Each year, more than 190 countries celebrate Earth Day1, a pivotal date in the environmental calendar. Established in 1970 as a grassroots movement, the event has grown into a global phenomenon, spotlighting issues on the world stage.
Earth Day aims to drive meaningful change by educating on climate change, ending plastic pollution, encouraging conservation and raising awareness on how food waste impacts the environment. The theme for Earth Day 2022 is ‘Invest in Our Planet’2, a topic that encourages organizations – no matter how big or small – to embed a sustainability strategy into everyday business practices.
An environmentally conscious office is not only good for the planet. If you put sustainability at the heart of business operations, you can reduce energy costs, improve employee wellbeing and attract talent as well as customers who share your future-focused vision. Whether you are just getting started on your office sustainability journey or are looking to make additional impact, read on to discover ten ways to boost sustainability in your enterprise.
1. Take the hard work out of recycling
According to the Essity Green Recovery Survey 20213, reducing waste is the number one way to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. Since so many employees are already engaging in recycling efforts at home, it makes sense to develop a recycling policy to help reduce waste in the office.
Americans cite lack of convenient access as their number one reason for not recycling. Many employees pinpoint inadequate facilities, poor signage, or conversely, signage that is too detailed as key reasons for not recycling at work. Make it simple for employees to engage by providing clearly marked recycling bins for paper, plastic, glass and aluminum, and compost at regular points throughout the office. As well as recycling general waste, consider implementing an e-waste recycling program to ensure computers, electronics and cables are recycled too.
2. Eliminate or reduce single use plastic
One of the easiest ways to boost sustainability in the office is to limit or even remove common single-use plastic items, such as water bottles, straws and cutlery. If you do choose to eliminate single-use plastics from your office as a quick win for the environment, ensure that you provide your employees with suitable alternatives, such as reusable cups, plates and cutlery. You’ll want to make sure shared spaces such as breakrooms and surfaces in your office are kept scrupulously clean for the health and wellbeing of your workforce. If using plastic items and packaging is unavoidable, be sure to dispose of them in the proper plastic recycling stream to limit your impact on the environment.
3. Recycle office paper products
Every year, the average American uses an astounding 700 pounds4 of paper products. Being considerate of the amount of paper you use is key to any office sustainability journey. If you would like your office to become ‘paperlight’, you might like to consider initiatives such as switching to a digital document filing system and properly recycling paper products and cardboard boxes. You can also make a concerted effort to recycle specific office products, such as tissues, with schemes such as Tork PaperCircle® – a one-of-a-kind recycling service for paper hand towels.
4. Opt for sustainable office products
To mark Earth Day 2022, why not make a concerted effort to choose more sustainable office products? Offices tend to plow through a huge volume of items such as napkins, toilet paper, hand soap, hand sanitizer, napkins and cleaning wipes. When you partner with suppliers that promote sustainability, you can avoid contributing to unnecessary environmental waste. If you are looking for an easy way to meet green cleaning standards, try to switch to environmentally certified products.
Innovations such as one-at-a-time dispensing to reduce consumption can improve your business sustainability performance – as well as boost the wellbeing of your employees and visitors.
5. Foster a culture of energy consciousness
If you want to power up sustainability efforts in your office, try to encourage your employees to power down whenever possible. Encourage employees to take individual responsibility over their own energy consumption. You could encourage your staff to turn off lights when they leave a room, set laptops and computers to sleep mode when not in use and unplug electronics and appliances to minimize phantom energy use. In terms of collective effort, try to utilize natural light whenever possible and switch to energy-efficient lightbulbs to help transform the sustainability of your office. Also consider using automatic systems that adapt lighting, heaters and thermostats to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.
6. Encourage eco-friendly commuting
Millions of people are slowly resuming to commuting to and from work every day, so reducing the environmental impact of pollution from cars by encouraging eco-friendly travel practices is a great way to extend your office sustainability message. To commemorate Earth Day 2022, you might like to promote or incentivize carpooling, public transportation and cycling schemes for your employees. Taking practical steps to reduce commuter emissions has dual benefits: it can improve the health and well-being of individual employees, and it can help your business meet net zero goals.
7. Attract and empower ‘Generation Green’
According to the Essity Green Response Survey 20215, the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced almost every other person to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle – especially younger people. Increasingly referred to as ‘Generation Green’, around 70% of Millennials and Gen Z prefer to work in a company with a strong sustainability agenda6. In a Fast Company survey7 about 3/4 said they would be willing to take a smaller salary to work for a sustainability-conscious firm. To attract the best young talent to your office, consider renovating your building to meet sustainability goals, improving waste management or switching to renewable sources of energy – and don’t forget to include mention of your sustainability efforts in your internal and external communications.
8. Boost sustainability with big data
The data-driven cleaning revolution is here – and this is great news for both businesses and the planet. Tork Vision Cleaning harnesses the power of real-time data to identify when and where there are service needs in your facility. This helps you maximize efficiency so that you can work smarter and set a new hygiene standard. According to data collected from existing Tork customers, making the switch to data-driven cleaning helps reduce refill waste and improve cleaning efficiency by ensuring dispensers are stocked and reducing dispenser checks.
9. Switch to eco-friendly coffee
More often than not, offices both large and small are powered by coffee. If you are an office facility manager, you’ve probably noticed how much waste is produced by coffee drinking, which often encourages a throw-away mindset (think individual servings of creamer and disposable coffee cups). For Earth Day 2022, consider overhauling office café culture by switching to eco-friendly products such as responsibly sourced coffee, compostable cups or reusable mugs and engaging in a coffee-pod recycling scheme. You can even add coffee grounds to compostable food waste.
10. Consider applying for LEED certification
Did you know buildings account for almost 30% of annual CO2 emissions across the globe8? Sustainability is an increasingly important topic in the building sector and construction industry. The globally recognized green building certification system LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is paving the way for offices to be more sustainable – and even small businesses are welcome to apply. Read more about how LEED certification can propel your business into the future.
1 Earth Day: Our Work
2 Earth Day: Earth Day 2022 – Invest in Our Planet
3 Essity: Green Response Report 2021
4 Formstack: a bid for the paperless office
5 Essity: Green Response Report 2021
6 JLL: Trends and insights
7 Fast Company: Millennials would take pay cut to work at a sustainable company
8 Canada Green Building Council: LEED: the international mark of excellence