We all seem to have a relatively good idea about sustainability practices at home, whether that’s recycling; composting; energy saving; but how about work?
We don’t need to be in Human Resources, procurement or management to implement small changes. Keep reading for my recommended, doable steps you can take to kick start your work sustainability journey.
[For more at home sustainability, take a look at my past post here].
I wouldn’t be giving you my 100% if I didn’t cover all of my sustainability bases. Firstly, here are the two most obvious practices:
This is the simplest form of being sustainable at any workplace. Recycle your trash and ensure the staff have the knowledge which items can actually be recycled. Just because it’s paper, doesn’t mean it can be recycled due to ink used, paper type, etc. Take a moment to educate yourself & perhaps do a 15-20 minute environmental huddle with your colleagues to inform them of these practices.
Switching your lighting to energy saving bulbs such as LED, not only contributes to sustainability, but it will actually cut your employers energy bill by almost 75%. When my landlord told me this recently I was shocked.
In addition, speak to the safety officer at work, is it necessary to leave the lights on at the office after hours? If not, encourage everyone to turn off lights at their workstations once they’re done for the day. It’s simple!
BC Hydro is a great hub for information on both personal & business tips regarding energy savings, which you can find here.
Many businesses have gone totally paperless. Sometimes I admit, it can be frustrating but by complying you are doing your bit for the planet. Utilize digital signatures where possible, and print on both sides if you have to print.
Since working from home, my paper consumption has decreased to practically non existent
as I do not have a printer at home and that forces me to use digital notepads etc. instead.
Ok. Moving onto some less traditional things you can do at work.
Set up a sustainability employee resource group
Resource groups are super fun & brainstorming in a group can achieve better results. There is no budget required from the employer. The only thing required, is to allow the employees to meet whether that’d be virtually or in person for 30 minutes once a month during work hours to discuss sustainability practices, challenges and how to get more colleagues involved.
Get in touch with your HR to consult & confirm what your company policy is regarding these groups.
Employee Resource Groups are designated to allow employees to spread awareness about particular topics (in this case sustainability), provide information, tips and encourage others to join the cause.
Within the group you can assign roles and come up with fun at work challenges to reach a mutual goal, in this case – be more sustainable together.
Some fun challenges/initiatives that can be done:
- Walk to work month – Promote car free month, walk to work or take transit instead.
- Reduce your waste – Whoever (person or department) can produce the least amount of trash wins.
- Showcase your reusables – In this day & age most workplaces use some form of an internal social media platform, on which everyone can showcase their reusable coffee mugs, water bottles etc. simultaneously encouraging to ditch single use cups & containers.
- Plastic Free Month – See who can do grocery shop with the least amount of plastic packaging purchased. There are number of businesses across Vancouver that promote packaging free products and they’re definitely worth checking out.
Use responsible vendors & Purchase reusable supplies
You may not be the person responsible for inventory & supplies order, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t provide advice to those that are. Go ahead & talk to your vendor management, officer manager or procurement team and raise those important questions:
- Are our vendors using recyclable materials?
- Is our company purchasing single use or reusable supplies? What can we do to change that?
Discuss Office Attire with Your Manager
Number of businesses which directly deal with clients have a dress code. That is totally understandable, but if you work in an office where client contact is minimal, is it really necessary to wear business attire?
Sustainability ties in with abolishing fast fashion and unnecessary purchases. I don’t mean stop buying clothing altogether, but if you don’t own a suit and a shirt, does your employer REALLY need you to wear it?
It’s definitely a question worth raising. The worst that can happen is you will get a rejection.
Make sure your employer knows, where you are coming from – explain you’re trying to be environmentally conscious and if this particular attire isn’t necessary then you’d prefer to wear business casual items you already own.
There are many other things businesses can do to be more sustainable. A lot of it comes down to cost, which not every business can afford. They should at least review the current sustainable practices – we only have one planet. All you can do is raise those important questions and keep it top of mind.
Above all else, be an advocate to living sustainably! Even if you change the ways of only 1 person, that makes a huge impact on our planet already.
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