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Is your office eco-friendly?

Is your office eco-friendly?

An eco-friendly office is key to attracting and retaining staff

Environmental initiatives have never been more prevalent with many admitting to changing their habits to become ‘greener’, but while most individuals are aware of what they can do in the home, the workplace is a different matter.

Almost three quarters (73 percent) of people want their office to improve sustainability, and a poor or non-existent CSR policy can actually deter prospective employees from joining your company, with nearly a quarter (24 percent) claiming they would refuse a job at an organisation with a poor sustainability record. Prospective employees shouldn’t be afraid to ask during an interview about an organisation’s CSR policy – as every company should have one, and employers should be happy to give details about the ‘green’ steps they are taking.

Creating an eco-friendly office isn’t the sole responsibility of the employer though, every member of staff has a part to play. The good news is there are a number of really simple changes everyone can get onboard with.

Water bottles

In hot weather a water bottle is a commuter staple, but many still purchase single-use plastic bottles on the move to stay hydrated. Companies should encourage employees to buy reusable bottles or better still, provide everyone in the office with a company-branded reusable flask.

Recycling

Most companies recycle the obvious items like paper and card, but certain plastics, printer cartridges and electrical equipment can also be recycled, so it’s important offices have recycle bins for all types of waste. Ultimately though, businesses should be looking to reduce their amount of recycling and initiatives like a paper-free office and using rechargeable batteries can really make a difference.

Air conditioning

Aircon is always a bone of contention in the office, with some staff complaining they are too cold with it on and others too hot with it off. Regardless of internal disagreements, aircon isn’t great for the environment, so although it may be a necessity in hot weather, offices should try to avoid using it where possible and opt for open windows and fresh air instead.

Switch off

To save energy in the workplace, electrical items such as computers, printers, photocopiers and TVs should always be switched off at night, not left on standby. It’s a common misconception that equipment on standby won’t waste energy, when in fact a couple of monitors left on standby could cost a business hundreds of Euros a year.

Bring your own lunch

Not only will you save money by bringing your own lunch to work, but providing it’s in reusable containers and you have reusable cutlery, it will help reduce food and packaging waste. What you pack in your lunch box can also make a difference – meat and dairy are responsible for producing 60% of agriculture greenhouse gasses, so limiting your consumption of these will also help to minimise your impact on the environment.

Plant power

Plants make an office literally greener, but they also have numerous health benefits. Plants produce oxygen, which offsets toxins released into the air from office furniture. What’s more, research has found that the presence of plants in an office can also prevent sick days and reduce stress by stabilising the air in poorly ventilated workplaces – just don’t forget to water them!

If every office commits to taking these small steps it will significantly reduce businesses’ environmental impact. Employers can help incentivise staff by creating weekly or monthly ‘green’ challenges and getting onboard with public initiatives like #PlasticFreeJuly. How you go about it doesn’t matter, but to keep current employees happy and recruit new members of staff, a robust CSR policy is essential.