The answer to the “What actually is sustainability?” question doesn’t seem like it should be a difficult one, but when it is applied to businesses, sometimes it becomes foggier than perhaps it should.
The simple answer, of course, is this: Sustainable workplaces find a steady equilibrium between profit, people and planet to attain success in both the short- and long-term.
But how is that pathway to success achievable, and what are actionable steps to get there? What follows are some tips and tricks to help create a workplace environment that is serious about sustainability and meets those goals. Let’s look at some quick and easy ways to create a sustainable workplace.
How can your workplace be more sustainable?
As the world slowly begins to take climate change more seriously, everyone needs to do their part to shrink their carbon footprint. This includes businesses, who, depending on what they do, can have hugely significant impacts on the environment.
But while many companies are interested in creating a greener workplace for both employees and customers to enjoy, the notion of transitioning to a different way of daily life can be overwhelming. Thankfully, there are plenty of steps businesses can follow to begin their journey that aren’t too difficult to implement.
Introduce a sustainable strategy/policy
It’s always best to start at the beginning. Creating a list of goals and a comprehensive plan on how to achieve those goals can catapult you forward into a plan that makes the most sense for your particular business. It involves everyone, to keep the whole workplace accountable, and doesn’t require asking a lot from any one person—starting small, like attempting to reduce waste during lunch breaks, is a good way to kick things off.
So long as the entire company commits and approves of the plan and where it’s headed, this can turn the scary concept of a sustainable strategy into something that’s easy to absorb and act upon.
Reduce energy consumption
It may sound like an enormous task to reduce the amount of energy your company uses, but there are lots of simple ways to start saving. Turning off lights when leaving a room or leaving for the night, for example, is a great one. Make use of natural light as much as possible during the day, too, and forgo incandescent lightbulbs for LED ones. Even keeping a closer eye on things like air conditioning and heating is helpful.
Cutting down on how much energy is spent directly helps the environment by producing less C02. Oh, and it serves as a nice way to save the company money as well.
This one is fairly obvious and straightforward. With the amount of technology available today for pretty much everything, there’s no real reason to make use of paper products any longer. Printing reports, making paper cards, etc. simply doesn’t need to be an option when digital versions are at our fingertips, and making this change saves time, energy and money.
Eliminating paper from the workplace is extremely helpful in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. In fact, a single tree can be turned into 17 reams of paper, which then results in around 110lbs of C02 being released into the atmosphere. Make sure to think about that the next time an employee fires up an office printer.
Cut down on plastic use
Ridding your company of single-use plastic items should be one of the easier ways to move towards a greener future, since many of them can be replaced with alternatives. The workplace kitchen is a great place to start—removing things like plastic cutlery, styrofoam containers, plastic shopping bags and water bottles and, of course, plastic straws will make for a much cleaner and ecologically healthy space.
Introducing recycled materials or items that incorporate recycled materials is a next logical step, and can be done with most products at this point. For example, plastic bottles can be reused to make lots of new products, like shirts, carpeting and sleeping bags.
This is one of the best ways to be very obviously helping the environment (and is therefore great for PR, too!). Planting trees is one of the better methods to reduce detrimental emissions and aids in reforestation efforts as well.
There are numerous ways to make this happen, including creating a workplace task force dedicated to going out and planting trees every so often, or seeking out initiatives such as OneTreePlanted.org.
Facedrive itself, for example, has dedicated part of its ridesharing business to making sure trees are planted by calculating the carbon output generated for each trip made based on the type of the vehicle and distance travelled. The trees are then bedded to offset that amount.
Sustainability is usually deemed as a capital expenditure and as something which needs investment in terms of money and time, which ultimately demotivates businesses and corporations to make sustainable efforts. But sustainability does not have to be something to invest in, it is a mindset or a culture which can be incorporated through your efforts. Your first step towards sustainability, if you haven’t started already, can be to start with the smaller things and by promoting a sustainability culture. We encourage you to do your best and let us know in any way we can help you do so.