How to create an environmentally friendly office

 

Stepping up to the challenge of making your office a more eco-friendly place can be a daunting task. But, understanding the impacts that even small changes can have can help engage your team and motivate along your way towards a more environment-friendly office. Discovering how to make an eco-friendly office and what the steps are you should take can be the most difficult part. So, why not take a look at our environmentally friendly tips and ideas to help you get started.

 
Cardboard desk set-up demonstrating reducing plastic in the office
 

Eco-friendly tips for your office

Here are some eco-friendly ideas and techniques that you can implement in almost any office space. We’ve also created a handy little table for you to add up how eco your office currently is, and your progress making positive changes for you, your staff and your business:

 

1. Recycle as much as you can (+10 Points)

This may be a fairly straightforward idea, however, many businesses stumble at this first hurdle. Take a look around your office, do you have a clear and effective system in place to manage your waste? Are your staff informed on exactly what can and can’t be recycled? Is it easy for them to follow your waste disposal system? Are your staff on board with your recycling goals? If not, getting a plan in place and finding a way to engage your staff will be key to recycling as much as you can. Our top tips are to find a way to make recycling as easy as possible for your staff, and to keep them engaged on an ongoing basis by raising the topic more frequently and celebrating progress.

 
Man in suit recycling plastic bottle in office recycling bins
 

2. Composting or recycling food waste (+5 Points)

Whilst it may be easier to see the importance of recycling items like plastics, cans and cardboard, recycling or composting your food waste can have a bigger impact than you might think. Food waste that is sent to landfill becomes buried and decomposes without access to oxygen in the air. This means that as the food rots harmful gasses that damage the atmosphere are released. When food is composted with access to oxygen however, food waste breaks-down differently producing hardly any methane (the greenhouse gas that is produced when food waste decomposes without access to oxygen, and that is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide!).

So, by recycling or composting your food waste you will not only help to ensure you’re removing any smelly and potentially un-hygienic waste regularly; you’ll also be reducing waste in landfills and your office’s carbon footprint. What’s more, food waste sent for recycling can sometimes be used to generate electricity, heat or transport fuels, and if you have an office garden or outdoor space, food that you compost can be a nutrient-rich food for plant and soil health.

 
Food Waste Recycling chalkboard list from recyclenow
Source: https://www.recyclenow.com/recycling-knowledge/food-waste/why-recycle

Here’s a handy checklist from recylenow for what food waste you should recycle. Their website has lots of helpful hints and information to help you get started.

 

3. Avoid non-biodegradable or single-use bin liners (+3 Points)

Generic bin liners or plastic bags used in bins can be extremely harmful to the environment as they cannot decompose and will remain as plastic impacting plants, wildlife and even ourselves. Try to purchase bio-degradable liners, and where possible, where you might have clean waste or where you might have cleanable waste bins or boxes, try not to use any bag at all. In many offices’ employees may have their own or share many smaller bins. These can be transferred to one central bin containing an appropriate liner. This may be a great option that also saves you money in the process.  

 

4. Purchase sustainably sourced supplies and products made from recycled materials (+5 Points)

There are many options available in today’s market for choosing a more sustainable, eco-friendly product. Do you know what your office supplies are made from or where their materials come from? Some examples of products which you could replace with recycled alternatives are:

  • Pens
  • Pencils
  • Paper
  • Notebooks
  • Business Cards

Although in some cases these products may have a higher price tag, they are often of a higher quality and may in some cases last longer.

One of the most commonly used and universal stationery items is the notebook. Recent developments and creations have meant there are now some great, more eco-friendly options out there. One of our favourites is the Rocketbook. This clever notebook is reusable and with just a drop of water you can erase any old notes and start again with fresh, clean paper. Another option if you’re a fan of a more classic notebook is from Paper Republic which provides a wide range of refillable and high-quality paper journals.

 

5. Implement and Invest in re-usable containers (+2 Points)

Re-usable containers are a brilliant option to implement in your office. Not only are they often a lot better quality than the containers provided by café’s and stores, they also significantly help to reduce the amount of plastic waste being dropped in land-fills. Why not try making Tupperware or reusable cups available to your staff for them to take to the café at lunch or for meeting coffees?

 

6. Rechargeable batteries (+3 Points)

Offices often burn though batteries extremely fast, whether they’re being used for wireless mice, keyboards or other electrically appliances. Purchasing rechargeable batteries not only helps reduce waste but can prove more economical avoiding the regular purchasing of new batteries.

