Simple ways to green your office

Today we’re looking at ways to make our workplace greener since it’s where most of us spend ⅓ of our time every week day. So any actions that are made here will make a big difference in the long run! And while we certainly have more control over our choices at home, being at the forefront of sustainable action in your workplace may garner some attention and even encourage more action from co-workers and supervisors.  

Although each business varies in the kinds of waste that it creates, there are the areas that most have in common: paper, energy, water.

Paper

It’s easy to say that going paperless is one way to save lots of resources, but it’s a bit easier said than done. So here are a few ideas of where to start. 

Begin with service and product suppliers and ask them to switch to electronic invoices. When the invoices are received, make sure to keep an organized filing system for them with folders for each company or folders for incoming, processing, and paid invoices. Label each invoice in a way that will easily identify it without having to open it (an example: company it’s from, date received, date paid). Chat with the accounting department and see what kind of system they would prefer, hopefully they will love this change too!

Similarly, try to transition to only sending electronic invoices and statements. Begin by sending out a letter to your clients notifying them of the future change and the reason why you’re transitioning. If you’re worried about their reaction, give them the option of continuing to receive paper copies. 

Set a limit on how much everyone is allowed to print. Discuss this with your supervisor and show them the potential cost savings of implementing such a change. Begin by tracking how much the company spends on paper, toner (you may be surprised at what a huge expense this is!), and repairs on equipment each month. Then show the potential savings of 

Implement alternatives to paper. One of the reasons why we print documents is to sign them before passing them on. An alternative to printing and signing, is to use programs like Acrobat Adobe that allow you to digitally view and sign documents. 

Reuse paper. Rather than throwing away or recycling paper right away, give it one more use by keeping a scraps bin where old papers can be tossed. Use the empty side of these papers to jot down notes, scribbles, or sketches rather than using up a whole new piece of paper.

Hire a Recycling company. Lethbridge has gotten a lot better at providing recycling resources, but if your office is using a lot more than can be dealt with, check out these local recycling companies to get some help

Energy

Cutting back on energy use is another way to not only save the company a bit of coin but also reduce emissions. 

Turn off lights at night. This is a no brainer but it can be a bit of a hassle if everyone enters and leaves the office at different times. So talking to the maintenance department about the possibility of setting an automatic timer for the office light so that it comes on and turns off at set times each day. Maybe it’ll remind employees that it’s time to take a break for the day and head home. 

Install motion sensor lights. For areas like bathrooms, boardrooms, and even hallways that aren’t always in regular use, it could be worth it to install motion sensor lights rather than lights that are constantly on. Contact a local electrical company to get a quote and estimate of the energy savings that this installation could bring. 

Turn down the A/C. Offices are often overzealous with the temperature during summer months and employees are stuck wearing winter office clothes all year long. While it’s definitely not ideal to be uncomfortably warm, turning up the temperature a degree or two will keep the air conditioner from kicking in as often and avoid unnecessary energy use.

Turn off computers at night. Many people simply put their devices to sleep at the end of the work day instead of powering them off. Check with your IT department, if you have one, before encouraging everyone to power their computers down at the end of the day.

Water

Install Point of Use water stations. Does your office still use those water stations with the big jugs that you have to hoist up awkwardly and then plop it down carefully onto the little spout sticking up in the middle? They are the worst! Not only are they heavy and awkward to maneuver, but they also require a lot more resources to bottle and transport them in. Chat with your office manager about getting a point of use system that brings water straight from the plumbing, filters and cools it. It can be a bit of a hefty upfront cost, but showing the long term savings may peak their interest. Or, if that’s not an option, for a smaller office, keep a water jug with a filter in the fridge for fresh, cold water.

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