How to Go Green in the Office
A lot of us spend so much time in an office during the day, therefore it's important to go green at work!
We spend so much of our time in the office; so to live a sustainable life, it's essential to go green at the workplace! I've even made a few of my previous workplaces green by initiating and implementing sustainability policies, so from my experiences here are some tips!
To go green in your office, or anywhere really, you need to apply the principle of the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. Read on to see how you can apply the 3 Rs into your office.
1. Try to purchase eco-friendly furniture or office supplies. Either the item should be recyclable, or it is made up of natural biodegradable material or at least made up of recycled materials. Eco-friendly furniture is made up of FSC wood, or bamboo or rubber wood.
2. Use cleaning products made of natural ingrediants. By doing this, you can reduce the toxins in waste water leaving your office premises. Another advantage is that these biodegradable eco-cleaning products will be free from VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and therefore good for human health.
3. Sharing stationary items like a calculator, stapler or electronic equipment like a printer or scanner is a great way or reducing and buying less.
4. You can reuse and repurpose some items. For instance, a broken cup as a pen holder, or packaging boxes to keep documents or office supplies, and mint tins for paperclips. If you repurpose items creatively after their use, you can stop buying new stationary storage items.
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1. Buy eco-friendly papers like ex. FSC certified or made from recycled paper.
2. Try to go as paperless as you can; you can set a paperless system in your office, and file everything digitally. If that's not possible, then print and photocopy less.
3. Print and photocopy on both sides of the paper.
4. Develop online reading skills. Many people print out articles just to read it. I personally don't buy printed newspapers, and read everything online.
5. If you find papers with one black side, but for some reason cannot use the other side for printing, save those papers! You can write on them, or take notes or you can even give those papers to kids to do their homework or drawing.
6. Recycle all paper. Have a paper recycling bin and contact local recycling companies, or paper mills, to have your recyclable papers collected at regular intervals.
7. Instead of having a tissue box on every table and lots of tissues in the office pantry or handwash area, reintroduce old-fashioned napkins. Every employee can bring their own napkin and then wash it at home once dirty.
Dining and Coffee
1. Try avoiding disposable cups for water and coffee. Keep your water bottle and coffee mug in the office, that way we can consume less toxins and help the environment, too.
2. Packing your lunch to the office in a microwavable dish is a great way to stay healthy. You can keep a set of reusable cutleries and a plate in your office drawer, too, to avoid using paper plates at an office party or meeting.
3. You can even gift your colleagues with reusable cups and bottles to help spread the message of a green office.
1. Locate any water leakage in the office, and report it so that maintenance can come to repair it immediately to prevent further water wastage.
2. If you have a half-used bottle of water lying around the office, use it to water the plants.
1. Every office should have separate bins for recyclables like paper, cardboard, glass, plastic, aluminum, plastic pens, batteries, printer cartridge etc.
2. Contact locay recyclers to arrange to pick up all recyclables in your office on a regular interval.
1. Use high efficiency, long life LED lights in your office. It consumes lesser energy.
2. Buy Energy Star certified appliances for your office like screens, laptops, fridge, microwave, air conditioners. These appliances use less energy.
3. Use daylight and switch off the lights. You can change layout of workspace in your office to get maximum daylight for each desk. In many offices windows are covered with blinds all the time during day. In peak summer there can be glare problem, but rest of year you can use daylight most of the office time. This won’t just save energy, but will increase efficiency of employees if they have access to outdoor views.
4. Don’t use air-conditioning in winter, open the office windows.
5. In summer set thermostat on 24 degrees and encourage your employees/colleagues to dress according to weather condition. Layering yourself in a suite and keeping AC on 18 degrees is not cool!
6. Please turn off lights after you go; specially in spaces like toilets, pantry. Same applies to AC.
7. To save electricity, put laptops, computers, printers, copiers and fax machines in standby or sleep mode after about 15 minutes of inactivity. The shorter the period, the more energy is saved.
8. During lunchtime, tea-coffee breaks, meetings turn off lights and A\Cs of your workplace.
9. Make your websites green. Background black and text white. If background is black, it consumes less energy.
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10. Every day before leaving for home, checkout you have switched off all equipments you use.
11. Whenever possible, instead of taking elevators use stairs. You will save energy and have exercise too!
1. Sharing cars with co-workers staying nearby is very sustainable. You directly reduce the carbon emission in air by car sharing. I have shared a car while working in Abu Dhabi. You can use everyone’s car alternately or share fuel price.
2. Use public transport. After having fantastic metro system in place in Dubai, many people are using public transport. My husband goes the extra mile to commute sustainably. When he is going to Dubai office, he cycles for about 10 minutes to the metro station. Then takes the metro, as the station is next to his office building. I am proud of his efforts. Around the world you can see so many executives riding in their office attires in CBDs of big cities.
3. If you are lucky and your office is nearby, please walk. It’s good for environment and good for your health too.
4. If you can’t commute to your office without your car, think of buying hybrid or electric car
1. Use posters like this in your desk, notice board or above your desk to spread the word.
2. Arrange team building ecofriendly activities like tree planting, nature trail, beach clean up campaign
3. If you come across any skeptic collogue or unaware office boy, use the opportunity to make them eco aware in right way.
4. Use your signature in email to spread the word.
About the Author
Amruta Kshemkalyani, I am basically a mechanical engineer turned sustainability professional based in Dubai. I have been working in construction industry in middle east region, specifically on Green Building projects as a sustainability consultant. Now I am a sustainability blogger and stay at home mother. I am writing this blog, 'Green Living in Dubai
' since 2009, after realizing the need of sustainability awareness amongst society. I write on my blog about how to make our home eco-friendly, eco DIYs, how to live healthy and ecofriendly and how can we raise an environmentally aware generation right from the start. I do lots of eco-activities with my toddler. Also I like to write about local environment and conservation efforts as well as our eco-travels. I have dedicated a section for eco products and services available locally to provide my readers a collective information about sustainable living.