Sustainability is one of the biggest concerns of the decade; people are making more environmentally-friendly choices in their day-to-day lives. The corporate world has been quick to mirror this with sustainable office ideas that aim to reduce the carbon footprint of individual companies. With large firms like Bloomberg snatching the title of world’s most sustainable office for purpose-building a state-of-the-art totally eco-efficient office building, the task of creating an eco-friendly office can seem like a daunting one – but it needn’t be.
We recently spoke to Sarah Phillis, Office Manager at Tapestry Research, a company we supplied with some branded Appeel notebooks. These eco-friendly books formed part of their very own eco-office transformation, and we wanted to know how they achieved it.
Their advice? Start with small changes and they’ll become habits that have long term effects. Inspired by their environmental overhaul, these 8 easy sustainable office ideas will help you make an immediate start on improving the environmental credentials of your work space:
1) Choose sustainable office supplies
When picking office stationery, choose products that have the least environment-damaging properties. Considering over 72% of paper consumption in Europe is recycled, making it one of the most recycled of all materials, paper notebooks and diaries can be placed safely at the top of your sustainable supplies list.
This was one of Tapestry Research’s sustainable office ideas when they asked us to help them produce some eco-conscious customised staff and client gift notebooks; “we wanted an eco-friendly alternative to Moleskine notebooks, and this is where (Noted in Style) really helped us out (and) made us aware of Appeel notebooks” Phillis tells us. The Appeel notebook is not only made with recycled paper, the cover is also crafted entirely from the discarded parts of apples and the whole product can be recycled itself, which made it the ultimate choice for Tapestry.
Pens, however, are often made from single-use plastic or non-recycled metal and so typically aren’t recyclable. Opt for high-quality writing instruments that are designed to last and are refillable – they won’t get thrown away and end up in landfill. If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to refillable pens however, our bamboo pens are a good alternative to plastic and are made from one of the most sustainable woods.
2) Recycle as much as you can
Recycling is the most obvious way to reduce the amount of office waste ending up in landfill. As Phillis relates, “recycling is a learning curve” and can be confusing even for the most vigilant eco-warriers amongst us. Making sure your team is well educated on where and how to recycle in the office is key, and after several weeks of adjusting, Phillis reports “we’re doing our best and have now managed to get people to put their rubbish in the right bins!”. We’re sure you’ll agree, if you’ve ever attempted to place a recycling system in an office of habitual one-bin-for-everything litterers, that this is no small feat.
3) Get to the root of sustainable office ideas
Consider popping some indoor plants on office desks and in reception areas, or using an outdoor space to grow flowers and other plant life.
Modern office buildings seal in air, and can contain up to ten times more pollutants than the air outside – brought inside, plants will improve air quality by removing these harmful pollutants and stabilizing humidity levels, whilst outdoor plant life will attract and feed the native bird, bee and bug population that’s needed to keep the eco-system buzzing. Not only will an outdoor area filled with shrubbery nurture the environment, it will also provide a pleasant space for staff to socialise resulting in an uplifting work atmosphere.
Tapestry Research have fully embraced this by instating a bee house in their rooftop terrace garden, giving those busy city bees somewhere to thrive!
4) A bright sustainable office idea to power down
Considering roughly 40% of the electricity used in buildings, such as large offices, is used for artificial lighting, making use of natural light as much as possible, installing motion-activated lighting, simply switching lights off when the rooms that aren’t being used and changing to energy-saving lightbulbs are all helpful sustainable office ideas. If you have windows in your building – use them! Rearranging your office into an open-space that maximizes the natural light from these windows will reduce the need for electric lighting whilst providing a mood-enhancing dose of Vitamin D for employees. Of course, if you don’t have enough windows to do this, there are other options: consider energy-saving lightbulbs. These last 10 times longer and use 80% less energy than traditional bulbs, thus having a positive impact on the environment and slashing the office electricity bill.
The office kitchen is a hive of energy-sapping activity, so encourage frugal appliance use. Take the unassuming kettle; a kettle costs 2.5 pence to boil and is likely to be used a number of times in a busy office of tea-drinkers, so replace it with a more energy-efficient urn which can boil more water at one time and retains its heat throughout the day. It sounds like a miniscule change, but over time it will reduce energy use significantly and decrease your company’s carbon footprint.
5) Green cleaning.
Tapestry Research immediately improved the environmental impact of their office hygiene habits by simply switching to eco-friendly cleaning products, recycled paper towels and upcycled old clothing in place of plastic-based cleaning cloths.
Choose non-toxic biodegradable soaps and detergents, and avoid cleaning products that contain dangerous chemicals like phthalates and formaldehyde to ensure neither the environment nor the employees in it are being affected by any harmful fumes or liquids.
6) Consolidate office orders
Phillis recommends that, like Tapestry Research, you“bulk buy supplies like food and cleaning products and cut down on Amazon purchases” as a conscious effort to reduce emissions from the multiple delivery vans that would otherwise be required for several smaller orders.
Buying in bulk will cut down on planet-damaging plastic packaging and decrease the transport costs and administrative resources that your office orders necessitate – ultimately shrinking your company’scarbon footprint. Phillis urges us to follow Tapestry’s example;“if we need extras, one of us will nip out and get them locally rather than sorting out a delivery”.
while we’re on the subject of minimizing the number of vehicles driving to your office, why not suggest extending this sustainable office idea to your employees’ commutes; car-shares, cycling or walking could be recommended as eco-friendly travel alternatives.
7) Meat-free Mondays
Veganism is growing in popularity, not only because of the health benefits it brings, but also because it helps protect the planet. Plant-based food is much more energy efficient to produce than meat and can improve – some research has linked vegan diets with lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Consider introducing at least one day a week where meat is banned from the office, and make your meat-free mark on the world. As a result of their weekly office food shop, Phillis reflects that the Tapestry team have become more selective over the foods they select: “it has made us all much more aware of what we eat and spend, and I think we have all cut down on unhealthy choices”.
8) Planet-friendly printing
Another small but significant sustainable office idea to take note of is a change in office printing practice. When it comes to printing, encourage staff to be mindful of whether or not something genuinely needs to be printed. Get them into the habit of communicating digitally by email.
You can also ask vendors to send invoices electronically to remove some of the paperwork; this would reduce your company’s carbon footprint and improve the efficiency of the business.
These suggested changes are small, but if enough corporate organisations get involved, they will make a big long-term difference to the environment.
Using Tapestry Research’s sustainable office ideas as an example, it’s clear that business sustainability goals make more of an impact than first meets the eye. By taking care of the environment, the welfare of staff is also vastly improved, and company finances are positively affected. As Phillis reports, “there is a greater awareness of sustainability in the Tapestry Research office now, and it’s often a topic of conversation around the lunch tables”, showing how their eco-office effort has notably changed staff attitude and created a stronger, happier and more caring work community.
Try any – or all – of these sustainable office ideas in your own office, and prepare to reap the environmental, social and economic rewards for your business!
If you’re looking to fulfill some company green goals, head to our website and take a look at our eco-friendly notebook range, or get in touch and speak to one of our sales advisors who will be able to tell you all about them.