With modern living having taken its toll and a climate emergency on the horizon, it is critical that we all take steps towards sustainability. Below, we make 10 suggestions of how you can practice eco-friendliness at work.
1. Non-Toxic Cleaning Products
An easy switch to make is to use non-toxic cleaning products. The resulting air and water pollution of non-biodegradable, toxic ingredients in some conventional cleaning products has had a damaging effect on the earth’s eco-system. Two amazing green cleaning alternatives are Method and Delphis Eco, or if you are feeling particularly creative, you could even try making your own. Lemon, tea-tree and lavender are all known for their anti-septic, anti-microbial & anti-bacterial properties, making them effective natural cleaning materials and with the added benefit of smelling incredible.
2. Provide Reusable Bags
We think that it’s a great idea to have a stash of reusable bags at work. Whilst they have many different purposes, we use ours to carry our parcels to the post office. They are also brilliant if an employee forgets to bring in their own, so then they can always borrow one if they need to go shopping after work. Baggu offers a super light-weight option that folds into a flat pouch and comes in a number of colours, patterns and sizes.
3. Use Digital Tools
We all know that we can reduce our paper consumption by printing less, printing doubled-sided or printing on recycled paper, but the greenest paper is no paper at all. At Lylie’s, digital tools help us to be as paperless as possible. We don’t do filing cabinets; we use Google Drive to store our files. We don’t print files when we’re working on something together; we use OneDrive or Google Drive to share and collaborate. We also don’t commute in unnecessarily, Trello allows us to work on and track the progress of a project remotely.
4. Invest in Indoor Plants
Not only do plants brighten up a workspace but they also perform an important function in helping to keep the environment cleaner. By absorbing pollution and emitting oxygen, plants are critical in improving air quality. Additionally, studies have shown that they can reduce stress and help improve productivity, creating a healthier and happier workforce. Patchplants, which are grown in the Netherlands and shipped to the UK, have an extensive selection suitable for both home and the office. Rubber plants and peace lilies are known for their absorbent qualities making them particularly good at improving indoor air quality.
5. Cycle to Work
Ask your employer to enrol on a ‘cycle to work’ scheme, a government scheme that enables employees to purchase tax-free bikes and bike accessories on a monthly payment plan. You can potentially save between 25%-39% of the total cost. Installing secure bike racks and even investing in a few spare bike locks are other great ways to encourage employees to bike to work.
6. Supply Coffee Cups & Cutlery
To reduce the use of single-use plastic, we advise workspaces to provide coffee cups & cutlery. We also think that it is a great idea to have a stash of reusable coffee cups that employees can take to their favourite local coffee shop should they forget to bring their own. A shocking 2.5 billion coffee cups a year are disposed of within the UK and, since most cups contain a thin plastic lining, few can be recycled. We love brands that, like Lylie’s, turn a waste into a resource, making the rCup and Huski Home travel cup firm favourites. The former makes use of those difficult to recycle disposable coffee cups and the latter of rice husks, the unwanted part of rice crops. Both are BPA free and fully recyclable at the end of their lifetime.
7. Implement a Recycling Programme
To make recycling as easy as possible, it is important that the workspace provides clearly signposted bins. At Lylie’s we try to reuse as much as possible, this includes any packaging that comes through our letterbox. We also like to return ink cartridges to our printer brand for recycling. For hard to recycle materials, we suggest enrolling on a recycling programme such as TerraCycle. This company provides zero-waste boxes for businesses and homes to fill with waste that is not widely recycled, it then collects the boxes and repurposes its contents.
8. Glass Bottled Milk
To reduce the 3 billion plastic bottles of milk bought each year in the UK, we propose organising the delivery of glass bottled milk, something rarely found in the supermarket. Milk & More is a company that delivers, in an electric milk float, glass bottled milk before 7am on nominated delivery days. It is also worth checking out some of their other items as they have an extensive range of plastic-free products perfect for the plastic conscious consumer.
9. Switch to Renewable Energy
With renewable energy more accessible and cheaper than ever, switching to a green supplier is a straightforward process. Take inspiration from giant multinational Unilever who has achieved 100% renewable electricity across five continents, showing us that renewable really is doable. Back in 2015, they even invented an aerobic digester that converts marmite waste into energy, allowing them to power 30% of their UK marmite factory using marmite waste and saving them around £175.8m.
10. Employ Energy Saving Techniques
Alongside using renewable energy, it is our responsibility to reduce our energy consumption as much as possible. A few ways to achieve this are to enable sleep mode and power saver features on electronics, to install smart power strips that save you from remembering to unplug electronics (don’t forget that these continue to use electricity even when not in use), and to fit low energy lightbulbs such as LEDs. Whilst some of these suggestions involve an initial cost, they pay off in the long-term through reduced running costs.
To truly succeed in reducing your work’s carbon footprint, eco-mindedness must be at the heart of company values. 'Lunch and learn' sessions on sustainability, where you bring in a speaker, screen a video or facilitate a discussion, offer a great way to initiate a conversation on green work ethic. Further to this, a green team that establishes and monitors sustainability targets may encourage environmental responsibility within the workplace which, given the necessity of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 to avoid a climate breakdown, is not just favourable but essential.