If you want to be more eco conscious in 2020, Big Energy Saving Week is designed to keep you focused. Although the event, which started on Monday and runs until tomorrow, makes us think of what we can do in the home, we can also apply better eco credentials to the workplace.
Facilities and office managers are the obvious drivers of professional eco change but don’t underestimate employee power. Collective voices can alter the direction a company is travelling in so if you feel strongly enough about energy saving, and have like-minded colleagues, why not start a movement for change? Here are seven ideas you can propose or adopt:
- Install lockers, showers and bike racks – Cycling is far kinder to the environment than driving and many are tempted to take the two-wheeled commuter option thanks to improving cycle lanes. What deters people, however, are workplaces with a lack of cyclist-friendly facilities. Lockers, showers and secure bike storage will encourage workers to saddle up, with these facilities also appealing to those who run to and from work.
- Opt for hybrid and electric cars – If your business has pool or company cars, you can cut emissions by switching to hybrid or all electric options. The Ultra Low Company initiative is aimed at encouraging UK businesses to embrace electric vehicles, with Microsoft UK, University of Birmingham and the London Fire Brigade among the first to be awarded ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status.
- Be appliance smart – Offices across the UK are crammed full of appliances, from photocopiers and printers to computer monitors and coffee machines. In 2019, McDonalds started to use more energy efficient appliances to cut energy wastage by 25% and workplaces can follow suit. Efforts can be as simple as turning off items rather than leaving them on standby and recycling broken electronics to replacing all items with the latest energy efficient versions and installing motion-sensor lights to cut the drain on the National Grid.
- Give staff a green kit – The mantra ‘reuse, reduce, recycle’ can be helped along by employers. A green kit should be issued to all workers, with the aim of encouraging a more eco lifestyle both at home and in the office. You could include items such as a refillable water bottle, a re-usable shopping bag and coffee cup, a set of bamboo cutlery, LED light bulbs and a solar USB charger.
- Overhaul the stationary cupboard – Did you know forests the size of 90 tennis courts are cut down every minute to supply wood to make wooden pencils? To combat this, you can buy recycled pencils, along with biodegradable pens made from renewable material, compostable packing materials and tape, wooden paperclips and staple-free staplers that cut down on metal manufacturing. It goes without saying, printers and photocopies should run on recycled paper.
- Reduce plastic reliance – Plastic is not fantastic. Big names including Asda, Costa Coffee and Evian are doing more to reduce their reliance on plastic and it is possible for your office to significantly reduce plastic use. In addition to incorporating some of the ideas above, employers can: ban the use of disposable plastic cups and bottles; replace water coolers with a mains-fed filtered drinking water system and water fountains; provide more plastic recycling points; buy milk in glass bottles; use refillable soap dispensers and cleaning products; request zero plastic packaging when ordering online and carry out a waste audit.
- Start an office garden – All you need is enough space for a few pots and a watering can (a water butt or grey water recycling is even better), and you’re ready to grow your own. Cutting down on air miles and packaging can be achieved with a few pots by the front door to grow tomatoes and strawberries. No outside space? No problem! There are a variety of edible items you can grown in pots on window sills, such as herbs, salad leaves, chillies and cress. Or why not install a vertical living wall?