A great place to start implementing an environmentally-friendly workplace is a recycling program. It's likely that the focus of a recycle/reuse program will be paper products, but it’s also important to recycle printer cartridges, office electronics, food containers, cans, bottles and plastic bags.
A recent study by Xerox showed that 45% of the paper printed in offices ends up in the trash by the end of the day. This less-than-one day lifespan is the fate of a trillion sheets of paper per year, worldwide. The cumulative cost is staggering. Keep in mind that a “paperless office” won’t develop naturally as a result of electronic copies and communications; reducing your workplace’s impact will take effort. A sound paper policy is built on three basic principles: using less paper, recycling paper and buying environmentally preferable paper such as recycled or FSC-certified.
Consider conducting a water audit that analyzes your facility’s water use and identifies opportunities to make it more efficient. A water audit of your office building will include a review of domestic, sanitary and landscaping processes and can sometimes be performed for free by your utilities company. Water audits can also be performed by a hired contractor. Try consulting the American Water Works Association website before hiring a contractor, or your Green Team can use free water audit software from the AWWA.
You don't have to put solar panels on your roof to support renewable energy. More and more businesses are now purchasing green power or renewable energy credits (RECs) through their regular utility or another provider. In some cases, these options could even be cheaper than your regular utility! Companies that purchase renewable energy often advertise their involvement in such programs by putting a banner on their building, an icon on their website or a blurb in other marketing materials. It's a great way to generate good vibes around your sustainability efforts while increasing the amount of clean energy on our grid. Check out some companies that are already using green power, then search for providers in your state.
Roughly 50% of U.S. office workers leave their computers on at night. That's wasting $2.8 billion and emitting 20 million tons of carbon dioxide each year! If your IT department implemented power management software such as NightWatchman, Greentrac or Verdiem, it would allow them to manage the power settings of every computer in the office. This takes the burden off individual users and lets the company power down all computers at once.
Investing in employees, the most valuable resource of any company, always pays dividends. Environmentally-conscious business practices help attract and retain the best employees by increasing satisfaction and pride in the workplace. EarthShare offers several programs that can help you engage your employees around sustainability:
Offering the EarthShare workplace giving program is a benefit that gives every environmentally-conscious employee the chance to support hundreds of vetted environmental charities through an easy and effective workplace payroll contribution campaign. EarthShare participates in campaigns at hundreds of public and private sector workplaces across the country.
We run regular Green Team Forums in locations around the country to support company green team leaders in spurring sustainable change in their organizations.
Sponsoring an EarthShare Impact Award allows employers to get feedback on environmental issues that matter to their employees and generate excitement around supporting specially chosen charities.
- Create a Workplace Recycling Program, Earth911
- Innovation Exchange: Manage your water resources, Environmental Defense*
- Increasing Paper Efficiency, Environmental Paper Network
- Smart Paper Policies are Good for Business, Natural Resources Defense Council*
- Simple Ways to Reduce Office Paper Waste and Make Better Use of the Paper You Need, Natural Resources Defense Council*
- Shortening the Paper Trail, EarthShare
- 7 Free Tools to Green Your Business
- The Paperless Office, EarthShare
- BYO Flatware for a Green Workplace, EarthShare
- Don't Pollute - Telecommute, EarthShare
- Green Your Commute, EarthShare
- Green company cars for all employees, Environmental Leader
- Greening the Office Cleaners, EarthShare
- Green IT: Do it for the money, if nothing else, CNet News
- Bring your green to work, Energy Star
- Environmental Workplace Giving, EarthShare
* EarthShare member organization