The United Nations claim we have just 11 years left to limit a climate change catastrophe, at a macro level this has resulted in large players in industries ranging from banking to automotive manufacturing pledging to change the way they operate as they seek to minimise their contributions to climate change.
It’s not just large industries who can have help to mitigate the impacts of climate change, but rather changing the habits of every individual can have a small but impactful effect on preventing a climate catastrophe. This blog looks at 5 ways employers can make their office more environmentally friendly.
Reduce Single Use Plastic Usage
Around 1 million plastic bottles are sold around the globe every minute. Single use plastics such as water bottles have a detrimental impact on the environment as only half of these bottles are recycled and the remaining unrecycled plastic bottles take at least 450 years to completely degrade in the natural environment.
Plastic waste ends up in the Earth’s oceans, damaging ecosystems as plastics are ingested by fish and seabirds resulting in microplastics entering the human food chain. Furthermore, single use plastics contribute to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of their lifecycle from production, refining and disposal meaning cutting out single use plastics bottles can reduce your office’s contribution to climate change.
Reducing the use of single use plastics is as straightforward as providing reusable cups, cutlery and plates or encouraging employees to buy their own reusable water bottles and coffee cups. You could even provide employees with branded reusable water bottles!
Transport is the UK’s largest contributor to Greenhouse Gas emissions, responsible for 27% of the nation’s total emissions which equates to 468 million tonnes of CO². Driver only cars are naturally the worst mode of transport, followed by car sharing, bus and rail with the best transport options being cycling and walking.
Encouraging employees to change how they commute, such as promoting car sharing or adopting a cycle to work scheme could mitigate some of your office’s environmental impact. The environmental footprint of business travel could be reduced further through offering electric vehicles as company cars rather than their fossil fuel-based equivalents.
Electronic over Paper
Printing out documents which end up being thrown away due to corrections or revisions is a large contributor to office waste. There are many types of documents which can be sent electronically rather than via the post, for example electronic invoices and newsletters can reduce the total amount of paper waste produced by your employees.
Reviewing and making amendments to documents electronically can reduce the amount of paper used to only then be discarded once amendments have been made. One other perk of electronic documents is the lack of physical space needed to be able to store vast numbers of files over traditional filing cabinets and storage facilities.
Reminding employees to switch off electronics such as PCs, monitors and lights when they leave the office can reduce the total amount of electricity consumption within your workplace. Even on standby devices still draw power therefore encourage employees to switch devices off at the mains plug. Some companies enforce a strict policy whereby all devices should be switched off at night resulting in savings in terms of the cost of electricity but more importantly offers savings in CO² emissions.
In the average office, leaving lights on overnight throughout the course of a year consumes enough energy to heat a home for 5 months. PCs and monitors cost around £45 a year when they are left switched on, which across a large office can result in a large energy bill. Encouraging employees to switch off their PCs, monitors and other office equipment could lead to a dramatic reduction in your workplace’s utility bill and energy consumption.
Unsurprisingly businesses contribute around 56% of the UK’s energy consumption each year, therefore it is important that businesses look at how energy is consumed in their workplace but also where this energy is generated.
Reducing your workplace’s carbon footprint can be achieved in several ways, with many of these methods delivering great cost savings, often paying for themselves within a decade. Solar panels, wind turbines and hydroelectric power are all viable options for businesses, taking anywhere between 5-15 years to pay for themselves.
If your business can’t commit to these kind of timescales due to lease lengths or lack of finances, simply changing your energy supplier to a company which generates electricity via renewable sources- such as Bulb- could lead to a reduction in both costs and your workplace’s carbon footprint.