Quick wins to green your workplace

Whether you’re the business owner or an interested employee, it’s great for businesses to get involved in the sustainability movement. You may have read our earlier article about ways to green your office. But, how can you make sure people remember to do these things? We’ve put together some quick wins that are applicable to businesses of all sizes.

Automate Your Systems

Installing a smart thermostat to control your heating and cooling takes the pressure off any one individual remembering to turn it up or down, on or off. There are loads on the market these days and there’s a range of capabilities, including remote access, dehumidifier controls, and more. PC Mag rated the best of 2021, take a look at that article for what might be most useful in your workplace.

This also applies to lights. Make lights in particular rooms sensor operated to ensure that it doesn’t matter if someone doesn’t turn off the light when they leave the room or building. The sensor will pick that up and turn it off after a period of time. It also means that employees aren’t wandering into a dark office in the morning, the lights will pick up the movement and voila, a welcoming beacon of light for you or your employees. Basically, it takes the pressure off employees and means you aren’t losing money on unnecessary utility expenditures because someone was forgetful.

Set a Reminder

If you can’t automate, try figuring out how best to remind people to do the task. Key in this is trying to get people to remember at the point they do the behaviour. For example, in terms of remembering to turn off lights when they leave the room, put a bright, catchy reminder note at eye level near the door or beside the door handle or light switch itself. If there are a few things you need the last person to leave the building to do, for example, turn up the AC or down the heat, put an eye-catching checklist beside the main exits, or perhaps even a reminder note to appear when they shut down a computer, or an operating procedure checklist they must complete before they leave work. 

Make Things Easy

Another key consideration when it comes to encouraging employees to be sustainable is making it easy for them. The previous two points are obviously related to this point, but you can take it further, and you need to try to be clear and specific. For example, if you want to reduce waste, make sure there are recycling bins located in several convenient locations around your office (if you’re large enough to warrant that). Provide bins for the different types of recyclable products you wish to collect, with clear signage (preferably accompanied by images) showing what can and can’t go in a certain container. Separate them into items that can be recycled in various locations, e.g. paper, plastic bags or other soft plastics, batteries, light bulbs, etc, and designate yourself or someone else to take them for recycling periodically, setting up reminders in a calendar. Places like the City’s recycling depots or London Drugs recycle lots of items that aren’t commonly recycled in curbside pickups, for example, plastic bags at the depots and light bulbs and batteries at London Drugs. Or, if you’d like to encourage sustainable transport, perhaps make sure there is secure bike parking right by your workplace, and have change rooms accessible for people after their bike to work. These things make it more convenient people to take the action, reducing the barriers to participation encourages more action.

These are just some of many suggestions that you can relatively easily implement to encourage employees or co-workers to be more sustainable in the workplace. For tips on what other kinds of actions you can take to be more sustainable try the Sustainability Guide from Environment Lethbridge’s Small Business Energy Efficiency Program.

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