Sustainability isn’t just an accomplishment that takes place on a certain day or at a particular time. Opportunities for sustainable practices are all around the workplace every day. Consider the various functions of each part of your office, and what could be done to conserve precious resources like energy, water, and material waste.
Conference rooms provide some good examples. If your green team is proactive, you’ll already be keeping these action items in mind when planning meetings in your board or conference room:
- Ask participants to bring their own water bottles so there’s no need to provide disposable cups.
- If food is being served, ask employees to RSVP so you have an accurate head-count.
- Opt for buffet-style rather than individual servings to avoid waste.
- Consider your catering options and choose locally sourced or organic foods for less impact on the environment.
- If the room has natural lighting, keep the overhead lights low or off.
- Close the windows if the heat or air conditioning is running.
- Make use of technology to reduce paper handouts.
- Remember, it is easy to set the tone and make this an educational moment, as well!
In addition to daily meetings, there might be room for improvement in your office as a whole. Ask your supervisor or building facilities manager if it the following actions are happening, and work on a plan to encourage the changes if they aren’t:
- Purchase energy efficient appliances and products, certified by the U.S. EPA’S ENERGYSTAR program.
- Since going completely paperless is probably unrealistic, follow the stewardship trail, and choose office printer paper that is certified to be sustainable.
- Ensure that the housekeeping staff is using as few harsh chemicals as possible. For example, use only products certified by the Chlorine Free Products Association, and follow these green cleaning tips!
- Make use of the self-addressed return envelopes that come with most printer cartridges (such as HP, Dell, and Apple), and send to them back to the supplier.
- Be sure items such as televisions and computers are always properly recycled. “E-waste” contains a lot of toxic heavy metals that can seep into water sources.
Finally, here’s Sustrana’s high-level look at the connection between employee engagement and sustainability. Hopefully your thought process is now churning, and you’ll try some of these steps in your own workplace. Leave a comment below to let us know how it goes!