One of the latest terms in office procedures and office setup is “Eco-friendly.” That broad term refers to items, practices, procedures and standards that do not harm the environment. It applies to everything from printer paper to cloud computing.
What Eco-Friendly Really Means
While people use the term to loosely refer to products contributing to environmental sustainability, green living, or conservation practices, the government provides specific criteria before an item can refer to itself in this manner. Each item wishing to label itself as an eco- or environmentally friendly alternative must provide an environmental product declarations (EPDs) containing quantifiable environmental data that validates their ability to function comparatively to products made the standard way. This documents both the manner of preventing or reducing air pollution, land degradation or water pollution and the product’s efficacy.
Eco-friendly products can refer to non-toxic items, organically or sustainably grown or raised plants or animals, biodegradable products and those made from recycled materials including glass, plastic, metal or wood.
While a vast number of methods and products exist for greening your office, you can whittle it down to a few with which to get started. Try these three methods that instantly reduce waste and cut costs.
Operating in the Cloud
Create a paperless office by choosing electronic methods of document creation, storage and approvals. Rather than print each document or email, use cloud apps and storage to access items on laptops, tablets and mobile phones. This reduction in printing saves money, landfill space, energy and speeds processing. Even modern payroll systems use software as a service (SaaS) to enable an all-electronic entry, approval and pay disbursement. Set a company-wide printing reduction policy to mandate these savings.
Today’s office suites also provide SaaS options enabling staff to create, share and edit documents online without needing to print. Options like Google’s and Microsoft’s products provide spreadsheets, word processing, database and publishing options.
Institute a Recycling Program
Unlike switching to eco-items, this choice costs nothing, not even additional time. You can set up a recycling bin next to the trash can. Rather than dump paper into the trash, drop in the recycling bin. Most major cities now offer recycling pick up as well as trash removal.
Add bins for aluminum cans and plastics, too. Recycling aluminum actually pays you. You’ll reduce waste going into the landfills and potentially save money. That’s because some cities charge once you hit a certain number of trash bins or you overfill your dumpster.
Reduce Breakroom Waste
Your breakroom probably contains a number of items you could replace with a more ecological alternative. The great news is it will cost you less. Why? Because you’re likely using paper or Styrofoam cups and plates, plastic cutlery and single-serving or pre-packaged coffee pods. You throw it all away in the end.
Purchase permanent plates, cups and cutlery. Wash them after each use and reuse them. You can even purchase reusable pod cups for pod coffee makers that let you use regular ground coffee, then rinse and re-use the pod cup.
Going green as it is called takes time. You can turn your office into an eco-friendly one though. While you’ll find many more ways to transition to more environmentally friendly methods, these three give you a jump on the major environmental and office costs. You can be the hero of your next board meeting when you show the massive cost savings you affected by switching to sustainable products and methods. Institute “Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.” in your office environment.
Salman is a prolific environmental writer, and has authored more than 300 articles in reputed journals, magazines and websites. He is proactively engaged in creating mass awareness on renewable energy, waste management, sustainability and conservation all over the world.
Salman can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org.