There are a number of ideas that offices can use to go green and help the environment.
Implementing positive go green ideas doesn’t necessarily mean spending lots of money.
In fact, using effective go green ideas can save money and increase efficiency.
Below are 25 low cost go green ideas for the office.
1. Eliminate Single Use Cups
Lots of offices have break rooms or cafeterias that offer water and coffee. While that is a positive perk for employees, it is harmful to the environment if single use plastic or styrofoam cups are used. Plastic and styrofoam cups are not biodegradable and can harm the environment.Remove all single use cups from the office. Employees will start bringing their own reusable bottles and mugs rather than go thirsty
If quitting single use cups altogether is too jarring then consider using environmentally friendly cups instead. For instance, your office can use compostable plant based cups that break down more quickly than regular plastic cups.
Plastic cups are not biodegradable which means they take years to break down. Environmentally friendly cups break down more quickly and do not contribute as much to pollution.
While it is best to avoid single use plastics at all costs, we recognize that some companies do not have that option so using environmentally friendly plastic products is the next best thing.
2. Use Recycled Printing Paper
Recycled printer paper looks exactly like regular printer paper but doesn’t require cutting down trees or drawing on fresh resources. Instead, it is made from paper products that have already been used.
3. Print Double Sided
Make sure that all of your computers and printers automatically default to print double sided in order to save paper. Learn how to do that in less than 3 minutes here.
4. Go One Step Further and Use Paperless Notebooks
Take it one step further and use paperless notebooks to take notes. Notebooks are often discarded or have many pages that are unused.
Furthermore, it can be hard to sort through your notes and find exactly what you need.
A solution could be the Rocketbook which is a wired notebook that is erasable and reusable. It can even store your notes in Google Drive, One Note and Drop Box.
5. Or at Least Use Eco Friendly Notebooks
If you or your colleagues can’t imagine going without paper in your notebook then you can try reaching for a notebook that uses recycled paper to minimize your impact on the environment. Enjoy traditional note taking while saving the planet!
6. Try Pens Made from Recycled Products
A good pen is essential for any office. However, throwing away plastic pens that aren't biodegradable can cause waste to build up.
A more environmentally friendly option you can use to go green is to choose pens made from recycled materials that are biodegradable.
7. Decrease the Brightness on Your Computer Monitor
According to a Harvard University professor, reducing your computer monitor’s brightness from 100% to 70% can save up to 20% of energy that the monitor uses. Most people won’t notice a huge change from making this adjustment so it is a quick and easy way to go green.
8. Turn Off Your Computer Monitor at Night
When you leave the office for the day, turn off your computer monitor to save energy. Simply hit the power button on your monitor or create a short cut as described here.
9. Implement Waste Walks
Decrease carbon emissions and reduce costs by implementing WASTE Walks. A WASTE Walk is when employees take a step back, walk the floor and identify wasteful activities.
It is a fun way to get everyone involved to come up with ideas to decrease your office’s impact on the environment.
Furthermore, WASTE Walks don’t require any additional funds, resources or third parties. They take advantage of everyone’s brain power to identify low hanging fruit and make improvements. More importantly, employees will be invested in the ideas and initiatives generated from WASTE Walks because they came up with them. This means the ideas are more likely to stick!
Learn how to implement WASTE Walks from this highly rated course!
10. Get Rid of Individual Trash Cans
Some offices have trash cans at every individual’s desk. A lot of organizations, such as Etsy, saw an increase in recycling rates and a decrease in waste after removing individual trash cans and utilizing central trash cans instead.
This article noted that at first Etsy’s employees were annoyed that the company removed their individual trash cans. They felt it was an inconvenience to get up from their desk every time they wanted to throw something away.
However, after a while they got used to it and noticed the benefits. Etsy’s recycling rate increased by 20% and the volume of waste decreased by 18%. Additionally, employees noticed an increase in spontaneous interactions as the central waste stations started to serve a similar social function to water coolers.
11. Offer this FREE Zero Waste Course
Zero Waste is all the rage right now. It has become a popular challenge for people to try and have a “zero waste lifestyle” where their impact on the environment is minimal.
Take this free online course and share it with your colleagues!
12. Encourage Eco Friendly Commuting Practices
Millions of people commute to and from work each day. This means thousands of cars on the road causing large amounts of pollution.
Commuting is a necessary part of life. However, there are some options that individuals can try that could decrease their environmental impact and help keep the environment clean.
