Choosing to be more conscious of waste in the office is not as difficult or costly as one may initially believe. The bottom line will actually benefit from eliminating any archaic office habits that your firm might still be guilty of…
Here are some helpful tips to consider that can make a meaningful change:
1. Designate a ‘Green Team’
When it comes to reducing waste, altering human behaviour is the most difficult obstacle to overcome. Changes are most successful when everyone supports the ideas and follows the new system. There is strength in numbers. Round up your likeminded co-workers and establish a team to brainstorm creative ways to reduce waste in the office. If your firm is serious about decreasing its overall carbon footprint, consider implementing some incentives to further motivate staff to stick with the sustainability plan.
2. Go Paperless
The need for paper and printers is rapidly decreasing. Hinder the temptation to print by reducing the number of printers in the office. Boardrooms should be equipped with a screen and computer in order to access documents electronically, which you would otherwise be required to print. When paper is needed, consider double-sided prints.
Eliminating the amount of paper that your office generates, in the end, will eliminate wasted expenses and time spent filing paperwork. [Oatley Vigmond was one of the first firms in Canada to adopt the concept of ‘paperless trials’. To learn more, please read “iPads in The Courtroom”.]
Consider something simple like opting for digital gift cards to distribute at staff appreciation events, especially if physical cards were previously going to be packaged in boxes or envelopes.
3. Conserve Energy
Simply powering down electronics is not enough. Eliminating standby power can be a major cost saver. An Appliance Standards Awareness Project study found that the typical microwave is only used about 70 hours a year, leaving the unused time burning as much as 35 kilowatt hours over the course of one year. If you would rather not rely on staff to safely unplug electronics, invest in Smart Power Strips . You can easily set one up, leave it, and begin saving money.
Artificial lighting represents a large percentage of electricity consumption in a typical office building. Investing in transitioning to a LED motion-activated light system will help reduce costs in the long run. Leaving lights on when rooms are not in use is an unnecessary expense that can be easily avoided. LED bulbs use 25-80% less energy and last 3-25 times longer compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs are also recyclable.
If the facility can accommodate the installation of solar panels, you can reap long-term savings from your initial investment, including incentives like rebates and the ability to sell excess energy to power companies.
4. Manage Waste Effectively – Kitchen Aids
Provide your staff with a water cooler and reusable cups to eliminate plastic bottles. Purchase bulk supplies instead of individually wrapped items such as sugar packets, milk/cream containers, etc. Replace single-use plastics like cutlery, plates, etc. with reusable or compostable alternatives.
Clearly label waste bins. While we all know recycling is an option, some are not encouraged to take that extra step if it is not right in front of them. Properly labelling your bins will make it easier to effortlessly recycle. If your facility does not offer composting as part of its waste management service, there is likely a third party composting service available in your area.
5. Reduce the Commute
Working remotely not only reduces an individual’s carbon emissions, but can help limit food and plastic waste too. If your office cannot accommodate an abundance of remote workers, then consider dedicating one day per week or month to working remotely.
Encourage staff to think about alternative travel options by installing bike racks and electronic plug-in stations. Encourage carpooling for travelling to events/conferences.
6. Plant Life – Literally
Make your office green with plants. Plant life purifies the air and can even improve your mood. They absorb airborne pollutants, which are rampant with off-gassing office furniture, and emit healthy negative ions and oxygen into the air. Having some green plants in the office also reduces that “bland” look, making it more comfortable to be in.
Have a tip of your own? Connect with @OatleyVigmond on social media to share with us how your firm is working to help reduce its harmful impact on the environment!
This article was written by Jesseca Perry, a Legal Assistant at Oatley Vigmond.