Responsibility for the environment starts with good practice in the office

We are all responsible for the future of the earth, to save our precious resources for the next generations. There is much that business owners can do to reduce the negative impact of their business processes on the environment. No change is too small, it’s good to adopt an ‘every little helps’ mentality.

So what can you do?

Most offices these days have computers and other electrical equipment. When you buy a new appliance, ensure it has a good energy rating.

Education is important. Make sure all your employees know that they must turn their computers off at the end of the day. A poster in the office can serve as a handy reminder. However, it is easy to forget, so if you can automate any energy saving measures then do so. Set computers to go into sleep mode after a period of inactivity. Ensure that flashy screen savers do not kick in, instead choose the option for no screen saver. Another handy tip, that could also save you money, is to reduce the size of the monitors used. For some roles, a large screen is not necessary. Smaller screens use less electricity, they’re also cheaper to buy.

good practice in the officeWater is also a valuable commodity and with a few changes you can dramatically reduce your usage. Install flush saver devices in the toilets to reduce the amount of water used with each flush.

If you’re replacing wash basins, opt for taps that turn off automatically, your employees will then only use the water they need and won’t be able to leave the taps running accidentally. This can also help to avoid a flood!

In the kitchen, put up a sign asking people to only fill the kettle with as much water as they need, there’s no point boiling an entire kettle of water for just one cup of coffee. Avoid wasteful disposable cups, stirrers and sachets of sugar, these account for a lot of waste. If you can, buy local or fair-trade kitchen supplies.

Heating can be a big drain on energy in an office. When you’re inactive, you feel the cold more than when you’re moving about. Encourage staff to wear an extra layer of clothing in cooler weather, and to take regular breaks to walk around and get the circulation going. Hopefully this will allow you to set your thermostat a few degrees lower, saving you money, and the environment too. A weekly timer for your heating thermostat can be very useful, there’s no point heating the office on a weekend or over the holidays if there is no one there. Just make sure you have it a minimum setting to prevent water pipes freezing.

Install energy saving light bulbs and you’ll be saving quite a bit of energy, they also last longer so you should find you don’t have to replace them so often. A sign beside the light switches to remind people to turn them off can be helpful, or designate someone the task of checking every area before they leave to make sure that no lights or electrical devices are left on overnight. Automatic lights for bathrooms can be installed too.

eco friendly officeOffices can waste paper in huge amounts. These days there’s no need for this. Notes can be made on the computer, correspondence can be sent via email. When you do need a hard copy, set your printers to utilise both sides of the paper. This will cut your paper usage in half. When paper is no longer needed, be sure to recycle it. Packaging materials can also be reused or recycled.

Always think before you print something out. Do you really need a hard copy of it? Or can it simply be stored as a digital copy? This saves paper and it saves on storage space too. All printers have a draft mode that uses less ink, set this as your default setting and only change it for those documents that really need to be printed in high quality. Unless you really need colour, set your printer to print in black and white only.

Vehicles are also a big drain on resources. Encourage your staff to cycle or walk to work. A simple rack of umbrellas available to borrow, can make a walk home from work much more pleasant, and a secure area to leave bicycles is a must. A car sharing system can also be very helpful, and will save your employees some money on fuel in the process. Working from home can also be a good option where possible.

Modern video-conferencing technologies are very good, you really do feel like you’re in the room together. It’s the perfect alternative to travelling to meetings, it saves a lot of time too. Google Hangout is a great solution for SMEs.

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