were socially responsible were happier with their jobs.”
There are many ways to help the Earth, and every little bit counts. These tips, coupled with ideas for environmentally friendly gifts, can jump-start your efforts to go green with your workplace.
- Go paperless: Office employees go through a lot of paper. South of the border, statistics show that the average American office employee uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year. Here in Canada, some federal government employees reportedly go through 12,000 sheets a day! That’s more than 50 pieces of paper per day per person! It’s no surprise the government implemented a paper-saving strategy to reverse this trend. Your company can help. Store files digitally on a server or hard drive instead of printing them out. Provide employees with USB drives for files that need to be taken on the go. Scan and email documents instead of printing. If you do have to print, use both sides of the paper. Make the most of phone calls, instant messages and emails. Encourage employees to use a tablet or laptop to take notes during meetings.
- Reduce waste: Creating plastic utensils, paper plates, disposable lunch bags, foam cups, straws and even condiment packets uses up precious energy and resources. Plus, they take up an incredible amount of space in landfills. Choosing reusable cups, bags, plates and cutlery can make a difference. Provide each employee with an environmentally friendly gift like a lunch kit that comes complete with a reusable water bottle, lunch containers and cutlery. Stock the shelves with chalkboard mugs and reusable plastic tumblers with straws—they are great alternatives to paper cups and disposable water bottles. Promote recycling and, depending on your location, you may even be able to make your own compost bin for food scraps and coffee grounds. Reduce package waste by buying creamer, sugar and other condiments in bulk and providing them for staff to use in the break room.
- Promote alternative modes of transportation: Four in five employed Canadians drive their own vehicle to work each day, and most drive alone. Promoting the use of alternative modes of transportation, such as carpooling, public transit or park and rides, can significantly cut down on greenhouse gases and emissions. Or, forgo motorized transportation altogether and encourage walking or biking to work. About 7 percent of Canadians already do it. Discuss the benefits and hold a workplace-wide challenge where everyone uses an alternative mode of transportation at least one day a week. Enter those who participate into a prize draw for a computer backpack or bike light.
- Explore telecommuting: The ability to telecommute is a sought-after employee benefit, and it comes with some environmental perks, too. Not only does working remotely take cars off the road, it can also help some offices reduce their energy consumption. Fewer employees in the office means less lighting, heating and cooling. Teleconferencing with online meeting tools or instant messaging can reduce the need for in-person meetings. Be sure employees have the necessary tools for success. A great pair of wireless ear buds ensures they don’t miss a thing on those important conference calls. And a power bank will keep them fully charged even when they’re on the go.
Whether you’re trying to go paperless, reduce waste or lower the number of cars on the road, your efforts can make the Earth, and your employees, happier. Use one or all of these tips, plus environmentally friendly gifts, and you’ll soon see big changes. Good luck!