 

7. Utilise natural light in your office space (+4 Points)

Most often, when people are working, it’s daylight. This might be a bit different in the cold and dreary British winters, but where windows and skylights are in place, overhead lights and lamps may be unnecessary. Most bright and modern spaces should provide this and if not, it may be time to look at new options.

 

8. Avoid un-necessary printing (+10 Points)

Going completely digital can be a daunting task. However, you don’t have to go paperless immediately. To start with, try and encourage a policy of only printing when completely necessary and work from there. You’ll be amazed the amount of paper and ink you’ll save. When printing is needed, most modern printers are also capable of double-sided printing – which should further reduce the amount of paper needed by half.

 

9. Bring plants and foliage indoors (+5 Points)

Natural surroundings and plants in office spaces are known to improve the effectiveness and happiness of staff. Not only do they provide more oxygen which can lead to clearer thinking, they can also help to encourage a greener and more eco-friendly lifestyle. What’s more, there is the argument that office plants just look really nice!

 
Desk plant in office space
 

Some good options of office plants are as follows:

  • Cacti
  • Succulents
  • Aloe Vera
  • Palms
  • Rubber Plants
  • Ferns
  • Bay Trees

It’s important to get plants that don’t need too much attention and that will fit in with the aesthetic of your office. Usually large green plants and foliage are a good place to start.

You can also encourage employees to bring in their own desk plants. Which makes creating a greener office easier and helps to get everyone in the organisation involved.

 

10. Incentivise public transport and sustainable commuting (+10 Points)

Most office workers still drive to work. However, in many cases there are other options that are available; especially in cities and large towns. Incentivising the use of public transport, car sharing, walking, cycling and more will all help to have a huge reduction in your business’s overall carbon footprint.

These incentives could be a breakfast on arrival once a week, a team lunch or trip, or simply stocking up on people’s favourite biscuits.

 
Man in suit chooses sustainable travel cycling to work
 

11. Avoid the unnecessary use of air-con and heating (+10 Points)

Heating and cooling office space, no matter how large, is one of the main uses of energy in the work place. Air-con especially can use a huge amount of power. Therefore, avoiding the use of these amenities where possible can have a big impact. It is often possible on milder days to successfully regulate office temperatures through opening or closing doors and windows or closing curtains and blinds overnight. When it’s hot, try opening windows first before resorting to air-con, and when it’s cooler try to encourage warmer clothing as the solution before reaching for the heating controls.

It’s important to remember that a comfortable working temperature is important to productivity, so using these amenities are important in particularly hot or cold conditions.

 

12. Reusable straws (+3 Points)

There’s been a lot of coverage on the harm of using single-use plastic straws recently, with many large organisations now optioning for more eco-friendly solutions, like MacDonald’s switching to paper straws. If your, local café or regular office lunch spot is still using single-use plastic straws why not try suggesting a switch to paper straws. As you will well know, businesses care what their regular customers think!

 
Sustainable ideas - using reusable straws in the office
 

As for in the office, if straws are used you could consider providing or encouraging staff to bring reusable straws. Take a look at some reusable straw alternatives:

  • The Little Straw Company
  • FinalStraw
  • Joie Straws
  • U Konserve
  • Barbuzzo Ice Straws (these are a very ‘cool’ idea that has no waste)
  • Natural Wheat Drinking Straws

All these alternatives provide a sustainable option for straws. The idea for many of these straws is you purchase one and keep it forever.

On average the UK uses 8.5 billion straws every year. Therefore, Implementing and promoting the use of re-usable straws in your workplace is a great step to making your workplace more sustainable.

 

13. Use reusable bottles, glasses or mugs (+4 Points)

Ensuring your office space provides a range of glasses and cups is a great way to reduce the number of single-use plastic bottles or cups being used. Asking or suppling your employees with a reusable bottle can help to reduce the number of these single-use products being thrown away on a daily basis. If you have a water dispenser or fountain, make glasses available instead or single-use cups. If you have a coffee machine, make mugs available instead of take-aways.

 

14. Environmentally friendly cleaning products (+3 Points)

Non-recyclable wipes and cleaning bottles are just a few of the more obscure environmental offenders that your office may be allowing. Try to bear disposal in mind when purchasing cleaning products, as well as how harmful the chemicals used are. Try to look out for conscious brands such as ‘Ecover’ and ‘Method’ and find products that don’t put harsh chemicals into our environment and waterways. This is a great way to let a simple switch that you won’t even notice improve your businesses carbon footprint and make your workplace more sustainable.

