So you’ve got the Environmental Management System and the certification… what next? What can individuals working in a business do to make a genuine positive environmental impact?
That’s probably a question most of us have asked at some stage. We want to be clean and green, but often feel powerless when we work in an office, far removed from what we think about as “the environment.”
Being green is not only good for the planet and good for your inner peace of mind, it can be a great way of strengthening your brand and saving money.
Here are some ideas to help you and your organisation make a REAL difference to the environment:
Find the “easy wins”
Step back and make an assessment of your organisation’s practices. Are you printing out documents that could be dealt with electronically? Is your office producing more waste than you think is necessary? Are your utility bills higher than they should be?
Check with the people likely to be affected by a change and get their ideas on how things could be done better. You’ll probably already have identified a couple of places where you can make a positive impact without big operational adjustments.
Here are some very obvious easy wins:
Office Lighting – Use energy efficient LED lights. The initial cost is higher, but they last up to 50 times longer, and use up to 75% less energy. This one is a no-brainer.
Switch lights off! Don’t leave your office lights on all night unnecessarily. Why not use motion sensor lights in bathrooms and conference rooms?
Computers – Switch computers right off when not in use. The same with printers. It’s estimated that this simple action can save up to $75 a year in power costs PER DEVICE! So don’t just leave it on standby.
Use a laptop computer instead of a desktop. Laptops use as much as 80% less power than desktops.
Switch Energy Suppliers – Sign up with a supplier that uses renewable resources.
Are you passionate about being green and having a more sustainable workplace? Why not share your passion?
Offer to be the “Point Person” on environmental issues in your office. Set some goals for your organisation and inspire other people to come with you.
Celebrate the wins when they occur and make sure you communicate the positive impact your organisation’s green practices are having. Don’t forget to point out the money you’re saving the business!
Make Recycling Easy
Everyone agrees with recycling, but most of us aren’t committed enough to practice it when it isn’t made easy.
Make recycling as easy as not recycling… place recycling points in the same areas as rubbish bins, and clearly signpost what goes where.
Ensure that your E-waste is gathered and engage a specialist service to recycle it.
Use Solar Power
Okay, this isn’t going to be possible for every workplace. But if you’ve got the chance to use some roof space to generate solar energy, go for it!
For a business open only in daylight hours, the power you generate may cover nearly all your energy needs. You can also negotiate deals with your energy provider that save you even more on power bills.
The cost of installation is soon more than covered by your savings and you’re reducing the use of resources. This is a big win.
Do you need to travel interstate for that meeting? Can you do it electronically instead? Can you work from home? Cutting down unnecessary journeys is a great way of reducing your environmental impact.
And remember, don’t print those documents! If they’re saved electronically, let them stay that way.
Now you’ve implemented a few simple ideas, and you’re making a positive impact. So you’re not just paying lip service to being environmentally friendly — that certification really means something.