It seems as though life is slowly returning to some form of normalcy. For many, this means working from home will soon come to an end. Whether you are splitting your time between home and the office or returning to the office full-time, there are things you can do to create a more eco-friendly workspace. Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Reusable pens
How many pens do you have on your desk right now? It’s likely that your current writing instruments are not carbon-neutral, recyclable, or compostable. Luckily, there are a few companies that are now making eco-conscious pens to replace that pesky plastic. My favorite so far has been the Eco Pen Club. The Australia-based company sells writing products that are 100% recyclable and uses at least 50% less plastic than traditional pens. Additionally, Eco Pen Club partners with One Tree Planted to help with reforestation efforts for the Australian bushfires.
There are also helpful ways to dispose of your current plastic pens, such as TerraCycle and BIC’s recycling program. If you want to involve your coworkers, you can always offer to collect plastic pens around the office and donate them to a local recycling program.
2. Update your mailing list
If your office sends out direct mail, consider reevaluating your mailing list. Removing anyone who hasn’t done business with you in years can save you a lot of money and paper. If you really want to reduce your paper use, ask new customers to provide emails instead of physical addresses and move all mailing online. While you’re at it, remove yourself from any mailing lists that you’re still on but don’t plan on using or reading.
3. Bring your own reusable water bottle
Here’s an example of something small that you can start doing on your own! Most communal offices have a water station with paper or plastic cups to accommodate when employees are thirsty. Ditch the disposable cups by bringing your own reusable bottle to work.
My favorite has been Hydro Flask, which offers stainless steel bottles in different sizes and are meant to keep your drink cold (or hot) all day long.
4. Go digital when possible
Over the past year, I didn’t have a printer for at-home use. This means my eyes got very familiar with staring and reading on a computer screen. While this may not be optimal all the time, transitioning to digital platforms will greatly reduce paper waste. There are plenty of computer and mobile applications that can replace your need for a paper planner. Apps such as Calendly and Doodle can help keep track of meetings and appointments with ease and convenience. For scenarios where paper is needed, remember to print double-sided to downsize what is being used.
5. Install motion sensor lights
It’s a good idea to turn off the lights in an unused room to lessen your carbon footprint, save energy, and lower your electricity bill. I know it can get annoying to constantly turn on/off lights in your office, conference rooms, or bathrooms. That’s why I recommend installing motion sensor lights to do the job for you! You can program lights to turn off after a few seconds of no movement. This way, you can continue going about your business while seamlessly reducing the amount of energy your office uses.
Want to take it a step further? Office lights and electricity can be solar powered. Learn more about what type of solar panels might work best.
6. Try responsibly-sourced coffee
For many, drinking coffee in the morning is essential to stay focused throughout the day. There are a few ways that you can ensure your coffee consumption is also eco-friendly. First off, always use reusable coffee mugs rather than a styrofoam or plastic cup. This is a quick and easy way to reduce your amount of waste. Also, try to avoid keurig coffee machines since most k-cups are made of nonrecyclable plastics. Instead, you should manually brew coffee whenever possible.
When choosing a coffee, you should also consider purchasing from fair trade brands. Fair trade coffee is sourced following guidelines that ensure improved living conditions for the farmers and laborers who produce the coffee.
7. Hand dryers in the bathroom
The Climate Conservancy reports that for each use, paper towels can potentially cause up to 5 times more carbon emissions than using a high-efficiency hand dryer. Not to mention, installing hand dryers in shared bathrooms will also greatly decrease your office’s amount of garbage. If the price of hand dryers is not an option right now, then make sure you are using recyclable paper towels that do not come in plastic packaging. I recommend trying Reel for paper towels and toilet paper.
It doesn’t matter if you’re working from a personal office or communal workspace. These simple tips can help you and your coworkers to reduce waste and save energy!