If you've been thinking about the benefits of taking an eco-friendly approach to your work environment, then you've probably considered how much it can save your company in dollars every year. You've probably also considered how the initial startup costs will quickly pay for themselves. You also know that your clients will be pleased to discover you care for the environment, and they'll tell other potential clients who will be eager to do business with a company that cares about sustainability. That brings you to the biggest benefit of all: Taking steps to preserve the valuable resources and oxygen that sustain life on earth.
The reasons for taking a sustainable approach to your work environment are many. Here's how you get started.
1. Assess the Situation
Take a look at your work environment and see what can be done differently. Is electricity being wasted anywhere? Do lights stay on in rooms that aren't occupied? Perhaps you could install sensors so once the room is vacated the lights power off. Could some of your electricity come from sustainable sources? The best solar panels will cut down on the energy that comes from fossil fuels.
2. Don't Do It Alone
While you may be the one with the great idea of making your work environment green, you can't do it alone. It will take the buy-in of everyone who works with you on a daily basis. Form a green team. Together, meet regularly; either once a week, or once a month. Brainstorm and come up with solutions to your greatest issues.
3. Start Small
You won't be able to change everything over night, no matter how eager you are. You can start with the obvious changes that need to be made, such as starting a recycling center. Have bins for plastics and bins for paper. Decide who will deliver the bins to the recycling center once they are full.
Another easy change to make is purchasing dishes for the kitchen area. Providing actual silverware and ceramic dishes will deter employees from bringing paper and plastic wares on site. Discuss the benefits of bringing reusable drinking cups versus paper, or even worse, water bottles.
As the small changes start taking place, get feedback from employees and gauge how they are responding to the changes. They may offer ideas on how some things can be done better. Take those ideas and present them to the green team.
4. Prepare Everyone Before Changes
Some changes will take more planning than others. Big changes will take time to implement, and people will need to be prepared.
It's likely your workplace will decide to store and file everything digitally instead of using paper. This will take some adjusting, and some employees will have to learn new skills. Allow time for these learning curves. You can't go digital overnight, but set a date and see what needs to be met prior to the deadline.
5. Support Other Sustainable Companies
It might seem small, but you can make a big impact by supporting companies just like yours. That doesn't mean the same industry. It means companies that care about the environment. Work with vendors who openly show their support to sustainable practices. Consider the company where you purchase your cleaning supplies. Also, what about your office supplies?
Does your company purchase materials for manufacturing? And does the manufacture of these materials create emissions or leave a carbon footprint? If something you create utilizes plastic, what could you use in place of the plastic? This is where the changes you're striving to make can create challenges, but they are good challenges to have. When you find a solution, you are paving the way for other companies to follow the same path.
Switching to a work environment that is making every effort to perform their daily tasks sustainably will present challenges. It will also unite your workplace in their efforts for a common good. Don't give up, as there are always new advancements in sustainable practices, and you have the potential to lead the way.