5 Ways to Reduce Your Office Carbon Footprint
April 22, 2016
Topicscarbon footprint, Earth Day, efficiencies, office
Ever wondered how the carbon footprint of a printed letter compares to a boiled kettle? I have, and it turns out a letter can do just as much damage to the environment as two boils of a kettle. Who’d have thought it?
You’ll be glad to hear I haven’t gone as far as testing this myself. Thankfully, a carbon footprint comparison tool came to my rescue. Tools like this provide eye-watering examples of just how easy it is to damage our lovely planet whilst going about our jobs.
The office, given its abundance of tech, materials and volume of occupants, can be a key culprit. We all have to do our bit when it comes to keeping the Earth healthy, and if you’re concerned your office’s carbon footprint is rather larger than it should be, I’ve got 5 brilliant tips for reducing it.
1. Go digital
This one is rather obvious, but we all need reminding occasionally. Before you print anything, ask yourself if you need to. I can guarantee the answer will nearly always be "no." We live in a world where document sharing is incredibly simple and convenient, so make use of wonderful tools like Dropbox.
2. Allow people to work from home
One less person in the office will result in fewer emissions emanating from the building and one less car in the car park. That all adds up over time, and if you make it a regular, acceptable thing, you’ll be doing your bit for the environment and will most likely see a positive upturn in productivity as a nice side effect.
3. Recycle as you would at home
When you enter the office, do you think about recycling in the same way you do at home? Are there different bins for different types of waste?
If you’re shaking your head, it’s time to start recycling as you would at home. Add bins for plastics, metals, glass and food waste and encourage your staff to use them.
4. Turn stuff off
If you’re running a business, there’s a good chance you’ve got a server which needs to be on at all times. That’s fine and is part and parcel of every day life. Everything else, though, can be switched off when it’s time to go home: workstations, monitors, lights - the lot. Similarly, if the photocopier is barely used throughout the day, reach for the plug.
5. Share your green credentials with others
If you share the green workload between two buildings, you’ll reduce the carbon footprint of both, so why not team up with a like-minded company nearby? You could share servers, web hosts or simply keep one printer between the two of you if you’re close enough. Make it a partnership - it’ll work brilliantly for both companies.
When Apple launches a new product, it spends a great deal of time highlighting its green credentials. This is for two reasons: 1) they know they have a responsibility to protect the planet and, 2) it works marvellously as a marketing tactic by endearing them to customers.
You can do the same. Go green!
It is important that leaders be socially responsible and consider all means of helping their organization to be Eco friendly. Apple is a good example of it.
Thanks for your post.
Thanks, Will. Apple have made great strides in this area and it’s encouraging to see just how much of their marketing budget they appear willing to devote to it. Let’s hope more do the same.
Hi, Mark – nicely-constructed and very timely post:)
You made me very uncomfortable with the first item on your list, since I have a very bad habit of printing things which I do not need to print. I am just old enough to be a hard-copy native trying hard to assimiliate in a digital world. I appreciate the reminder.
Interesting comment on your suggestion to “Recycle As You Would At Home”. I work for myself, at home which I share with two other adults. I have much more control over my work recycling efforts than I do my home efforts, since the two cave-dwellers with whom I share a residence are not particularly into recycle. In my tax–deductible space, I am relatively green, aside from the above-referenced hard copy obsession.
Somewhat more seriously, thanks for the useful tips and relatively gentle reminder to take care of the planet … much appreciated:)
Thanks for your kind comments – they’re really appreciated. I glad you enjoyed the post.
Hey – we’ve all been guilty of printing stuff we should perhaps leave in the digital realm, so don’t worry about that. I’ve now switched completely to my laptop and/or iPad at meetings rather than printed agendas and minutes, and I’ve gradually noticed more people doing the same.
We’ll get there 🙂
Hi again, Mark – follow-up question.
Are you aware of the research which indicates that writing notes on paper results in more retention of information than keyboarding on a laptop or tablet? This has ecological implications for what we are talking about.
I wasn’t aware of that research. Do you have a link to the study in question?
I’d guess it depends on the individual and on the way in which those devices are used. If you’re using a laptop or tablet in multitasking mode and have more than one thing on the screen while you’re taking notes, you’re far less likely to take things in than you may be with a piece of paper.
‘Distraction-free’ writing software is becoming very popular (https://ia.net/writer/mac/) because it strips everything back to what is, essentially, a piece of digital paper, free from buttons, menus and pop-ups. I can’t see how retention could be reduced if those kind of tools were being used…
Interesting stuff, though.