So you’ve overhauled your life, stopped buying anything that comes wrapped in plastic, you get all your veg from a local organic market and who knows what else.
You’re feeling good about your eco-friendly home and now you’re attention has shifted to your company. What can you do? It was hard enough to get four people in a house on board so how are you going to convince your staff?
Thankfully you’ve done the hard work and research already: you’ve got your house in check and your office is much the same but just on a bigger scale. I know it can be daunting so here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Drop the plastic
We’re all well aware of the impact that plastic has on the environment. It’s not only used to package food and just about everything else that you buy but there’s also microplastics in your toiletries and, believe it or not, your clothes. It’s estimated that every person in the EU is responsible for 31kg of plastic every year. So how does your company go about ridding itself of it?
Spend a bit of time thinking about where you use plastic the most and you’ll soon discover that it’s most likely the water coolers. You load them up with a giant plastic bottle and people queue up to dispense tiny plastic cups of water for themselves multiple times a day. Good news though. You can revamp your cooler setup while saving money in the long run.
First, do away with the big bottle in favour of a cooler that’s hooked up to the mains via a water filter. This change can save you money on bottled water as well as reducing your plastic usage.
Once you’ve done that you can swap the cups for compostable ones or you can get your staff to swap over to reusable water bottles, eliminating the need for cups altogether. You could even provide them with branded ones if you’re feeling extra generous.
Not only are pesticides bad for the earth but they’re bad for humans as well. It’s not much of a surprise though when you consider their purpose: we release pesticides on our crops with the sole intention of killing living things. These toxic chemicals then work their way into the ecosystem, making their way back to us in ways we could never have imagined.
What can you do within your business to counteract that? If your office always has fresh fruit and other snacks available for staff, then organic alternatives are the way to go. After that you’ll need to think about your canteen. Does your current caterer offer an organic option and, if not, would they be open to working with you to develop a more earth conscious menu for you and your staff?
Going deeper still you can start to think about clothing. Non organic cotton accounts for 16% of the world’s pesticides every year. If your employees wear a uniform of any description think about going organic the next time you’re due to make an order. This is a bit of a two for one deal: a 100% organic cotton T-shirt not only reduces pesticides but microplastics too!
Think about your energy consumption
We’ve made such big leaps with renewable energy over the last few years that there’s really no reason you shouldn’t be with a provider that gets all their energy from renewable sources. Renewable energy currently accounts for 26% of the global market and that’s only expected to grow over the next few years so now is your chance to get on board early.
Once you’ve sorted out how your power is generated you need to think about how much of it you’re using. Does everything in your office need to be plugged in all the time? Something as simple as having your staff shut down and unplug their computers and switching off the lights every evening will have a huge impact on your energy consumption. Thinking about your heating can also do a lot, have it set to a reasonable level all year round rather than having it ice-cold in the summer and sweltering during the winter.
Lastly on the energy front is transport. We all know that cars are terrible for the environment but sometimes they seem completely unavoidable, especially if the office is outside of the city. Ideally everyone would either take public transport or cycle to work but failing that, you could encourage them to try ride sharing instead. Rush hour is well known as being pretty bad where pollution is concerned so the more cars you can get off the road the better.
Start a dialogue, share your passion
This is perhaps the most important tip of all. Show your staff that you’re passionate about making the right choices and they won’t be able to help but share your feelings. Being eco-conscious is a lifestyle decision that more people are turning to so it’s quite likely that they’ve already made changes at home already. Taking steps towards being a more eco friendly workplace is no minor task. If you make everybody feel like they’re involved it’ll not only be better for the environment but for your team as well.
The world as we know it couldn’t exist without the free exchange of information and there’s no reason that your business should be any different. You’re the leader, staff look to you for guidance so it’ll be up to you to show them what they need to do.
You could send out memos, hold seminars and even host brainstorming sessions where staff are encouraged to put their own ideas forward. You’ll know what approach works best with your people but the key here is in empowering them to make the right decisions.
Whether you change your electricity supplier and reduce how much power you use or if you go organic the next time you’re due a new batch of T-shirts, these 4 simple yet effective ideas will send you on your way towards running a greener business. It’s not guaranteed to be an easy road but it will definitely be a rewarding one.
It might seem like an uphill battle at first but once you manage to put the systems in place and make sure that everybody in the company is on board you’ll no doubt be able to achieve great things together.