Does the K-cup coffee maker at work got you feeling down? If your company’s environmentally unfriendly ways cause your eco-anxiety to spike, maybe it’s time to take action. Chances are, you’re not the only one in your employer’s cluster of cubicles wringing their hands over needless print jobs and limitless plastic cutlery.
We’ll walk you through the steps to take you from lone, eco-friendly wolf to finding your pack of climate champions to transforming your workplace into an environmentally friendly workplace.
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Your initiative to make your workplace more eco-friendly begins at the top. Support from the executive suite makes a host of green changes possible, both large and small. Something as simple as collecting paper in recycling bags can be easily undone if the directive isn’t cemented in executive approval. Use the following tips to obtain management’s support for green action.
Businesses that are environmentally responsible save a surprising amount of money. Present your executive with the following figures.
- According to the EPA, using the printer costs at least 13 times more than the cost of purchasing the paper itself.
- Each office worker on average use about 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year.
- Going green is a proven way for businesses to save money. Consider these success stories gathered by the EPA.
- The Guardian Industries’ plant in Indiana saved almost $40,000 by switching from disposable gloves and paper towels to reusable gloves and wiping cloths.
- Prestige Cleaners in Scottsdale, Arizona saved $18,000 per year by implementing a program that encourages customers to return hangers.
- A newspaper in Minnesota realized over $20,000 in yearly savings by implementing no-cost waste reduction policies such as reusing materials.
The “Great Resignation” and tight labor market have caused companies to consider the high costs associated with employee turnover. Turns out, companies with environmental initiatives have a leg-up on their recruiting efforts.
- According to an article on FastCompany.com, 10 percent of employees would take a pay cut to work at an eco-conscious company.
- Millennials, especially, are concerned about the environment. According to one study, 64 percent of them consider an employer’s environmental impact before accepting a job.
It isn’t just candidates who flock to eco-friendly businesses. Having a strong environmental initiative will attract customers. According to Deloitte, a quarter of young adults consider a company’s environmental impact before making a purchase.
Your quest to transform your company into an environmentally responsible enterprise will require funding. Have ideas, along with projected costs, ready when you approach the executive team. Be prepared to demonstrate the value of your initiatives once they’re off the ground.
Now that you’ve received management’s blessing, it’s time to find your tribe of climate champions. Your green team will work together to develop and implement your company’s green initiatives.
- Advertise for members of your green team using posters, social media and email.
- Host an informational meeting. You’re looking for members who are committed to environmental initiatives and are able to handle extra work.
- Discuss and outline sustainability initiatives. Your initiatives will range from low-cost changes to more involved projects to employee outreach programs.
- Have a process in place for executive approval of agreed-upon initiatives.
- Assign roles, responsibilities and deadlines to green team members.
Your efforts to improve your company’s environmental impact won’t succeed without employee engagement. With leadership support in place and your green team assembled, it’s time to get your coworkers on board with new green initiatives.
- Host a monthly sustainable lunch and learn. Encourage employees to bring their lunches in reusable containers or cater lunch from an environmentally responsible restaurant. Invite sustainability experts to give presentations.
- Create contests for departments to reduce their carbon footprint. Creating a system to award points for environmentally-friendly commuting, waste-free lunches, reducing paper usage and other measurable goals.
- Create a team-building exercise with green volunteering projects, such as cleaning up parks, beautifying downtown with flowers or finding a citizen science project near you.
Get your green initiatives off the ground by implementing some easy changes in the workplace. The following tips are a great way to get results quickly while encouraging a culture of environmental responsibility.
- Print on both sides. Setting your printers on automatic duplexing can save between 30 and 50 percent of paper costs, according to the EPA. Your company can further reduce costs by setting the default print quality to draft and discouraging needless printing. Make sure you announce the printing changes before implementing them.
- Ditch the disposable kitchenware. Stock the breakroom with an inexpensive set of reusable dishes and silverware. Instruct employees to wash what they use. Better yet, install an energy-efficient dishwasher. Most importantly, create an expectation to keep the kitchen area clean.
- Decorate the office with plants. Greenery not only cleans the air but improves your office environment. Bringing in plants is a small but effective way to create a positive reaction to your sustainability projects.
- Use eco-friendly garbage bags and other products made from recycled materials. Adopting a circular economy that reuses materials is essential for a sustainable future.
Great job! You’ve done work to lay a solid foundation for furthering your company’s environmental initiatives.
You’ve convinced the executive team that going green has numerous business benefits. You’ve assembled a team of committed eco-champions as passionate about sustainability as you are. And you’ve engaged the entire workforce with fun and informational green activities.
Now you can take on bigger projects knowing that your initiative to make your workplace more eco-friendly won’t fizzle out, thanks to the infrastructure of support you’ve created.