Workplace Sustainability Starts with You

Improving your sustainability game in daily workplace life is easy using these four tips.

Joseph Mullings
Corporate Responsibility Manager, North America

The new year is an exciting time brimming with opportunity for a fresh start and a new beginning to do better and be better. For some, that might mean hitting the gym or tightening their wallet, but for those looking to up their sustainability game, we say forget about making a resolution and instead, make it a Greener You Revolution!

For those of us concerned about our impact on the environment and are back to working in the office, we’ve put together a list of four simple, but effective, eco-friendly tips to incorporate into your return-to-office life that can make a big impact.

Reduce Your Digital Carbon Footprint

Most people are familiar with the traditional carbon footprint contributors food, transportation, and household energy but did you know your digital actions leave behind a carbon component?

Sending emails, browsing the internet, playing music, or streaming a video all require a significant amount of energy to power networks and cool data centers that ultimately fuel our global network of devices.

If fact, current data indicates that more than 5 billion people worldwide use the internet. Multiply that by every email sent, query searched, or video watched equates to a massive energy surge that ultimately generates a significant amount of CO emissions.

This isn’t to say you need to go off-grid, but rather try to be more mindful of your digital actions. Start by regularly emptying your inbox, reducing your cloud usage, limiting your video streaming, and opting for non-HD options when you do.

Another important reminder is to always dispose of your unusable electronics properly and safely.

Eliminate Phantom Energy Where Possible

Phantom energy is the electricity electronics consume while not being actively used, such as a cell phone, laptop charger, or even a desk lamp. Consider unplugging these items when devices are fully powered or not being used to help combat energy wastage.

Another tip to reduce energy is to put your computer into ”sleep mode” versus using the screensaver when leaving your workstation for long periods of time.

Go Paperless

It’s estimated that the average American office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper annually nearly half of which ends up in a landfill.

Between the cost of paper and the energy required to print documents, the benefits of going paperless are abundantly clear from both a financial and environmental standpoint.

Here are a few tips to help make a paperless transition in your office:

  • Switch to digital invoicing
  • Transition to paperless meetings
  • Use e-signatures
  • Scan documents
  • Download documents to the cloud

Avoid Single-Use Items

Offices are notorious for having single-use items readily available for employees and visitors, such as cardboard coffee cups, plastic water bottles, stir sticks, straws, and plastic cutlery to name a few; but the cost of this convenience weighs heavily on our environment. 

Speak to your operations team to discuss eliminating single-use items from the workplace and lead by example with these small changes that will make a big impact on the environment.

Bring a Reusable Water Bottle/Coffee Mug into the Office
It is estimated that 1 billion plastic water bottles and 2.5 billion single-use coffee cups are discarded each year, ending up in landfills or worst yet, waterways and forests.

Do your part by bringing your own water bottle and/or coffee mug to reduce waste in landfills, protect the environment, and ultimately help stop the purchasing cycle of single-use items in your workplace.

The Last Straw
Another easy way to reduce plastic waste in the office while protecting wildlife is by eliminating the use of plastic straws. Bring a reusable alternative, such as metal or silicon straw, or make the switch to drinking straight from the cup!

About the Author

Joseph Mullings

Corporate Responsibility Manager, North America