Promoting Sustainable Environmental Practices in your Workplace

GEMMA COLLINS DOYLE

Health and Safety Consultant at EazySAFE

A greener workplace can help you as a company lighten your ecological footprint, create environmental awareness, with the added benefits of creating a healthier and more productive workplace, which in turn is great news for the bottom line.

The following tips are by no means an exhaustive list of how you can start promoting environmental awareness in your workplace, but it’s a starting point!

“There is no question that climate change is happening; the only arguable point is, what part humans are playing in it”

SIR DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

Power it down!

Wow! It’s amazing the amount of electrical products that can be left in a standby mode every evening. Be sure that all electrical equipment is fully shut down at the end of the day, all those little red lights left on for months and months all add up to your carbon footprint and your bills! Use compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent ones. Take advantage of natural sunlight as much as possible.

Green Transport

Consider the Bike to Work scheme, provide a safe place to park bikes up etc. Encourage and help organise car-pooling (and who knows maybe even a bit of car pool karaoke!) Promote walking to work or taking public transport. Every car off the road makes a difference to air pollution and to the traffic! Creating environmental awareness around the use of transport is always a step in the right direction, so ensure that your policy on this is included in your environmental awareness training.

Go easy on the Paper!

It’s a habit we are all guilty of…….printing off documents when don’t really need them. Make it a bit more inconvenient to print by setting your printer up with a password that needs to be entered before printing, it might make you think again about printing that 100 page report (when you really only need to look at 10 pages of it!). Go digital on your documents. The greenest paper is no paper at all, so keep things digital whenever possible. The more you do online, the less you need paper.

Get serious about your Waste Streams

We all know the three R’s at this stage, but do we really take them seriously? It’s very easy to contaminate a whole bin of recyclable waste by placing the wrong item in the wrong bin. Make it easy for employees, colour code bins, use pictograms for each waste stream and most importantly ensure all employees complete environmental awareness training, which should include the company’s policy on waste!

Use Green Materials

There is such a range of environmentally friendly products out there, you are sure to find ones that suit your budget and your needs. On average, they only cost 5% more, which is a small price to pay to reduce waste and pollution. Start small by swapping materials in the office area; 100% recycled paper, refillable ink cartridges, non- toxic stationary items etc. Encourage your cleaning company to swap over to environmentally friendly products.

Make Eco-Friendly Food Choices

Why not think about promoting the 100mile (or less!) diet – Local first; organic for high consumption foods, not only is this friendly for the planet, but it’s also great for local businesses. What about going Veggie for the next company lunch?! Cutting down on meat can have a huge impact on the health of our planet. The more animals we eat the more land we need to farm them and the more food we need to grow to feed them.

“Not only does working from home eliminate the need for travel, but also adds time to an employee’s day and can have a positive effect on their wellbeing.”

Working from Home

Does your company have a policy for working from home? Consider allowing this for certain positions, maybe even one day a month or more if possible. Not only does it eliminate the need for travel, but also adds time to an employee’s day and can have a positive effect on their wellbeing. Instant messaging, video conferencing, and other tools have made working from home a possibility. If you can work from home, hold phone conferences, take online classes give it a try. As a bonus, you get to work in your pyjamas!

Water is Life!

Yes, water has had a lot of air time over the last two years in Ireland and unfortunately for all the wrong reasons! Regardless of whether we live in country that is arid or wet, water is a commodity that we should not take for granted. Every glass you pour has had to go through some sort of process, which in turn is a use of energy and/or chemicals. So, be sure to promote the conservation of water in your workplace, fix leaking pipes, install push taps, encourage employees to take short showers (if you provide them) use water saving appliances etc. For bigger companies, water conservation should be an area of priority, time and investment must be given to ensure that it is in keeping with the company water policy.

Educate and Train!

Make sure all your employees are up to speed with your environmental policies. Get them involved and ask their opinions on how you can all work greener. Get your company involved with local environmental groups and encourage your employees to do so too. Ensure you educate new employees in your environmental policies and procedures by including them in your Environmental Awareness Training course.

It’s easy to make a difference, it’s all about making the effort and knowing that we all have an impact on this beautiful planet of ours. Don’t underestimate the power one person, one company or one community can have when it comes to creating a sustainable future for this planet of ours and for the next generation.

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