 

14. Invest in good cutlery (+2 Points)

No one likes plastic cutlery. It often breaks and is awful for the environment. Purchasing a good set of cutlery will not only improve the overall experience of your staff, but also help to stop plastic waste from stores and cafes in your office.

This is one of the main areas Tanshire Park’s own Pavilion Café has taken important strides to reducing.

 

15. Sustainability Task Force (+12 Points)

A task force may seem quite extreme. However, ensuring there’s a few people which can help to inform and enforce your eco policies is a great way to see through your plans. People will also be able to think of new and innovative ways to reduce your carbon footprint further. There may be many ways beyond this list that could make a difference specifically in your office.

 

16. Smart Power Strips (+6 Points)

Smart power strips are a great piece of technology. Although they require a bit of an upfront investment, they may actually save you money in the long-run. Smart power strips work by stopping all power to a machine when it’s asleep. This can solve the issue of waste power or phantom power that occurs even when a pc or laptop is fully switched off.

 

17. Donate or recycle old electrical products (+5 Points)

Donating old electrical products to people who could use them is a great way to not only help the local community in your area, but it also helps to reduce harmful waste (which is often sent to poorer countries for breaking down). And if your product isn’t functional, you can always dispose of it correctly at your local tip or recycling centre. There are often parts which can be salvaged and recycled, allowing them to be used in new items.

 

18. Working remotely or from home (+4 Points)

Commuting to work is a huge factor in pollution and reducing the amount of traffic on our roads is a great way to reduce an offices carbon footprint. Encouraging working from home can not only have benefits for the environment it can also help to create a flexible and happy workplace, as depending on people’s schedules this kind of working environment can be very beneficial.

 

19. LED and eco-friendly lighting (+4 Points)

LED bulbs and other eco-friendly lighting use far less energy than standard halogen bulbs. This means that they’re not only far better for the environment they also can save your business money by reducing the bill and having a longer life-span.

 
Man changing lightbulb for eco-friendly alternative
 

20. Carbon Footprint or Eco Competitions (+10 Points)

Lastly, creating a bit of a competitive spirit in the workplace can often be very motivating. Therefore, putting this into something positive such as lowering your carbon footprint can be a great way to promote eco-friendly living both at home and in the workplace. An example competition could be completing a checklist of everything you could do to be more eco (such as not printing, cycling into work and more), and at the end of the competition providing awards and bragging rights to the winners.

Your business may not be able to implement all of these suggestions, but awareness and small incremental changes have growing positive impacts along the way. At Tanshire Park we’re proud to support these ideas and look forward to hearing about how any of these suggestions have helped your business become a more environmentally friendly workplace.

 

Your Office ECO Score

Points Summary:

  • Recycle as much as you can (+10 Points)
  • Composting or recycling food waste (+5 Points)
  • Avoid non-biodegradable or single-use bin liners (+3 Points)
  • Purchase sustainably sourced supplies and products made from recycled materials (+5 Points)
  • Implement and Invest in re-usable containers (+2 Points)
  • Rechargeable batteries (+3 Points)
  • Utilise natural light in your office space (+4 Points)
  • Avoid un-necessary printing (+10 Points)
  • Bring plants and foliage indoors (+5 Points)
  • Incentivise public transport and sustainable commuting (+10 Points)
  • Avoid the use of air-con and heating (+10 Points)
  • Reusable straws (+3 Points)
  • Use reusable bottles, glasses or mugs (+4 Points)
  • Environmentally friendly cleaning products (+3 Points)
  • Invest in good cutlery (+2 Points)
  • Sustainability Task Force (+12 Points)
  • Smart Power Strips (+6 Points)
  • Donate or recycle old electrical products (+5 Points)
  • Working remotely or from home (+4 Points)
  • LED and eco-friendly lighting (+4 Points)
  • Carbon Footprint or Eco Competitions (+10 Points)

Now calculate your score and use the below table to work out your next steps could be towards creating a more eco-friendly office.

  How eco is your office? Chart  

Eco Office Space at Tanshire Park

If you’re in need to modern office space, and being environmentally conscious is important to you, Tanshire Park may provide what you’re looking for. Nestled conveniently in the Surrey countryside, Tanshire Park offers a wealth of options to businesses of all sizes, and, as being environmentally conscious is important to us to, we’re delighted to support our businesses in taking greener steps. Feel free to browse our website for more information or get in touch, today to arrange a viewing.

To view our office’s energy performance rating’s please check through the office space overview pages.