Follow these three “green” tips to be a more eco-friendly employee and make a difference for the planet at the office…
Lots of people have taken steps to live greener at home, but what about at work? After all, you likely spend more time at work than you do at home, so minimizing your impact on the planet takes more than just changing your lightbulbs at home or turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Fortunately, even if your office hasn’t yet implemented eco-friendly business practices (though they should), there are still a number of things you can do to be a more eco-friendly employee.
For example, choosing eco-friendly modes of transportation – including biking if feasible, carpooling, taking public transportation, or driving an electric or hybrid vehicle can all cut down on your work-related carbon emissions. Even better, if you have the option to telecommute, you can eliminate transportation entirely!
But even if you have to commute to work, there are other eco-friendly habits that you can practice once you get to the office.
Here are 3 more ways to be a more eco-friendly employee:
1.) Recycle and Use Green Materials
This may seem like an obvious and extremely clichéd suggestion, but it’s surprising how few people recycle, even though it is so easy to implement.
You can start by getting a separate trash can for work to use as a recycling bin at your desk. This way, recycling becomes as effortless as other modes of paper disposal. When possible, choose to go paperless, or at least use post-consumer recycled stationery. Using a whiteboard or blackboard for note-taking is much better than a notebook, as you can easily erase and reuse without wasting paper… If you need to save your notes, take a picture using your smart phone for later reference.
Give up paper towels and plastic bags, and bring in your own cloth napkins and reusable totes. These are things you can control that don’t require sign-off by upper management, though most superiors shouldn’t have a problem with these measures, anyway.
2.) Choose Local, Organic Foods for Lunch
It’s easy to go to a fast food chain and pick up a quick lunch on a busy day. What we sometimes don’t realize is that fast food comes with a whole slew of environmental issues, ranging from its packaging to its production and transportation. Admittedly, certain fast food chains have been trying to address these concerns through various initiatives, but there is still a long way to go before these become sustainable. In fact, fast food packaging is estimated to take up about 40 percent of all litter, with Styrofoam being the most common food waste. Styrofoam itself takes about 900 years to biodegrade, so you can only imagine how much harm this does to the environment.
By packing your own lunch in reusable containers, you can help offset this harm. If you are ordering in, make sure to do so with co-workers to try and reduce the amount of packaging used. Choosing local and organically produced fair-trade products is a great way to grow your local economy and support area artisans, as well as to reduce emissions produced from transportation of imported goods. What’s more, following these easy food habits will also keep you healthier and fitter.
3.) Be a Leader
Share these basic tips with your co-workers, especially if you work in an office that doesn’t actively promote sustainable business practices. Being an ambassador for the environment will earn you great respect and make a positive impact. Simple things — like requesting your manager buy fair-trade coffee for the break room, or encouraging employees to recycle right from their desks by having a small separate recycle bin, or arranging for everyone to get a mug to eliminate the use of paper cups — can go a long way. Spread awareness and be an example for others so that they are motivated to follow in your footsteps.
As you can see, even if your company isn’t inherently “green,” there are many things you can do to make sure your work practices are sustainable. Remember that even as an employee, you do have the power to change the way you work and to make a positive difference.