As I am sure we’re all aware, it was Earth Day just a few days ago. There’s a good chance that you shared or liked a video on social media and maybe even pledged to discontinue your use of plastic straws (or at least stopped complaining about the use of paper straws at your favourite bar) – but how many of us are willing to go out of our way during our 9-6 day job to make a difference?

Just like me, I’m guessing that your initial reaction to this rhetoric was “I just don’t have time during my working day” or “my boss won’t allow me time out of my day, never mind additional resources to be able to implement this”. And these are valid hinderances. It does take time to make changes to the working environment, but guess what? We all need to implement change. Now.

Many ways in which we can all be eco-friendly within the office environment are surprisingly cost-effective – particularly in the long-term – and don’t require continuous time and efforts. Here are a few ideas for how we can all make an ecological difference:

  • Introduce a ‘bring-your-own-reusable-bottle’ initiative to save on the amount of disposal water bottle and coffee cups that end up thrown in the trash. This could be something as small as a Starbucks gift card as a reward (but remember to and them your own flask when using it!)
  • Go paperless. This is a given in our tech-saturated era, yet it’s surprising how many rather pointless documents are printed when they could be shared/viewed on just the screen. I’m sure that we can all think of at least one meeting over the last month in which you printed of documents that are never used in paper format ever again.
  • Clearly label recycling bins that all employees are fully aware of the materials that can disposed of in a responsible manner. If your boss allows you the budget, you could even invest in a TerraCycle, which allows for zero-waste by being able to throw in certain plastics and others non-recyclables that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
  • Install LED bulbs. Most offices have switched to these, and for good reason, they use around 75% less energy and can last more than three times as long.

Making the office eco-friendly can also happy while we’re not even working:

  • Incentivise eco-friendly commute methods. Think of some rewards that would appeal to the team for riding a bike, taking public transport or even carpooling. Not only will this strengthen the bonds between some employees, but this could also create a friendly-competitive atmosphere if, for example, there was a bicycle challenge.
  • Invest in smart power strips. Devices that are left plugged in constantly use around 5-10% more energy than those get unplugged after each use. This is because ‘phantom’ power (or standby power) is still wasting energy! Smart power strips do the work for you by shutting off all power to the device when it is not in use for a period of time.

Some of these may seem like they might not make a huge difference, but if every single office in the world implemented a few small changes. It would make a considerable difference. Start with your office and be the change that you want to see in the world.