Workplaces across the world are beginning to do their part to achieve environmental sustainability. Not only is sustainability great for the environment, but in most cases, it is simple to do. It merely requires changing a few habits.
But that’s not to say that if your business is ready to “go solar” or update the building’s utilities to be greener, you shouldn’t do it. Go for it! However, some of the finest ways to reduce a workplace carbon footprint are easy, totally free, or more cost-efficient overall.
What is our carbon footprint?
Carbon dioxide is a “greenhouse gas,” so-called because experts link these greenhouse gas emissions to creating a greenhouse effect in our atmosphere. This greenhouse traps heat on the earth; hence, the worldwide concern regarding climate change and global warming.
While there are other greenhouse gases contributing to climate change, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most common gas that human beings release into the atmosphere just by going about their daily routine. The most well-known CO2 emissions occur from burning fossil fuels like gasoline, using electricity, or producing waste.
Thus, one’s carbon footprint is their full CO2 contribution (the sum total amount of carbon dioxide) to the problem of climate change. When reducing one’s carbon footprint, CO2 emissions decrease which in turn lowers the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
1. Encourage employee carpools, bicycling to work, or work from home
Vehicle emissions account for a major part of society’s carbon footprint. Many workplaces are actively organizing carpooling or encouraging their workers to look at alternative forms of transportation. Typically, people appreciate saving gas money in this way, as well as doing their part to combat climate change.
Other employers institute fitness incentives, setting out bike racks for those that want to stay in shape and bike to work.
Lastly, a growing trend is to offer employees work-from-home options. They may be required to come to work certain days out of the week or month, but other days, they are allowed to stay home and complete their work remotely.
2. Switch out light bulbs with LED bulbs
Many workplaces have gotten rid of their incandescent, halogen, and CFL bulbs in favor of LED bulbs. While LED bulbs may cost more upfront, they do not have to be changed nearly as often. Additionally, they give off no heat. Large buildings with incandescent bulbs put extra strain on their HVAC system during the summer months, all because of the heat coming from these bulbs.
Overall, LED bulbs use 75-80% less energy than other bulbs, and they last significantly longer. In addition to lowering your workplace carbon footprint, you are lowering your energy bills and operating costs.
3. Recycle waste, electronics, and furniture
A lot of businesses claim to recycle, but few truly take recycling seriously. Sometimes, it is as easy as properly labeling the recycling bins so that employees know where to recycle in the right places.
But it doesn’t have to stop there. Employers that are serious about recycling will also recycle worn furniture, batteries, computers, and more. Some vendors/manufacturers may even buy back these recyclable objects around the office.
In the U.S. alone, over four million disposable pens are thrown away every day. And that’s just pens. Your businesses can make changes by stocking the office with reusable pens – ones that simply have their inks refilled. The process of refilling makes it easier to keep track of pens, rather than losing them and simply replacing them. Plus, they actually work out cheaper long-term.
It also pays to check with your local office supplies store to see what they offer in terms of e-waste recycling programs.
4. Invest in recycled products
Plenty of business-to-business products are recycled products. It is a business all its own. Many feel that recycled shopping requires you to pay extra or settle for low quality, but these are all myths.
Specifically, most things made from paper or plastic can be repurposed and sold in the market. If purchasing office supplies, choose vendors that use recycled or recyclable materials, you will be surprised by what you can find on a reasonable budget.
5. Reduce paper use through more digital file management
With the advent of scanning, digital storage, and information security, it has never been easier to eliminate paper in the office. Cloud storage software programs, like Dropbox, are able to encrypt business files, and the workplace can more easily manage digital paperwork via digital folders, versus combing through file cabinets.
There are even virtual notaries and legally-binding digital signature programs. This allows clients to take care of contracts and review their information faster through their computer rather than forcing people to always do business in person using printed paper. And of course, going paperless when it comes to issuing payslips is great for building a sustainable workplace. Offering employees access to their pay slips electronically using Employee Self Service applications where employees can access their payslips and other personal information directly from their smartphone eliminates then need for issuing paper payslips.
6. Buy local
Just as important as it is to recycle (or buy recycled products), it is also great to buy local. Local products and services lower carbon emissions by decreasing the volume of logistics and exports. When products and services must travel from one part of the world to the other, it contributes to more fossil fuel burning and general inefficiency.
As a side benefit, buying local has a direct positive effect on the local economy. Businesses that invest in their local economy tend to be more profitable, as their own community develops wealth and more affluent residents.
7. Provide employee training on workplace sustainability
More and more employers are mandating workplace sustainability training. Informing employees about their own carbon footprint can make them more mindful of waste and carbon emissions. Businesses that intentionally train their employees and then incentivize them to make a difference are the workplaces that truly practice environmental sustainability and can reach the goal of a sustainable office.
Other ideas for employers are to tie in a Company Wellness Program to the overall sustainable workplace project: Company wellness programs are a great way to combine sustainability and social responsibility together with each employee’s well-being. With an emphasis on natural foods and products, commuting or exercising while reducing the carbon footprint, and education, the benefit will go beyond the employee and the company.
As a final thought, major renovations or upgrades, such as better insulation, new windows, or solar panels are extremely effective at achieving a sustainable workplace. However, those projects are quite costly and may not be feasible for every business.
Some of the best practices for lowering a workplace’s carbon footprint come down to healthy habits that cost little to no money.
Ask yourself how can you start the journey to becoming a sustainable workplace?
To learn more about how Payslip can help you on this journey through the introduction of paperless payroll contact us today!