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10 fresh ways you can approach workplace sustainability

We've all heard the catch cry "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle" but how does that convert to your workplace? Time to look at how we can encourage sustainability in the workplace.

  1. Eco- Equipment: Use energy management controls to be able to switch off your equipment overnight, on long weekends and holiday periods. When you need to buy new equipment do your research and buy the best energy efficient items within your price range. Recycle old or broken equipment to minimize landfill.
  1. Stay online: Do everything you can online to minimize paper waste. Manage activities like reading reports, creating events, sending invitations, booking restaurants, sending emails and taking notes etc. online. Also, where possible, consider online meeting options rather than travelling.
  1. Proactive Printing: Really have to print something? There are still many way to make this task as sustainable:

·  Have your printers and copier default set to print double-sided to reduce your workplace paper use.

·  Utilize a print-follow system, which reduces uncollected paper. This is where a document is set to the printer as normal but sits in a queue until the user logs in at the printer and selects it to print. This saves people from printing incorrect or changed documents or forgetting to retrieve their documents.

  1. Recycle EVERYTHING: Whether with the office or outside of the workplace, recycling is possible. Some examples include:

·  If you need to print one-sided either make paper notebooks by getting together and paper clipping or stapling them together.

·  Refill, re-ink or recycle all your printer cartridges

·  Employ a recycling bin system

·  Collect and recycle batteries - better yet switch to rechargeable

·  Sell, Swap or Recycle old mobile phones

It doesn’t stop there though, complete the cycle by buying items that are recycled such as stationary, toilet paper, remanufactured toner cartridges and cleaning products sold in recycled containers. By ‘closing the loop’ you are helping to reduce the amount of new products being made and increasing your workplace sustainability.

  1. Black Gold: Install a compost system in your office; coffee, tea bags, food scraps, paper, old cotton dishcloths etc. can all be placed in your compost. You can then either use the compost to create an office garden (think of the joy picking your own fresh herbs, lettuce or strawberries), donate the scraps to a local community garden or maybe someone in your office would take them to improve their garden. Which leads us to our next point...
  1. Think global, act local: Where suitable buy local and fresh, avoid buying heavily packaged products. Transport and energy costs are reduced dramatically if we buy locally made products. Fresh food costs less to produce in dollars and emissions than frozen food. You might think this is a bit abstract for an office environment but stop and think about where your milk comes from. What about that tea or coffee you are drinking? Morning teas biscuits and cake? And of course lunches. Try and buy products that are local to you. When buying take away buy from businesses that work within this same local ethos.
  1.  Beat the Plastic: Limit or ban water bottles and plastic bags within your sustainable workplace. Encourage everyone to have BYO cup or two for use around the office and when visiting the local coffee shop. Create a share system for bags for your office by buying (and branding, if you wish) canvas bags that can be circulated around the office and cleaned periodically.
  1. You’ve got the power: Energy consumption is a massive area where simple steps can make a significant difference to your workplace sustainability. Take the time to examine the availability of renewable power sources such as wind, solar and bio-mass. Not able to find resources near you? Try offsetting your workplace create carbon through national and local schemes.
  1. Hit the streets: Need to get to meetings? Airport? Grab lunch? Reduce the amount of time spent solo in a car by using alternatives like carpooling, walking, public transport or biking. When hiring a car go with a provider that has eco options like gas/electric hybrid vehicles.
  1. Kitchen considerations: Some simple ways to create a more sustainable kitchen by reducing your energy consumption are;

·  Fill empty spaces in your fridge and freezer, but don’t over load them. To operate efficiently fridges need to be kept around two thirds full while freezers run best when they are three quarters full. The more air in the space, the more energy required to keep it cool. By filling large empty spaces within your fridge or freezer with water filled containers you can reduce the energy needed to run the appliance.

·  Reduce water wastage by washing up in the sink or use the dishwasher only when it is full.

·  Making a cuppa? If you’re using a jug to boil water only fill it as much as you require. If you have an instant water boiler buy a timer so it switches off overnight, saving both money and energy.



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