The eco-friendly movement is gaining traction as more people are becoming aware of the importance of protecting our environment. While many of us are getting better at this in our personal lives, office spaces often remain significant sources of toxins and pollutants, excess landfill waste, and high levels of energy consumption. You spend a lot of your time at work – the average person will spend about a third of their life there (yikes). Why not use that time to do some good by encouraging more eco-friendly behaviours among your colleagues? Perhaps start by eliminating the ultimate office environment offender – the disposable coffee cup. An estimated 295 million disposable cups are used every year, and that’s just in New Zealand!

There are many ways to help reduce the carbon footprint of your office and create a more eco-friendly and clean workplace. You can do this by rethinking how you use certain products, changing how you do your office cleaning, and spreading awareness with your co-workers. Take a look at our tips below for more information on how to create a clean, green office.

Start an awareness campaign

Get together with a few of your colleagues or staff members and start up an awareness campaign. This is a fun way to get everyone involved and thinking about eco-friendly office habits. You could run lunchtime information sessions and put up a few posters reminding people of easy ways to reduce, re-use, and recycle. Regular challenges are a great way to keep people invested in the sustainability movement, and encourage some friendly office competition! See who can go the longest without throwaway coffee cups or plastic cutlery. You could have small prizes like food or drink vouchers, or even reusable coffee cups to encourage more good work!

Another good thing to promote is environmentally conscious commuting. You could facilitate a carpooling programme to connect people who drive to and from the same places every day. Encourage the use of walking and cycling for those who live close to the office, and public transport for those who are a bit further away.

Keep eco-friendly behaviours at the front of everyone’s minds with a regular email newsletter. Put a sign up list in the kitchen or another shared space for anyone who wants to receive it. You could include different sustainable living tips and updates on your office campaign, and encourage other people to contribute ideas to keep it fresh and engaging. There will also be sustainability events and info sessions happening around your community, so keep an eye out for these and get a group of your co-workers to go together. You might find some new ideas to implement in your office, and get a chance to share your own!

Consider how you use your space

If your office space is set up inefficiently, it could be getting in your way of having a truly eco-friendly workplace. Have a look at the location of your desks and other working spaces. Are you making the most of natural light sources? If your work areas are located in dark corners and shady spots, you are probably relying too much on electricity for artificial lighting.

Is your office too big for the amount of staff you have? You could potentially be heating and illuminating space that you don’t even need. More and more organisations are reducing core staff numbers due to remote working arrangements and more efficient office technologies, which are in turn reducing their dependence on inhouse people-power. If you are an owner or manager and this is the case for your workplace, you could consider moving to a smaller office to cut down your energy use.

You can reduce your electricity consumption by turning off electronics when they aren’t in use, or replacing old appliances with more energy efficient options.  Use the energy-saving settings on all office computers, which will turn the monitors off after periods of inactivity. Traditional light bulbs can be replaced with more efficient ones, and you can encourage staff to turn off the lights in meeting rooms when they aren’t in use. 

Use eco-friendly office and cleaning products

The products that you use around the office can also be a detriment to the environment. Choose recycled printer and copy paper, and reuse the second side of old paper for printing notes or draft documents. You can also buy eco-friendly printer inks that are made using less toxic ingredients. These are better for the health of your staff, too. Refillable ink cartridges are another option for cutting down office waste. Many printers also have a “draft” print option, which uses less ink and extends the life of your cartridges.

Avoid providing one-use products for your staff, like plastic cutlery or throwaway plates and cups. If your bathrooms have disposable paper towels, consider investing in energy-efficient hand driers. In the kitchen, you could opt for more eco-friendly bamboo or sugarcane paper towels.

Spraying with eco friendly cleaning products

Your office cleaning products can also be replaced with eco-friendly alternatives. Consider organic or toxin-free surface sprays, dish liquid, or dishwashing powders and tablets. You can have a clean office and a clean conscience! Of course, if you’re considering getting someone else to do all the cleaning, you should know that Crewcare takes pride in making sure our cleaning practices are environmentally friendly. Here are a few of the ways in which Crewcare promotes an eco-friendly and clean workplace:

  • Using green cleaning products
  • Reducing use of water
  • Microfibre cleaning techniques which reduce the use of chemicals
  • Fully supporting our clients’ initiatives with recycling
  • Encouraging the use of compostable rubbish bags and bin liners

Rethink waste management

Make sure your office is being smart about waste disposal. You should set up recycling and organics disposal as well as regular rubbish bins, which will significantly reduce your contribution to landfill. Encourage reducing and reusing – do you really need plastic cups at the water cooler or bottled water in the vending machine? As long as there are drinking glasses and mugs available in the kitchen, you really don’t need the heavy reliance on disposable plastic. You can always make sure your commercial cleaners are aware so that you have clean dishes at all times.

Use paper less, or go completely paperless!

It is possible to considerably reduce your paper use with a few simple changes. First, check how your documents are formatted – are they using the paper efficiently? Things like margin and font size can be decreased to make better use of paper, and you should utilise the double-sided print option to literally halve your paper consumption. Are you using paper for things you don’t really need to? As we work in highly digital environments, we can easily work with PDFs and other electronic documents. This is a great option for things like manuals and policies, or staff training resources that would traditionally take up hundreds of printed pages.

This article is included in Twinkl's Eco-Friendly and Sustainability campaign and is part of their article Some great ideas to be more sustainable in 2021.