No matter how hard you try, there’s always more you can do to curb your plastic footprint or save energy. While it’s important to greenify your household, from recycling on a daily basis, to cutting down on plastic bags, right down to the mattress you sleep on, all this is easy to forget once we set foot in the office.
Whether you run your own business, work for a big company or are freelance in a co-working space – there are so many ways you can make your office kinder to the planet.
Here are three adjustments you can put in place at work that will benefit the environment, and you’ll hardly even notice the changes.
1. The problem with printing
Despite the fact that the majority of what we do is online nowadays, we’re still printing copious amounts of pages every day. Over in America, the average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper annually. In the UK, every worker consumes the equivalent of 4.48 trees per year. This is problematic for several reasons.
Firstly – paper waste. One thing you can start doing tomorrow is reading your documents online and using communal sharing platforms like Google Docs. If you have to print, look for the FSC Chain of Custody Certification in future, which guarantees that your paper came from a sustainably managed forest.
Secondly – ink cartridges. Many ink cartridges contain toxic ingredients such as ‘butyl urea’, which is there to prevent your paper from curling. The presence of these harmful chemicals makes them harder to recycle. 11 ink cartridges per second and 1 million cartridges per day are thrown away, instead of recycled, according to Energy Central. So consider investing in an eco-friendly printer that uses vegetable based ink and prints on recycled paper.
2. Always unplug
It might sound like a drag, but it’s just another habit-breaker you can get used to and will make a huge difference. Computers and electronic devices in standby mode mean your office will have a sky-high rate of energy consumption if you never switch anything off.
Everyone should be responsible for their own desktop, but make sure the last person leaving the office turns off the air conditioning and the lights every day. One smart way to ensure this happens is to talk to your boss about installing sensors. These automatically sense when there is no longer any motion in the room and turn off your air con/lights for you.
If your team want to take sustainability really seriously, you can consider buying new computers that are ‘energy compliant.’ Look for the Energy Star label, which guarantees a third-party certification that your computer will use 25% less energy than conventional models, by better managing energy use when idle.
3. Literally greenify your office
Indoor air pollution is a real thing and one way to deal with it is to buy plants. Plants produce oxygen, which offsets the carbon emissions caused by electronic devices constantly being on. Not only do they bring a nature-themed vibe to your workspace, plants will give you a top-up of healthy, productivity-boosting oxygen and improve your office air quality.
We recommend going for plants that don’t require a lot of maintenance, such as:
- A peace lily
- Spider plant
- Weeping Fig
- Money plant
Stefan Mantu, the architect behind the ‘off the grid office’, tells Euronews Living of the importance of “integrating any kind of human environment into a natural environment, because it offers perks that we normally try to reproduce through artificial materials.”
WWF’s Green Office initiative helps offices in Finland to improve, through waste sorting and recycling, adapting travel policies to include less business flights, using less water and helping employees be more environmentally mindful at work.
Finland is leading the way in eco conscious office culture in Europe, with 150 Finnish organisations having received the Green Office certification already.