Our awareness of environmental issues began properly in the 1970s with the birth of organisations such as Greenpeace who, for the first time, were involved in influencing policy. Environmentalism became a social movement which gave rise to a number of NGOs who committed themselves to raising awareness of the impact we have on the planet and helped to bring about change.
As a nation, we’re getting better at being ‘green’. It’s taken some time, but with local councils making it easier for us to recycle and the national government implementing the 5p plastic bag charge, we’re becoming more aware of the small ways we can make a difference. What’s important to remember is, however small, it always helps to do our bit and contribute towards a greener culture.
More-or-less all of us perceive a tangible threat from environmental problems and feel pleased when we’re able to do something to help so why not enforce a culture of sustainability in the workplace so that an awareness of what we can do to help is fostered. This, in turn, goes beyond the workplace and into people’s homes. Here are a few things which we should all be doing for the environment:
1. Remember to turn off all the lights when exiting a room
You also might want to consider using low-wattage LEDs or installing motion detector lighting, especially if you’re in a large office. Turning the light off when you leave a room really does make a difference.
Boston University conducted a study in 2008/09 to look into their electrical consumption. Over the year, they consumed 209 million kWh of electricity which is enough to power 20,000 homes. According to the study, turning off the lights when you leave a room can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 0.15 pounds a year which means that had everyone at the university turned off one light, for one hour a day, for one year, the amount of electricity saved would be the equivalent of removing 97 cars (or over a million pounds of CO2) from the road for an entire year.
Think about how much leaving the lights on might be costing you (or your boss!). There are a number app-controlled ways to control your home remotely so that you can keep a closer eye at what you’re using. Check out Nest andHive if you’re yet to get your hands on some home-tech.
2. Computers and office equipment should always be shut down or turned off at the end of the day
Desktop computers and laptops are becoming increasingly energy-sufficient so if you’re using an older model, switching to something newer might not only improve your productivity but also, your energy bill. If you’ve already got a relatively new computer, you’ve got no excuse for not turning it off or putting it into ‘sleep’ mode. Most laptops and computers use almost the same amount of power when they’re in use as when they’re idle.
In general, laptops are a lot more efficient than desktops, but if you’re reading this off a beautiful 27-inch monitor, just remember to put it to sleep at lunch-time.
3. Buy recycled products wherever possible and encourage the use of biodegradable products such as tupperware boxes and rinsable water bottles
Most offices can achieve a recycling rate of somewhere between 60% and 70% if they operate an efficient recycling scheme for paper, glass, cardboard, cans and toner cartridges.
You might be able to recycle more than you think. Waste Electrical and Electronic equipment (WEEE) is committed to the recycling or proper disposal of electrical equipment and was set up as an EU community directive. It’s worth heading over to Wastepack to see what else you could be doing to reduce you carbon footprint.
Recycling is a long term investment at a low upfront cost. Making small changes can change the mind-set of employees which will reward you economically in the long-run.
4. Try to print double-sided wherever possible and reuse single-sided paper
How much paper do you think you waste? It’s been estimated that as much as 4% of turnover might be being wasted which is money you could be investing into a marvellous new coffee machine!
Offices which make a conscious effort to prevent waste tend to get through seven reams of paper per employee per year. If a ream costs £2 and each employee gets through seven reams a year, we’re not talking big bucks, but what about if you’ve got 100 employees? If half of the paper being printed is printed double-sided, that’s an easy saving of £350. That’s a decent contribution towards the office party!
Wrap have produced a very handy PDF on office waste if you’re interested in reading a bit more, but don’t print it off if it’s not absolutely necessary. How much do you print that could be read online?
5. Make recycling bins as accessible as general waste bins
I hate to admit it, but I know I’ve popped something in a general waste bin which could have been recycled had I had the patience to wait and find a recycling bin. We’ve all done it, but the best way of preventing it is to make sure there’s always a recycling bin next to general waste bins.
You can get your hands on a set of 5 recycling bins for as little as £35 and it sends a great message to everyone working in the office. These bins not only recycle, but are recycled!
6. Put a bike rack at a convenient and safe location to encourage people to use greener modes of transportation
Thinking about cycling to work instead of piling into the tube with 4 million others? Check out the government’scycle to work scheme. Not only is it good for the environment, but it’s also an easy way of squeezing some exercise into a busy schedule.
Commuting costs almost twice as much in London as it does in the rest of the UK. According to a survey conducted by Nutmeg, a Londoner who starts working at the age of 18 and retires at 65 could spend as much as £66,000 on commuting over the course of their working life. If that’s not a reason to ‘get on yer bike’ I don’t know what is!
7. Build up an ethic of sustainability by ordering Fairtrade and Organic produce
If you’re trying to build up an office culture which holds sustainability close to its heart, buying produce which has been ethically sourced and organically produced is a wise move. We’re fortunate that organic and Fairtrade produce is more accessible now than it’s ever been.
When you buy Fairtrade produce, you know that the producers are getting a fair deal. You also know that certain guidelines are being met to ensure that everyone is getting a fair deal, including you. Buying sustainable produce inspires an ethic of compassion which will rub off on everyone in the office.
Here at Honest Coffees HQ we only sell Fairtrade speciality coffee.
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