Reducing our impact on the environment has never been more important. As individuals, businesses and regions, we all need to make drastic changes to live and work greener, and reduce our carbon emissions. As a business, we know we have a long way to go, but we are investing in and working with green technologies to reduce our energy consumption and waste output in our buildings. This not only affects our processes as a business, but it also has an impact on our customers, helping them to reduce their own carbon footprint.
This week (13th - 17th May) is Green Office Week, so we’ve been taking a look at the ways our business, colleagues and customers can make green choices in the workplace. Over two-thirds of office workers feel that it’s important that UK companies are environmentally responsible, after all, office life can have a big impact on the environment and businesses need to take responsibility. This is reflected in the thoughts of workers across the UK, too, with 82% of office workers believing that their company could do more to improve their environmental performance.
Some of the main ways to become greener in the office (and at home) can be broken down into ‘The 5 R’s’: refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle. Here we take a look at how you can implement these factors to create your own green office space you can implement into your office space to make a big difference.
Only buy and use what you really need to do your work. How many biros do you have stockpiled in your drawer? Are the folders of printed handouts piling up on your desk really necessary? Restricting yourself to using only the items which are completely necessary will help to reduce your carbon footprint and probably also make things a bit tidier.
Of course, there is always going to be office equipment that a business needs, so we know you can’t refuse everything. But when putting in your stationery order, ask colleagues to research any eco-friendly alternatives there might be. You’ll be surprised what you can find; it might be a biodegradable pen, non-toxic cleaner or solar USB chargers.
Now is the perfect time to have a spring clean. Have an office tidy up and see what your business does and doesn’t need. Anything that is no longer useful, try and pass it on or make sure it’s recycled when possible.
Another major way of reducing to become more environmentally friendly is to reduce the amount of paper your business uses. It’s possible now to do pretty much everything digitally, so it’s incredibly easy to create a paperless workplace. Not only will going paperless have a huge impact on the environment, it will also help your business to save on paper and printing costs, create simpler storage systems and make things more easily accessible. But, if you really do have to print something out, make sure you print double-sided.
You can help to reduce your waste by trying to reuse items wherever you can. It might be that before throwing packaging away, you see whether it can be used for storage. Or if you have some paper that’s only been printed on one side, use the other for making meeting notes for a to-do list rather than wasting a new sheet or your notebook.
At Bruntwood, not only do we repurpose materials, we also repurpose buildings. This has always been a key element of our business, choosing to redevelop buildings in many cases, rather than knocking down and starting from scratch. While a building might look old and tired externally, this doesn’t mean it needs rebuilding, after all, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
This is something Bruntwood has always done because we feel it makes perfect business and environmental sense. Through this process, we’re able to save embodied carbon, but also time, labour, product and cost.
By now this should seem so easy, but recycling can often be overlooked. When you’re engrossed in your work, or busy rushing from one meeting to the next, mindlessly throwing things away is easily done.
Often it’s just the case that people need a bit of extra education around what can and can’t be recycled and why it’s important. Whether it’s an awareness day or creating educational resources, providing engaging information that appeals to your colleagues’ understanding, beliefs and habits can help people to learn the importance of recycling and its impact on the environment. Even just clearly labelling your recycling facilities can go a long way to making sure less of your waste is going to landfill.
Or just cycle
We couldn’t just leave it at that. You can always encourage your colleagues to be greener before they reach the office. We believe in encouraging more eco-friendly commuting methods, whether that’s promoting public transport, or providing facilities so that people can cycle or run to work. By adding bike storage and showering facilities, if possible, you can make it much easier for people to choose alternative modes of transport. While your employees are reducing their carbon footprint, the activity will also help improve their physical and mental health.
Making these changes to the workplace are just a small part of the puzzle, though. The importance of monitoring and reducing the impact we individually and collectively make on our environment can’t be understated. As a business, we are also involved with various schemes and organisations, such as our UKGBC Net Zero Carbon commitment and our City of Trees partnership. By working together with civic, public and private sector partners, we’re able to champion eco consciousness at city level.