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How Green is Your Workplace?

On 22 April every year, people around the world celebrate Earth Day, pledging time, effort and funds towards protecting our planet for future generations to enjoy. Activities range from planting trees to picking up litter – with everyone free to participate in whatever way they can. But it doesn’t have to be Earth Day for us to make a difference. Here are some of the actions we can all take in the workplace every day to create a healthier, happier environment.

Be More Energy-Savvy

There are some great ways to cut down on electricity usage, such as installing energy efficient light bulbs like CFLs or LEDs. You might also want to think about adjusting your central thermostat. Do you really need it to be that warm or that cool, or have you got a few degrees leeway? And how about setting your computers to enter sleep mode when you are not using them? Finally, a no-brainer: the last one leaving the workplace should turn out the lights!

Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!

Many workplaces already have bins in strategic locations for recycling paper, plastic and cans. But you might be surprised at what else you can recycle. Officeworks has a massive recycling program that includes E-waste recycling for anything with a cord or plug, free printer cartridge recycling, and pens and markers recycling. Alternatively, you could check out individual initiatives like Cartridges 4 Planet Ark, or Mobile Muster for information on where to drop off any unwanted mobile phones.

Save Paper

A shocking statistic: we use around 130 kg of paper and paperboard per person per year in Australia. And yet there are some simple ways to cut down our usage (rather than the trees). Start by changing your default printer settings to double-sided. Opt for recycled or responsibly sourced paper. And think about whether you actually need to print that document at all. Could you – gulp! – make the move towards a paperless workplace?

Reduce Travel

It’s not just the workplace we should be thinking about, but the daily commute and travel to events and meetings. There are a number of ways to reduce our reliance on personal transport – and cut car emissions. Could you carpool with some of your co-workers for the journey to and from work, perhaps? Or organise a virtual meeting instead of a face-to-face one offsite?

Buy in Bulk

A great way to save on all that plastic packaging is to buy in bulk. Keep an eye out for large containers of biodegradable cleaning products and liquid soap, rolls of compostable bags and giant tins of fair trade coffee. You’ll likely find that by buying in bulk, you’ll cut costs too.

Coffee Cups For Life

A staggering 1 billion disposable coffee cups end up in landfill every year in Australia. With so many reusable cups now on the market, this is one number we can all help to reduce. So, next time you’re tasked with the coffee run, grab those keep cups from your co-workers. Note: You could also promote use of reusable plates, bowls, glasses and cutlery in the workplace.

Bring the Outside In

Everyone likes a bit of greenery in the workplace. And little wonder. Plants not only create a sense of wellbeing, they also emit oxygen and reduce pollution. Some plants, e.g. rubber plants and peace lilies also have excellent sound-absorbing qualities. A great choice if you work in a busy, buzzy workplace (and need a little quiet).

Greening your workplace takes thought, planning and commitment but every action you take can help make a better future.

What are you doing to promote sustainability in the workplace? We’d love to hear your ideas.