With 2017 already almost fading from view in our rear-view mirrors, we may be forgiven for hoping that 2018 will be a ‘better year’. Thing is, not much gets better unless we make it so. We suggest, then, better not wait for ‘something good’ to happen, but to make something good happen, for its own sake. We take a look at how to make your office greener.
It really doesn’t matter what office you are in –you might even be in leading business or NGO which promotes all things good and green. But we bet you that you could make your office that bit greener if you really tried and wanted to. And for all the rest of those out there in ‘office land’, chances are that there are any number of ways you could directly and personally contribute to greening your office space. Greening the office is not merely a ‘feel good’ undertaking, though it almost always ticks that particular box. It helps to directly improve office working conditions and contributes in a measureable way to improved functionality of those in the office, improved inter-personal relations and overall better performance, productivity and a healthier bottom line. The ‘how to’ part has been covered by us many times. But most offices and offices spaces, while perhaps going quite deep green in some respects, have remained but a pale washy green in others. The trick is to look for what’s being missed.
Here’s an obvious one. The so-called ‘paperless office’ which the digital age was to introduce is an obvious joke. Even we at Simply Green, being digital publishers, are inundated with paperwork – one needs it just to keep track and a record that doesn’t disappear into the vanished cloud when the internet is down or into a black hole when a hard drive goes down on a permanent basis. Paper still is with us and in one form or the other will remain so for a while to come. So what paper does your office use? Is it recycled in whole or part? Is it bleached – meaning it is whiter than white? While that’s good for appearances, it means that somewhere a paper manufacturer was using a bleaching process, probably chlorine-based, with any number of potential downstream negative implications for riverine systems, if that plant not be up to eco-scratch, or has a failure in its pre-release water systems. Does it really matter if your office stationary is off-white? Investigate your office stationary supplies and see where, not only with the paper, those are being sourced. Include just about everything from pens to paperclips – any opportunity to potentially get a less eco-intensive product when it comes to manufacturing and supply. The toner or ink that goes into your printers is no exception – and all cartridges simply must be recycled or sent for proper disposal, not thrown in
the general rubbish.
LOCAL IS BETTER
There is a rule in greening that says local is almost always better, all other things about a product being equal. But you can go a step better: actively seek out local alternative suppliers for everything in your office, from the usual to coffee cups, paper plates or anything else used, and select those suppliers and products with the best eco credentials and practices. Doing the previous step may also prove to be much cheaper with some products, while with others you’ll be shaving many carbon kilometres from your collective office debt, albeit at a small premium in direct costs.
And, by the way and if you did not already know, measuring a business’s carbon footprint is not, in the near future, going to be some obscure exercise in pseudo-measures of how good a business you run or are a part of; it is going to become a critical criterion for any supplying either or both overseas and local markets. So local is better until proven otherwise, as when there really is no local alternative to a greener product which is made in foreign climes. On the other hand, enough such opportunities, plus demand, equals another business which could be locally grown, so don’t let your suppliers’ excuses stand – put pressure on them to source local suppliers or encourage local manufacturers to produce greener goods.
What about a few plants in the office? There may have been previous failed attempts in that direction, or you may feel it is the business’s job to supply such, in which case, ask for them. Any office manager who does not see and understand the upside of having at least some healthy and flourishing office plants about the place is still living in the 19th century and, in our world, would get a good talking to. Plants help people feel better, they provide healthy fresh oxygen, literally eat CO2 for breakfast lunch and supper, and they brighten the place up considerably.
Studies have been done (and no, we aren’t going to cite them because that’s just tedious and boring and you can look them up for yourselves, if so inclined, in this internet age) which clearly show improved productivity, staff retention, work attendance rates, high morale and happiness of staff and an improvement in just about every other parameter worth discussing when suitable and sufficient plant life is distributed about the office space. If your scroungy office manager won’t get any plants, then get a couple for your own desk space and area – and then when workmates say how nice your zone has become get them to lean on Mr or Ms Scrooge and see how long before they crack. Besides, it’s a no-brainer since it simply helps people do their work better.
If you decide you are going to be an official or unofficial office greener, then keep your eyes open for opportunities – and there will be plenty. How is the office trash separated, if at all? If not, at least taking paper, plastics and metal cans out of the general junk for separate recycling will help a lot and this can even earn a bit of revenue if you make a deal with a local recycler. What happens to all those little canisters of a well-known coffee brand after it has satisfied your desire be as cool as George Clooney? Those little blighters are turning into a major landfill item, believe it or not, and there’s a big push overseas to recycle them – but why not so much here? And so it goes – there will always be opportunities to make your office, even a really green one, that little bit or a whole lot greener.
Make 2018 better by doing your bit and improving your zone – working together, each one in our own zones, spaces and areas of responsibility, we can have a collectively huge effect on the world. And in the end, history has taught us that it is always the committed few who make the real differences in the most important developments, improvements and transformations that have made our lives way more liveable than once they may have been. So this year, let it be you who makes the difference in making your office a greener, nicer space to work in, and, if nothing else, you will enjoy work more.