Many of us have taken steps to go green at home, whether by recycling, saving energy, or cutting down on our food waste. But the workplace is just as important - since so many people spend so much time at work, even small changes can make a huge difference. For example, if every UK office worker used one less staple a day, it would save 120 tonnes of steel a year!
The new year is the perfect time to get your colleagues on board with some of our top tips for a greener office.
Use energy more wisely
Reducing your office’s energy use saves money as well as making the workplace more sustainable. Electricity and heating are some of the biggest controllable overheads in workplaces, and there are lots of easy ways to use less. For example:
- Turning computers and monitors off at night can save £35 a year per desk.
- Installing the right office lights, such as energy saving bulbs or LEDs can reduce energy costs by up to 15%.
- Reducing the temperature by 1°C can save enough energy to print over 40 million sheets of A4 paper.
Cut down on food waste
Did you know that in the UK we throw away around 10 million tonnes of food a year? The good news is that getting together with others in your workplace is a great way to make sure food doesn’t go to waste.
Why not start a ‘lunch club’ and take it in turns to bring and share food for the group? More people means leftovers are more likely to be eaten. You could even try out recipes that use up leftover food – there’s some great inspiration on the Love Food, Hate Waste website. Another idea is to have a sharing table, or communal fridge shelf, so people can leave food that they can’t finish for others to use.
Composting is a great way to use up the food that you don’t use, like banana peels, apple cores, stale bread and other leftovers. If there are gardeners in your office, they’ll be keen to take it off your hands – or you could find a local community garden to donate it to.
You can start saving energy before you even get into work. Cycling is one of the greenest ways to travel, and there’s lots you can do to help encourage others to try. Set up a cycling group to offer advice to new cyclists, arrange for regular ‘bike doctor’ sessions for bike maintenance, or even arrange guided rides for those who aren’t confident on the roads.
Is there an office refurb on the horizon, or is your workplace getting some new furniture or white goods? The thought of a shiny new desk chair might be alluring, but buying reused and refurbished furniture can help reduce the cost and environmental impact – as well as being just as comfy as if it were brand new! And if you’re getting rid of furniture, you could donate it to a charity shop or refurbishment scheme.
The same goes for your old office fridge or dishwasher: schemes like REWORK take appliances that would otherwise be scrapped and return them to full working order. The refurbished electrical goods and furniture are then sold on to charity retailers in London and further afield.
Get involved in green volunteering
Taking part in a volunteering day for a charity benefits communities and the local environment, while being an opportunity to tackle tasks and physical challenges together. Groundwork London runs a range of projects that help people live more sustainably and improve green spaces across London. By taking part in team building challenges, or sharing professional skills with people who need them, you can make a huge impact on our work. Find out more on our corporate volunteering page.