Greening Employee Community Areas

The following post comes to us from Garrett Stembridge at Extra Space Storage in Baltimore, MD.  With Green Wish’s focus on locally-impactful environmental charities and the work they do, what’s more local than our respective corporate offices and workspaces where we all spend hours each day?  The following are some great ideas for how to implement greener ideas at work.

greeningcommunityareasBuilding Blocks of a More Eco-Friendly Workplace

Having an Earth friendly work space is good for the environment, can save your business lots of money, and might even help your employees feel healthier, happier and more closely connected. Eco-awareness at the office is all about teamwork and making it easy for everyone to pitch in and make a difference. Let’s focus on some of the places we share and the initiatives we can take together to make all the aspects of what we do a little greener.

Gimme a Break

The break room is a great focal point for eco-friendliness and can serve as your company’s hub of sustainability. Because meals and beverages are prepared in this room it oftentimes produces a fair amount of trash and a bevy of recycling opportunities. Here are some ideas for creating an environmentally conscious facility.

  • Provide reusable dishes, silverware, and glasses. Use napkins made from recycled paper. Ban the Styrofoam cup and celebrate the coffee mug.
  • Promote an atmosphere conducive to employees bringing their lunch to work. Brown-bagging it saves money and time.
  • Switch to Fair Trade and organic coffee and tea. For parties and events try shopping at your local farmers market.
  • Forget the water cooler and consider installing water filters. Ditch all those paper cups and go with reusable water bottles.
  • Get rid of any harsh cleaning products you may have. Clean more green with the newer, non-toxic alternatives that are better for you and better for your indoor air quality.
  • Adopt a live house plant. They will need some water and some love but plants add natural beauty and absorb indoor pollution.
  • Place recycling bins in accessible, high traffic areas and provide clear information about what can and what cannot be recycled.

The break room is also a place people congregate to relax, decompress and share thoughts and ideas. It is an ideal spot to post information and get everyone thinking about other ways to minimize negative environmental impact.

Rediscover the Joys of Carpooling

Most workdays begin with the commute to the office in the morning and conclude with the return trip home in the evening. About 78 percent of Americans make this drive by themselves. Carpooling with co-workers can help the environment by cutting down on CO2 emissions from automobiles and might alleviate some of the headaches caused by snarled traffic. You’ll also get a chance to really get to know some of the people that you work with and save some serious cash by splitting what you have to pay at the pump.

Paper Trail

It is estimated that the average office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of paper every year. Clearly, one of the most important green office projects is to figure out effective ways to reduce paper waste. Here are some environmentally-minded ideas to implement.

  • Go digital whenever you can. Keep handbooks and presentations on your network where they can be searched, accessed, and stored. Use email to send and receive paperless documents.
  • Invest in double-sided printers and make it a habit to use the back side of old documents for scrap paper and rough drafts.
  • Avoid color printing and print in draft mode whenever you can. Be sure to recycle old ink cartridges.
  • Consider switching to a lighter stock of paper or alternatives made from bamboo, hemp or organic cotton.

It is important to take time, be mindful and think before you print. Also, be sure your company has been removed from the mailing lists of unwanted catalogs, newsletters and junk mail.

Last One Out…Hit the Lights

Companies in America waste billions of dollars worth of electricity every year. Some of this is unavoidable but there are some simple ways you can help your business save energy.

  • Utilize natural light wherever you can. It doesn’t get any cheaper than free.
  • Be sure to use Energy Star-rated light bulbs and fixtures to conserve energy.
  • Make a habit of turning lights off when you leave a room and using timers and motion sensors that shut lights off when they’re not needed.
  • Put your computer on “stand by” or “hibernation” when you won’t be using it for more than 15 minutes and make sure you turn it completely off before you leave for the day. Unfortunately, screen savers do not save energy.
  • Consider switching you old desktop computer for a laptop and be 80 percent more energy efficient.

There are many ways to run a more environmentally conscious business and most of them are just good little habits that everyone can get into and be aware of. Instilling a company-wide mantra to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” and listening to new ideas from your entire workforce will ensure your company evolves towards a greener future.

Do you feel your company considers the environment when making business decisions?

Have you been a part of implementing any new recycling programs at work?

Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for homes and for businesses. Many Extra Space Storage locations, including several in Baltimore, have been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.