Since the start of our company’s recent green initiative there has been increasing awareness in our office when it comes to being green. There are many ways that people can decide to reduce, reuse and recycle, but here are some of the steps we’ve found to be successful in all three areas.
As our office is in a very urban part of the city, we are fortunate to have access to several forms of public transportation. We all try to participate and have some options available such as the commuter train, subway, streetcars, buses and carpooling. Each of these options reduces carbon emissions and, as an added bonus, we feel that it improves our quality of life. With what would normally be a lot of time spent in the car in traffic, we can now prepare for meetings, read, socialize, and be stress free.
Our office has quite a bit of natural light available. Because of this, it’s common for us to work without having to turn the lights on. Each room has its own light switch and thermostat that allows us to control and maintain our energy consumption. Our building has even installed sensors in the bathrooms so that the lights only turn on when it is occupied.
The main culprit in our “reduce” area is paper consumption. There’s always someone you know in your office that “accidentally” prints off the entire sales database / inbox, or puts in paper the wrong way. The best policy we’ve implemented to help reduce our paper use is having a duplex printer. Our network team has assisted in updating everyone’s computers so their default settings include the duplex feature. If your office doesn’t have a duplex printer, you can always reuse sheets by putting them back into the printer to reprint on the other side. This is really good for those documents that you have to work off of but don’t need to keep forever.
The reuse philosophy is one that commonly gets overlooked by people in the office place. It’s easy to get your take-out food, use plastic forks and disposable cups. With our office kitchenette, we are able bring in our own lunches and reuse dishware instead of paper and plastic alternatives, thereby allowing us to wash and reuse plates, cutlery, and mugs.
There are also more creative ways to be “friendlier” in the food court than you may think. For instance, when getting coffee for the team, we keep the cardboard trays and take them back on our next coffee run. Some places will double-package your food, frst in its container, and then again in a bag. We skip the double-bag / plate, or bring our own substitute that we use on a daily basis. We also use reusable bags when going to and from the office.
Having someone on site that is diligent in educating and reminding others of our green responsibility is essential. We affectionately refer to this person as the “office garbage picker”. This person is our constant reminder that “Yes, that can be recycled” or “No, you don’t need to print that email”. Creating signs can also help people understand the role they play in office recycling.
In order to be more efficient in recycling, we are approaching our building management to discuss options for composting or “green boxing”. This is one thing that we are currently unable to facilitate on our own and need additional support for.
Being more aware and having good communication with your teammates is important to achieving the three Rs of reduce, reuse, recycle. These are the things that have worked for us, but there are tons of ways to go green in your office. What challenges or successes has your office faced in going green?