For instance, it might make sense to carpool with family, friends or co-workers. That way, there is only one car on the road instead of three or four. A lot of couples or family members use this method if their jobs are relatively close together. Instead of taking two cars, they opt to take one car and drop the person off on their way to their own job and pick them up at the end of the day. Many ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have carpool options as well.
Another potential option is to use public transportation. This is an easy option for people that live in large cities with robust train systems. A lot of cities also have bus lines or lightrails that aid in commuting in an environmentally friendly manner.
Some people have found success biking or even skateboarding to work as they combine their commuting time with their exercise time.
The most important thing is for each employee to figure out what works best for them, their schedule and their family.
13. Buy Eco-friendly and Responsibly Sourced Coffee
Coffee is the world’s second most tradable commodity after oil, coffee is now a multibillion dollar global industry and growing. But the environmental impact of coffee is significant.
14. Try Using Reusable K-Cups for Coffee Grounds
These universal cups are a small way to help your office go green and reduce its carbon footprint.
15. Optimize the Use of Natural Light
If your office has windows then be sure to optimize the natural light that they provide. Avoid turning on light bulbs during the day by keeping curtains, shades and blinds open.
If you are looking for a more automated approach then you can try turning your office’s existing blinds into “Smart Blinds” that can be controlled from your smart phone, Alexa or Google. This DIY kit converts your existing horizontal blinds into automated blinds. Save time, energy and money by leveraging the blinds you already have!
16. Invest in Energy Efficient Lighting
Switching to energy efficient lights is a well-know strategy that saves electricity and money. These days energy efficient lights come in all shapes and sizes. There is something for every need and every budget!
17. Invest in Smart Plugs
Offices can automatically save energy by using smart plugs. Smart plugs can be easily programmed to turn off devices such as lights, fans and appliances automatically in order to save energy and money. Most smart plugs allow you to control your devices from anywhere using an app on your phone.
18. Use Energy Efficient Thermostats
Energy efficient thermostats work to conserve energy all the time without human involvement.
For example, the Nest Thermostat is a device that a lot of people have had success with. Notably, Nest Thermostats program themselves to save energy according to a household's specific needs. They learn the temperatures you like and create a schedule that saves electricity and money. According to Nest, independent studies have proven that the Nest Learning Thermostat saved an average of 10% to 12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.
19. Use Water Conservation Devices in the Restroom
There are big opportunities to save water in the restroom. For instance, a lot of people have had success installing simple “Tank Banks”.
It is easy! All you do is hang the insert in the toilet tank and it automatically saves about 1 gallon of water per flush! It is simple and is maintenance free.
If the restrooms in your office have traditional faucets then installing a sensor that automatically turns off the flow of water could help as well. This one is easy to install and doesn’t require a plumber. It will fit onto virtually any faucet.
20. Use Charcoal Deodorizer Bags
Looking for a way to freshen up a room without using harmful cleaning products or sprays?
Use these all natural air fresheners to eliminate odors. These bags can last for up to two years and are 100% biodegradable. Perfect for people that want a simple air freshener that won’t stick out.
21. Use Eco-friendly Cleaning Products
Ditch the harsh chemicals and try some natural all purpose cleaner.
22. Include Recycling Instructions Near Trash Cans and Recycling Bins
According to Stanford University, people are more likely to recycle if there are clear instructions on how to do it along with an urgent message that describes the negative consequences of not recycling.
An example of helpful instructions and messages that you can print out for your employees or co-workers are below. It might be useful to place these above the trash can and recycling bins to spur people to recycle.
You can implement this go green idea today!
23. Encourage Water Saving with Tips and nstructions in Bathrooms
Similar to the above, it might help to print out water saving tips and instructions like the below and hang them up in the rest rooms. They are especially helpful if they are above the sink where people can look at them directly when washing their hands. Try to swap the signs out and use creative designs to keep the message fresh.
24. Put Hand Dryers in the Bathroom
Using hand dryers instead of traditional paper towels in the restroom will automatically reduce the amount of waste produced. A lot of hand dryers, such as the one shown below, are easy to plug into traditional outlets.
25. Use Biodegradable Trash Bags
Try using biodegradable trash bags that break down in the earth instead of traditional plastic trash bags. This is a simple change that can help the environment, the best part is that your employees and colleagues won’t notice the difference!
Our writers come from all over the world, but one thing unites them - their passion for sustainability.