Earth Day is annual event celebrated on April 22. This international day provides your practice the opportunity to become a green and eco-friendly office. Worldwide, more events are held to demonstrate support for the environmental protection. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now includes more than 193 countries, which are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network. By reducing energy consumption and waste, organizations of all sizes can make significant changes to take better care of the planet. There are many ways your practice can become more environmentally friendly. Being mindful of the supplies you purchase or how you deal with older electronics are just some of the ways your company can be more eco-friendly. Review our guide for suggestions on how to make your office greener.
- Go Paperless
The first step to making your office greener is changing your behaviour. There is no cost to this, but it can be the most challenging part. Start with reducing your volume of printing and adapt your practice by finding ways to go digital. Consider using group communication tools like Slack to reduce the need for printing emails. Optimized PDF apps on your office tablets and mobile apps can facilitate on-the-go document sharing. Transfer all your files to a cloud system to allow all members of your practice to have access to materials on the go without having the need to print the materials. Using a platform such as Google Drive is great to view and edit documents collectively. Paper is convenient to have, but it kills trees and is costly to both your bottom line & the environment. Consider changing your office behaviour to digital and see how much your office saves on paper, ink, and printer service costs. Save on paper by reducing the amount of printing whenever possible. Put a prominent sign up near the printer to remind staff to consider the environment before printing. Another way to go green is to buy and use recycled paper. Make sure to spread the word around the office to ensure your colleagues know their options before they begin printing.
When ordering office supplies, select the eco-friendly options products and purchase products that are made from post-consumer content (materials that have been recycled and remade into new ones) such as plastic products. Cut down or eliminate your use of products that do not have green alternatives, such as rubber bands.
At the end of the day, shut down your computers and other electronics that are not necessary to run all night, including any small appliances in your office such as coffee machines, microwaves, kettles, etc. This will help to reduce your energy consumption and your electricity bill.
Appliances that you do not use continuously through the day should remain unplugged. Consider purchasing energy efficient appliances to reduce your energy consumption such as mini and large fridges. Create a space based on necessity rather than focusing on unnecessary items.
3. Install motion-activated light switches
Motion-sensor switches will avoid the extra energy consumption that occurs when lights are left running all day. This reduces the need for constant ‘on’ and ‘off’ switches and eliminates the need for the lights being on longer than needed. In areas where motion activated lights are not feasible, replace standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED bulbs wherever possible. These use 75% less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs while delivering the same light output.
Motion sensing technology has also vastly improved; meaning there is less of a chance the lights will malfunction, increasing the benefit of installing them. Electricity itself is not necessarily harmful to the environment. It gives light, powers appliances, and even heats homes. However, the fuel required to produce the electricity can be can be detrimental to the environment, having lasting effects on the planet for years to come.
4. Use microfiber cloths, fish scrubs or brown paper towels
One area of the practice you may not realize to be wasteful is in the washroom and kitchen due to the high level of paper waste. A quick fix could be to use a high-energy efficient dryer. Dyson has many low-energy high-efficient dryers to choose from. If your practice prefers to have smaller items rather than electronic dryers, consider using post-consumer and recycle brown paper towels to be washed weekly. For cleaning products, drop the products that contain hazardous chemicals and switch to eco-friendly products. Another trick is using bleach & vinegar and cleaning with a microfiber cloth.
Whenever you can reduce the use of paper, it is optimal to use reusable items that you can continuously use, replace, and wash on a weekly basis. For coffee machines consider using biodegradable coffee filters and pods for larger machines. You can find them at multiple retailers such as: Target, Walgreens, Amazon.com, Canadian Tire, Staples, and Melitta. For the kitchen, invest in low cost utensils and plates from a local department store to reduce the use of paper and Styrofoam items; for disposable options use compostable paper plates and utensils that are now available at your local stores.
5. Implement Recycling
One easy step you can do right now is to recycle paper, plastic, metals, and foils. Ensure that in your kitchen, washroom, and other areas where high volumes of waste occur have recycling bins. Coordinate with your municipality garbage and recycling collection for easy pick-up. You can even assign this task to a colleague to ensure the proper implementation and monitoring of this initiative. This provides team spirit and unites your team under a common goal. Clients want to see the businesses they support take environmental and social measures to contribute in making their community better.
6. Turn down the air conditioning
Black outs and energy rates are increasing as the temperature rises and energy consumption increases during the hot months. Your office can reduce its reliance on its air conditioner by installing blinds to avoid heat from the sun and allow for more natural cooling in the office. Purchase large plants and place them in designated areas to better circulate air throughout the office.
We understand everyone wants to be at a comfortable during the hot summer months. However, it’s important for your office to introduce measures that will ensure balanced energy consumption year-round throughout the four seasons. During chillier days, set the thermometer at a medium warm temperature. Consider having extra sweaters at the office for staff members who may need it. There is no need to have the air condition on during the winter months. To reduce your energy consumption, consider small desk fans for those who may need additional cooling in the summertime.
7. Encourage employees to carpool or celebrate #NoCarDay
Carpooling is socially economical. Not only will you save you money, but it will also help reduce the costs we all pay towards the construction of new roads, road maintenance and air pollution related health costs. Having fewer cars on the road means reduced greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and improved air quality.
Consider a #NoCarDay on Earth Day as a fundraiser to a local charity or celebration at the company. For the money your team would spend on gas, ask them to donate to a charity of their choice or towards a collective office celebration. Even during lunch, instead of taking multiple cars, carpool together. Depending on the town or city you live in, use public transit. Encourage your practice to adopt a #NoCarDay at least one day of the week.
8. Donate old electronics
Technology is always changing and upgrading at a fast rate. As you transfer out old technology, appliances, computers, and equipment, consider donating these items to a local organization in need of such supplies. Instead of storing unused equipment in another office, recycle the items that don’t work to local telecommunication companies with recycling programs for batteries and electronics. Otherwise, make an organization truly happy by donating your older items to a staff member who could benefit from a functioning coffee machine, toaster, printer, or computer.
9. Establish a sustainability task force or green action plan
An environmental sustainability task force functions to oversee the company’s environmental activities. It focuses on ways the office can improve its environmental activities by implementing measures, activities, and changing behaviour. This tasks force could meet regularly on improvements for the practice. This will ensure that making your practice more green remains a priority and that the proper resources are allocated. The company can also create teamwork initiatives and measures towards this purpose.
Going green is really simple. You can start with selecting one of these nine areas to improve on for one month. Review the impact it has on your practice, your clients and overall well-being of your office. Taking care of the environment is a collective task. Your practice can contribute in a way that is meaningful, tangible, and applicable to your daily operations. Encourage your clients to take on one of these challenges to have more members of the community support your actions to create a greener practice.
Education is key to making greener life choices. Share this article across your social media channels for your community members to have the knowledge on how they can contribute to Earth Day. Start a dialogue across your social media with the hashtags #HappyEarthDay and #NoCarDay.
Host an Earth Day inspired party at your office and implement some of the mentioned eco-friendly options. Invite your customers as a way to get the rest of the community involved in your green initiate and watch how easy it is to enjoy yourselves while having a positive impact on the environment. Lastly, remember to plug out for one hour during Earth Day.