The pressure to become more eco-friendly as a business and as an individual comes from all directions: employees, the media, the government, clients and customers.
Everywhere we look we’re told to try and change the way we do things to lessen our impact on the environment, which, in all fairness, has become catastrophic.
We're causing destruction and change within ecosystems and natural resources that is leading to global warming, environmental degradation and mass extinction. We are making progress in reversing this impact but it’s nowhere near enough.
But isn't there enough to think about with the multitude of challenges that comes with running a business? Most of us simply don't have the mental or physical capacity to take on environmental accountability too.
So, we've purposely compiled this list of quick and easy environmental wins that require minimal effort, so you can start making a change today without having to give it too much thought.
1. Fully loaded
For smaller offices, and if you can bear it, wait until the sink is full of dirty dishes before loading up the dishwasher. Not only is using a dishwasher over hand-washing more eco-friendly, but you’ll get more bang for your buck with a fully-loaded dishwasher as it operates more efficiently. So, leave the washing up to the end of the day and to the dishwasher. An easy, lazy win!
2. Go meat-free
If you're a meat-eater, try and go meat-free for at least one day a week.
The environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet are widely promoted: it reduces the stress on ecological systems, greenhouse gas emissions and is even said to promote better health and reduce the risk of some cancers and obesity-related diseases.
If we can encourage those in the workplace to reduce meat intake by just a few meals a week, we can collectively make a difference to the environment.
The daily commute can be stressful for so many of us, but simple changes like opting for public transport or car-sharing with a local colleague can reduce environmental impact, stress and costs.
Sitting on the bus or train means you can use that otherwise dead time to read a book, listen to a podcast or catch up on emails.
Not a fan of public transport and have no one to car-share with? Try the car-pool app BlaBla which finds cars travelling to the same place as you. Car-sharing is an excellent way to save money, the environment, and on the days you’re not driving, chill out, relax and enjoy the journey.
4. Recycling centre
Create a recycling centre in a central part of the office so even the laziest of colleagues don’t have to travel far to recycle. Make your teams aware of recycling best practices and the rest will take care of itself.
5. Don’t print and post
Attach documents to emails rather than printing and posting them. Most businesses do this already, but consider eliminating paper invoices, proposals and receipts entirely.
6. Turn it off
Probably easiest on the list - turn off your computer, electrics and lights every evening before you leave the office, to save on energy (and money).
7. Call the plumber
All it takes is one phone call to the plumber to fix that leaky tap, and you could save a significant amount in water bills. A tap leaking at a rate of one drop per second could waste more than 10,000 litres of water a year!
Reuse office supplies where possible: paper clips, paper, folders etc are all reusable. Once employees start to become more mindful of waste this should come naturally, but actively encouraging reuse is a great place to start and also saves on unnecessary costs.
Purchase an automatic hand dryer. It may seem like a big one-time cost, but the reduced impact on the environment as well as your budget will be visible sooner than you realise.
Just think of the savings you'll make on paper towels!
10. Tighten up your print policy
Only print when absolutely necessary. Make this a company-wide policy. Mindless, needless printing accounts for a whole lot of waste!
11. Allow (and encourage) remote working
Experiment with allowing colleagues to work remotely more often, or perhaps flex their hours so they do longer hours across fewer days. The savings on office overhead costs, energy, travelling and therefore reduced environmental impact will be significant.
12. Video conferencing
Can any of your in-person meetings take place via video conference? The saved journeys could cut fuel emissions and unnecessary car journeys, saving on costs incurred, the environment and precious time!
It’s probably best to implement one or two of these at a time to really make sure they stick, rather than trying to do them all at once. But they're easy enough that they shouldn't require too much thinking or effort.
Ensure you communicate company-wide the rationale behind these initiatives - you’d be surprised how many employees will be on board. You could also try and incentivise employees who contribute consistently to your new eco-friendly policies and in time you will start to see the benefits spanning positive company culture, cost-savings and operational efficiencies.