You spend a large portion of your daily life at work. While you may consider your environmental impact at home, do you ever think about it while working? Most of the time, you want to do your job and go home to put your feet up.
However, thinking about your carbon footprint at work can have a positive impact on the environment and work culture. Companies that adopt sustainable business practices also gains other benefits, such as reducing monthly utility bills and waste while becoming more socially responsible.
Many businesses struggle with implementing sustainable practices, but starting a green initiative at work begins at the personal level. From there, other employees may feel inspired to adopt similar practices, and the company may incorporate some of your ideas into their sustainable business practices. When you want to go green at work, try these environmentally friendly initiatives:
1. Change How You Commute
Solo commuting has as much of an environmental impact as flying, but carpooling with coworkers with three to a car has a low impact, more like taking a train. Technology to regulate and reduce air pollutant emission in ground and air transportation is getting better all the time, but for now, it’s important to consider the alternatives.
Consider mass-transit options, such as taking the bus or train. Even carpooling with one other coworker has a positive environmental impact. Can you bike on sunny days during the spring and fall? What if you park a little farther away?
If you must drive a personal car as your daily form of commuting, another idea is to purchase a natural gas vehicle or hybrid car.
2. Change How You Work
Telecommuting can offer employees a way to go green while improving work-life balance.
Millennials are now the largest generation at work, and with the growth of tech industries, this generation has motivated more companies to offer flextime and remote work possibilities. As of 2015, 37 percent of companies support flexible work options within their policies, per surveyed millennial employees, and online apps, platforms and conferencing tools such as Basecamp and Skype help employees stay connected and on-task.
Can you do some or all of your duties from home? Approach your boss to consider an experiment in flexible work options for the whole company, as telecommuters have been proven to be even more productive working from home. For example, one company, CTRIP, ran a nine-month trial to let employees work from home, and the company saved $1,900 per employee on expenses such as office space and furniture. Now, consider a similar impact on utility bills.
When companies save money, it could also free up room in their budget to offer better benefits packages to employees as a result. Bring the stats to your employer, and make your case for telecommuting. Having the option to work at home one or two days a week can also have a major impact.
3. Recycle at Work
Does your company have a recycling program? If not, why not start one? Talk to co-workers about forming a small team and becoming sustainability champions who promote eco-education — and start by creating a recycling program at your office.
Round up old furniture and equipment that still have some life left in them and donate everything to a charity that hires and trains people with disabilities, or to donation centers that refurbish electronics, such as Goodwill. You can drop off broken equipment and used ink cartridges to big electronic and supply stores that have safe recycling programs, such as Best Buy and Staples.
If all else fails, start recycling on your own. Set a sealed green container under your desk and fill it with cardboard and cans. If you work with sensitive information and confidential information, talk to your boss for approval, or simply exclude paper.
You can also bring your own coffee to work or use LED lights in tabletop desk lamps. Take similar small steps to reduce your environmental impact while on the job.
Approach coworkers and management to discuss employee environmental impact. Provide suggestions to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, including improving how you commute, how you work and what you do with waste. Small steps are the key to getting started with creating a green initiative at work, and every contribution, no matter how small, has a positive impact on our planet.