10 Ways to Create a Sustainable Work Environment

With each passing year, cultural awareness of the oncoming threat of climate change increases. So, too, does the individual urge to do one’s part for combatting this looming danger by taking measures to help the environment. Thankfully, there are a number of ways one can do this, from a small scale such as one’s own personal life choices, as well as on a larger scale, such as a business taking efforts towards making a sustainable workplace for its employees. A sustainable workplace refers to a business that makes efforts towards a greener output and atmosphere for its workers. Here are 10 ways that you can do your part in creating a more environmentally friendly work environment.

1. Go Solar

A sustainable workplace means a healthier placeOpens in a new tab. for you and your colleagues. One of the most effective ways of going green, either at home or in a larger-scale office building, is by switching the fuel you use to power the facility. Making the change from burning traditional fuels to using solar power is one of the most significant steps you can make towards providing a healthier, greener space for your workplace.

The reason this change is significant is because solar energy is abundant, clean, and renewable, which will lead to a much more environmentally sound output on the planet. Look up the solar panel costOpens in a new tab. in your area and you will find the addition of solar panels to your office building will make a huge difference and will be the first important step towards a sustainable work environment for you and your fellow coworkers.

2. Choose Greener Travel Options

One of the biggest causes of pollution comes from transportation. This ranges from simple road transportation via vehicles, to the much more pollutant-heavy air travel. Fortunately, there are numerous ways your workplace can significantly cut back on travel for employees, both on the small scale and on the large scale.

When traveling from home to the workplace every day, make the change from driving your own vehicle by yourself to taking public transportationOpens in a new tab. or a carpool, as you will not only cut down on pollution but road congestion as well. If possible, try to walk or ride a bicycle to work as well. The fewer vehicles on the road, the fewer pollutants output into the air, which also means the roads will open up and be freer of traffic.

3. Work from Home More Often

The 2020 pandemic has made working remotely a requirement for many employees in the United States. While this is a major shake-up and an inconvenience for many, the upside is that working remotely means less travel and therefore less pollution. Going into 2021, working from home may become more common altogether, which means if you choose to take this option at least once a week, you and your colleagues will be doing their part to cut back on travel. Since air travel is the biggest cause of travel-based pollution, video conference calls replace the need for in-person meetings, thus creating a positive influence on the environment.

4. Recycle More

Encourage both yourself and your coworkers to recycle more items in the office. Throwing paper, aluminum, and plastic in the trash is not the ideal way of disposing of those items, so make sure you have recycling receptacles in the break rooms and in the main office areas. If you create incentives for workers to recycle, then you are likely to encourage greener practices in the office overall, making for a collaborative effort towards creating a greener work environment for everyone.

5. Cut Back on Disposable Items

In the same vein, using fewer items that need to be disposed of in the first place is another important environmental step. Just as you should encourage recycling, you should also encourage reusable items. Cutting out plastic water bottles in favor of reusable stainless steel water cups is just one example. In the break room, replace disposable plastic utensils with washable cutlery, and similarly, do away with single-use paper and plastic products such as cups in favor of reusable, washable dishes. Plastic is one of the most harmful products to the environment, so replacing it should be a priority for everyone in the office.

6. Use Energy-Efficient Light Sources

There are many ways you can cut back on energy consumption in the workplace. One way to start is with the light sources you use. Replacing all lightbulbs with lower wattage bulbs or LED lamps goes a long way. Not only do these sources save on energy, but they last considerably longer, saving the office money in the long run. In addition, whenever a room is not in use, make sure to turn the lights off.

7. Turn Off Energy-Consuming Items Not in Use

As you should turn lights off in empty rooms, you should do the same for any other items that are not in use. If your phone, laptop, or other electronic device is fully charged, unplug the charger from the wall. If a room has a ceiling fan, make sure it is turned off when the room is empty. Encourage everyone you know to practice these small, easy habits, and you will enjoy the win-win bonus of better environmental practices and lower power bills.

8. Use Fewer Paper Products

Since the world is going more towards digital products every day, cutting back on physical paper is an increasingly easy change to make. Keep all of your documents on your computers rather than on paper. This is not only easier to organize, it also cuts down on the unneeded printing of paper, saving both energy and paper products.

9. Have More Meatless Meals and Waste Less Food

Eating meat for every meal can do more harm to the environment than you might realize. You do not have to go fully vegan, but encourage your office’s cafeteria to have at least one day of the week which prioritizes meatless lunches. By having only plant-based meals for just one day out of the week, you will make a significant positive impact on the environment.

In addition, with food in general, meatless or otherwise, make sure nothing goes to waste. Disposing of food is not just wasteful, it can also be harmful. Save leftovers if you can, or repurpose them for compost. Set up a food waste receptacle separate from other bins to use for compost.

10. Decorate with Plants

Houseplants are not just a pretty accent to your rooms. They also produce oxygen and create a healthier, greener (figuratively and literally) space to occupy. Certain plants can also have other benefits to the physical space, such as decreasing the room temperature, which can save on air conditioning usage. Encouraging your coworkers to keep plants around the office will create a fun activity that increases both morale and environmental awareness.

Greener decisions start with the individual. However, by encouraging your colleagues at the workplace to join you in these eco-friendly changes, your efforts will add up and have a major impact on the environment in a positive way. These green activities in the workplace will help connect you and your coworkers will create a healthy, sustainable space, and will reflect positively on your company as a whole.

Steve Todd

Steve Todd, founder of Open Sourced Workplace and is a recognized thought leader in workplace strategy and the future of work. With a passion for work from anywhere, Steve has successfully implemented transformative strategies that enhance productivity and employee satisfaction. Through Open Sourced Workplace, he fosters collaboration among HR, facilities management, technology, and real estate professionals, providing valuable insights and resources. As a speaker and contributor to various publications, Steve remains dedicated to staying at the forefront of workplace innovation, helping organizations thrive in today's dynamic work environment.

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