5 Small Office Changes to Help You Make a Big Eco Impact
As more of us try and make less wasteful choices in our personal lives, our work lives still take a hit and are adding to our greenhouse gas emissions each year. If you’re looking to become more sustainable in the workplace too, here are a few simple tips to help you dramatically cut your carbon footprint.
What a mug!
In the UK alone, 7.7 million single-use plastic bottles are used each year, adding to the 5 million tonnes of plastic waste we collectively throw away. Wasting away in landfills, we are not only damaging the ozone layer, but also our planet.
If you’re looking to reduce your plastic waste, stop using single-use plastic at work and opt for eco-friendly alternatives. This can mean choosing to use a mug instead of a plastic cup at the water cooler, bringing a metal straw to work to sip your drink from instead of using a disposable one, or even ditching using disposable cutlery at lunch and opting for some reusable ones that already may be in your office.
While some disposable items are still needed, even if as few as 1 in 10 of us refilled a reusable plastic bottle rather than buying a drink in single-use plastic, we would save a staggering 340 million plastic bottles from ending up in our landfills each year!
Cool down your heating habits
With most office arguments starting because someone’s touched the thermostat, temperature is probably a hot topic in your workplace. While constantly changing the heat or turning the air con on and off doesn’t seem like much, a government study from December 2018 shows that heat accounts for over a third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, with just under half coming from heating and cooling, and has become the largest energy consumer in the UK.
Instead of changing the thermostat twenty times a day, have a chat with your co-workers to find a temperature between that you’re all happy with and stick with it.
Next time you’re freezing, instead of making a b-line to the thermostat, layer up, have some hot drinks, or even think about investing in a blanket for the office or grab a jumper if you’re WFH. If your hands are still struggling and you’re finding it hard to type, grab a pair of fingerless gloves to help you stay productive even if it feels like it’s snowing inside.
If you’re literally the polar opposite and are always too warm, instead of having an argument with your co-worker about the air conditioning, think about changes you can make to make yourself cooler. Invest in more breathable fabric, have a stream of cold drinks coming to your reusable cup, or snack on frozen fruit. If you’re still boiling, have a quick bathroom break to run your wrists under cold water! This gives direct access to the circulatory system as the veins lie closer to the skin’s surface, so it cools you down quicker.
Public transport to and from work
Whether it’s getting some peace and quiet before the busy day or having your own personal karaoke session, driving to work is the best. And the majority of Britons agree, with 68% of us choosing to drive to work. And this all adds up, as in 2017 all those trips lead to a 5th of the UK’s greenhouse gasses.
If you’re WFH — congratulations! You’ve already drastically cut your carbon emissions without even realising it, and are being an incredibly sustainable employee. But if you’ve still got to go into the office and are looking for a carbon-free alternative, why not invest in a bike. With no emissions, you could weave in and out of traffic on your way to work while getting in some exercise.
Too far to pedal? Use public transport instead and make a tube, train, or bus part of your daily commute. While you might spend more on travel, you will be saving yourself thousands on petrol per year as you save the planet!
“The greenest paper is no paper at all”
From leaving a piece of paper in the photocopier to printing out emails, offices are some of the biggest paper wasters in the UK. While these little actions don’t seem like much, they have massive consequences, as paper comprises 20% of waste each year. What’s even worse is the average UK office worker wastes 10,000 tonnes of paper yearly too, and 75% of that scrap paper ends up in a general waste bin. And won’t get recycled. Ouch.
Although changing the actions of your paper-wasting co-workers might be tricky, you can control your affect on climate change and paper wastage by going paperless.
Instead of printing data to show fellow co-workers, use file sharing applications such as Dropbox or Google Drive to quickly and effectively share documents. These tools are especially useful if you and your colleagues are WFH either full or part-time, as everyone’s files will be easily accessible 24/7 online!
If you typically print out documents so you can see multiple pages while writing on your computer, ask management if you could invest in another monitor to offset both office costs and your carbon footprint.
Still thinking you need to use paper? Become more print aware by using applications such as Xerox’s Print Awareness Tool. Allowing you to make better printing choices, teaching you how to become more print effective, and even tracking how much money you’re saving each month, tools such as this one can help you to save the environment.
Don’t ‘standby’ — do something!
So, you’re working from home. Your emissions are probably really low, right? Wrong. With carbon emissions from every electrical appliance we use, ‘Vampire Power’ is sucking out of our plug sockets.
Vampire Power are appliances that continue to use energy even though they’re shut off or are on standby. The most common items that leak energy are TVs, microwaves, and, most importantly, our computer monitors.
While that tiny orange light doesn’t seem like it uses a lot of energy , the Energy Saving Trust found that each PC monitor left on overnight can waste enough electricity to laser print over 500 pages. With standby accounting for 1% of all greenhouse emissions, that low-screen glow really is a big problem …
So every night before you leave either the physical or virtual office, remember to turn your computer monitor off. Your monitor needs a rest too!
Written by Alison Irlam
WellBe is spearheading the way to a brighter future for corporate wellness. Our innovative portal is scientifically designed and tailored to each individual employee to improve their wellbeing. We specialise in a range of services from coaching and therapists, to meditation and reading materials. Our aim is to reduce workplace stress that costs UK businesses £42 billion per year. Get in touch with us by visiting our site wellbe.global for more information.