In 2018, sustainability and green living is becoming more important and more prominent in all of our lives- I think that we can all agree that we need to do what we can to help this planet of ours. I find that a lot of tips and advice is geared to going green at home on a personal level, but there is far less out there on what you can do to be more green at the office. This is a handy guide on what you can do as an individual to go green and sustainable at work!
A lot of companies have recycling and sustainability policies; the university that I work at has a sustainability office that specifics to make campus as a whole more green! However, even at companies that are working to be more green, a lot of it comes down to what we as individuals are willing to do. Given that most of us spend 30-40 hours a week (or more) at work, what you do at work can really make a difference. And that becomes even more true because seeing you do these things may convince others to also look at how they are using resources!
1) Keep Your Electronics in Check
I know that a lot of offices use power bars like there is no tomorrow- you get a power bar and you get a power bar and you get a power bar! Those power bars suck energy like it is going out of style, though. Figure out what electronics you actually need to do your job, and what needs to be plugged in/turned on all of the time, not which are easiest to leave plugged in. (Is there a larger printer that you could use so that you don’t need to use your smaller desk printer? [Note, I didn’t ask if it was as convenient…]) Your cell phone doesn’t need to be charging all of the time (I am bad for that one), and your computer doesn’t need to stay on all night long. Pay attention to just how much electricity you are using and be aware!
2) Recycle and Trash Appropriately
Look at everything you use and consume during a work day- do you actually dispose of it as it should be? Do you recycle every single piece of paper you use? Every plastic bottle? Every paper coffee cup? Do you correctly dispose of food waste- either in the trash or composting bins if available? This goes for everywhere in your life, but make sure you are disposing of everything in the right place. Mixing things into the recycling bin that shouldn’t be recycled only makes it more difficult for recycling plants, and trying to recycle items that still have food in them may mean that the item can’t be recycled at all. And make sure to look into the paper waste that you have from your actual work- some papers are coated and can’t actually be recycled. Use garbage/trash and recycling bins appropriately!
3) Stop Printing Everything
This is probably the most obvious tip on my list, but it is 2018, you do not need to print every single thing you read. A lot of people have those “remember the environment, think before printing” bit in their signature but that really doesn’t stop anyone from what I have seen- people are still going to print it. Ask if your company does any sort of electronic record keeping- keeping paper records are arduous and a lot of companies are moving to e-storage for their records. Even if they don’t, only print things that actually NEED to be filed and kept; stop printing things to keep a pile of to-dos or to remind yourself of something. If it is to do with reading on a computer screen, there are a few things that you can do: play with screen brightness, contrast, and colour, speak to your optometrist about different glasses, and speak to your office about potentially getting a different monitor. THINK OF THE TREES!
4) PAPER TOWELS ARE THE ENEMY
Okay, that may have been a tad dramatic, but the amount of paper towels that people use at work is atrocious. I’m not a fan of most hand dryers, because they don’t dry your hands quite frankly (even with the most vigorous hand motions accompanying), and there’s not much evidence that they aren’t blowing bacteria onto your hands. (The Dyson Airblade is amazing, but they aren’t everywhere.) This video clearly and easily shows you how to dry your hands completely with only one standard paper towel, and is one of my favourite TED talks ever- enjoy!
5) Eliminate Your Beverage and Food Waste
I think that beverage waste in particular is one of the biggest issues in going green at work- how many people stop on the way to work every day at Tim Hortons or Starbucks or McDonalds for coffee/ tea/ insert fancy beverage of your choosing, and then have to throw out or recycle a cup? It’s time that we are all over and done with single use cups, folks! In January I decided that I would not buy a beverage unless I had a travel mug/reusable cup with me, and so far, I have only broken that resolution three times. A lot of coffee shops will even give a discount for using your own mug, if you needed monetary incentive! I know that a lot of people will say that that means that you have to make sure you have it washed so it is ready to go for the next day and that is just another thing to remember, to which I say… yes. The planet is dying at a fairly fast speed, so if having to remember to wash a travel mug each night is the height of your green difficulty, I think you are doing quite alright! Cut out the disposable cups and bring your own mug!
What do you do to be green at work? Does your company/ office have any sustainability policies?