The average American worker will spend 20-30% of their adult life at work. Considering all of that time and the resources we put into our work, sustainability efforts at the office can have a tremendous impact. Environmental awareness should be an important part of every company’s corporate social responsibility strategy. What better month than April – with the 39th celebration of Earth Day coming up on Monday, April 22nd – to review ways in which you can more effectively “green” your office?
Did you know that the average office worker will use 10,000 sheets of paper every year? Considering that some studies have shown that nearly 30% of print jobs aren’t even collected from the printer, it becomes clear that even a small amount of effort to print less can have a big impact. Persuade your employees to think twice before printing and take advantage of electronic alternatives when it comes to sharing documents and reports. If you must print something, be sure to print on both sides of the sheet of paper.
At Dominion Payroll we have spearheaded an effort to promote the electronic distribution of pay stubs and W-2s for all of our clients. In the last two years we have reduced the number of printed W-2s (and all the miles it takes to deliver them) by over 50,000 pieces of paper!
Encourage employees that live near each other to carpool to work even if it’s just one day per week. In addition to taking vehicles off the road, limiting the parking burden around your business, and reducing carbon emissions, your employees will have a welcome opportunity to build relationships with their coworkers. Offering employees the opportunity and flexibility to work remotely also has the benefit of removing cars from the streets. Plus, several studies have shown that workers are more productive when working from home!
If your office has a wellness program, what better way to incorporate fitness and the environment than encouraging folks to bike to work? Dominion Payroll has incorporated cycling into our corporate culture by purchasing four office bikes for employees to grab and use when going out for lunch or an after-work happy hour in the neighborhood.
In The Kitchen
We all love a good office birthday party or team-building lunch-and-learn. Whether it’s birthday cake or leftover sandwiches, there always seems to be a little extra food around the office. Try to reduce the amount of food waste your office generates by having some reusable storage containers on hand and learn to love the leftovers!
While the upfront cost is more than that of disposables, investing in a set of reusable dishes for the office will save you money in the long run. Coaxing employees to bring their own coffee cup and water bottle will make a dent in the nearly 500 disposable coffee cups and 130 plastic water bottles that don’t get recycled by the typical office worker every year.
In an effort to reduce the amount of single-use waste we are generating at Dominion Payroll, we recently switched to coffee machines whose packaging is recyclable and the single-serving coffee packets are completely biodegradable. There are also services around the country that will specifically recycle single-serve coffee pods for machines like Keurig.
Somebody’s going to have to clean up after all those cups of coffee and office lunches. Another way to help your office go green is to invest in eco-friendly cleaning supplies. From biodegradable degreasers to natural dish soaps, the green cleaning industry has an ever-increasing number of products that are better for the environment and less harsh on employees’ overall health.
The switch to LED lighting in American homes and offices has been a massive success in the past few years. And why not? For prices comparable to traditional incandescents, LED lights consume 25-80% less electricity and last up to 25 times longer. Installing motion-activated light switches in rooms like supply closets and bathrooms is a great way to make sure you aren’t needlessly wasting electricity as well.
The heat created and energy consumed by computers and monitors sitting idly all night can be massive. Encourage employees to turn off their computers fully at the end of the day in order to conserve electricity and even lower your office’s utility bill every month.
There are so many ways that you can make a change for the better in and around your office. Without taking a big bite out of your office budget, just a few, small changes can make a big impact over the course of a year. These are just a few of our favorite suggestions for making every day Earth Day at your workplace. What are some green efforts or initiatives that you’ve undertaken at your office? Let us know in the comments below.
Photos by Ryan Tagg