Sustainable Business; The Office (2021)

Green Offices

We underestimate the impact we can have in our day to day lives. If you work in an office or own one here are some suggestions on how to lessen it’s impact on the planet and inspire colleagues to make changes that they might take home.

Nothing mentioned in this article has been sponsored. It’s all just my own personal opinion. If you like your sources to remain independent then please;
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Photo by Nastuh Abootalebi on Unsplash

Motivating Staff

Corporate Sustainability

  • Join One percent for the planet. They work with companies that want to donate 1% of their gross sales to environmental charities. They are based in the US but work with companies all over the world.
  • If you’re interested in calculating your carbon footprint in order to reduce it check out carbon footprint for SME’s
  • Invite people in to talk about sustainable living
  • Allow local community groups and non-profits to use your meeting room for meetings/events
  • Facilitate volunteering and fundraising by staff
  • Facilitate clothes / book swap shops
  • Facilitate toiletry / clothes / glasses / old money collections for charities
  • Buy from local suppliers wherever possible.
  • Offer reduced price services to environmental charities and NGO’s
  • Make sure your procurement procedures scores for social or environmental benefits

IT

  • Netuxo are an web development, email and web hosting company providing services to ethical companies. They also run their business along the lines of a cooperative and adhere to egalitarian values and ethics. They also offer web and email hosting on services run by 100% renewable energy in Germany. The company is based in the UK.
  • Like Netuxo above the following company host websites on servers run on renewable energy; Ecohost (Irish), KinstaTimpani,  Raidboxes, and Greenhost
  • Here’s an article with some clever tips on how to optimise your online presence to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • And website carbon will estimate the carbon footprint of your website.
  • Switch to the search engine Ecosia; they plant trees with the money they generate from advertising revenue. Tab for a Cause uses the same model to raise funds for social, health and environmental charities around the world, and OCG supports the cleaning of oceans. Other search engines that donate to charities include Every Click
  • Donate outdated equipment to Camara, Dublin 20 or Recycle IT, Dublin 22

Stationary

  • Encourage the emailing of promotional literature instead of printing.
  • Avoid dates on banners and pop-up signs so they can be reused.
  • Use a custom stamp instead of business cards or printed coverslips, and encourage people to take a photo of your contact details instead of taking business cards.
  • Switch to a low-ink font like Calibri or Century Gothic, which uses 30% less ink than Arial.
  • Switch to 100% recycled paper, unbleached if possible.
  • Set printed to default to black and white and 2 sided.
  • Source your stationary from Klee Paper they offer products like refillable markers, low-toxin glue sticks, recycled paper etc
  • Use an eco print company like The Factory in Co Offaly. They print on recycled or sustainbly sourced paper using plant-based inks and toners on low energy printing and finishing machines/ Their packaging is 100% plastic-free.
  • Consider using waxed cotton for outdoor signs instead of plastic coated ones, like Millbee Studio did.
  • No issue offer bespoke paper stickers. They’re in the UK.
  • Collect stamps for donation to charities like BarnardosISPCC, NCBIIrish Peatland Conservation Council. If you’re based in the UK there is a list of charities that take stamps on the website Used Stamps for Charities

Cleaning

  • Linea Zero is a range of professional cleaning products that are fully biodegradable and based on plant ingredients or source your cleaning products from Klee Paper, or another eco-stationary brand
  • Green Leaf Services offer office cleaning services with low-impact products within the Dublin area.
  • Switch to eco-friendly cleaning products or concentrated capsules of cleaning products instead of full bottles, like those from SploshIron & Velvet, or Ocean Saver’s Pod
  • Consider using package-free versions of products like soap instead of liquid soap or buy refills.
  • Use unbleached recycled toilet roll
  • Encourage one big wash of utensils and crockery at the end of the day so as to avoid wasteful water usage. Or invest in a dishwasher that is put on at the end of the day.

Waste

  • Have segregated bins and do a talk every time they get contaminated with the wrong items.
  • If you sign up for Terracycle points you can earn cash for a charity or community organisation by collecting and posting certain packaging streams.
  • Monitor water usage and waste production and give prizes for reduction. To check for leaks read your water meter at night over an hour. If water usage is recorded it could indicate a leak in the system.
  • Get your water meter calibrated annually.
  • Cardboard Cloud is an Irish company looking to match people with cardboard with others who can use it, or helping businesses reuse the cardboard they have. They appear to be just at pilot stage at the moment but taking enquiries.

Canteen

  • Pledge to make vegetables the default in your canteen.
  • Minimise portion sizes and price accordingly.
  • Avoid sachets of condiments.
  • The Conscious Cup campaign has a guide on how to help your company switch to reusables.
  • Consider giving the catering contract to Food Space they prioritise healthy, locally grown and produced seasonable food.
  • Do away with water dispensers and provide free filtered tap water and reusable cups.

Energy

  • Measure your energy usage and set targets for reductions.
  • Urban volt install LED lights with no money down. They get paid from a percentage of the savings you make from using less energy. They’re based in the US and Ireland. Similar companies in this space include ESB, ECI Lighting and Naturgy
  • Tailor light levels to suit tasks, i.e. corridors don’t need to be as bright as workspaces.
  • Set electrical appliances to sleep after being idle for 10 mins. Encourage people to switch off appliances and screens when not in use.
  • Ensure heating thermostats aren’t set to high. Opt to have staff that feel the cold sit further away from open windows & doors to avoid having heating turned on/up.
  • Ensure that you have your meter read regularly
  • And if you’re doing a particularly good job how about entering the SEAI Energy Awards

Fixtures and Fittings

  • Buy second hand when refurbishing or fitting out your premises. Here are a few locations for second hand office furniture
  • If getting a permanent sign consider having a painted one instead of a 3D one. If you do want a 3D sign then consider making it from infinitely recyclable metal and not single-use plastic.
  • Consider signing up to the sharing platform for business equipment Floow2.com
  • If replacing existing air dryers in toilets then install blade style air dryers, which are more energy efficient.
  • Use aerators on taps to reduce water consumption.
  • Use non-concussive taps to prevent the taps being left on accidently.
  • If you don’t have low-flow toilets fit cistern reducing devices.

Merchandise
I’m not a fan of promotional merchandise because 9 times out of 10 the recipient won’t use them so think carefully before you order.

  • Neutral in Denmark offer custom printing of certified 100% organic fairtrade toxin-free t-shirts which have made with renewable energy and are carbon neutral.
  • Gumdrop make products from recycled chewing gum with a minimum order of 100
  • Kingly socks made bespoke sock from organic cotton in the EU
  • Or how about custom-printed circular organic cotton t-shirts from  Teemill in Wales?
  • Edamame Eco in Ireland sells branded eco products. This company is run by a friend of mine so tell her I sent you!

Consultancy

Transport

  • Facilitate carpooling and offer dedicated spaces to carpooling staff if possible. Staff should be able to dip in and out of carpooling and not have to commit to it permanently.
  • Allow staff the extra time to take more sustainable forms of travel, i.e. train over planes where possible. Climate Perks is one such organisation helping companies to do this.
  • If you’re self employed consider offering your customer the hours you would spend travelling for free if they agree to virtual meetings. Here’s a great example of a self-employed innovation facilitator that cut her flights from 8 to 1 doing just that.
  • Promote cycling, put up bike racks, provide showers.
  • Allow people to work from home.

If I’ve missed anything please let me know in the comments. As always I’ll update the post with any new info I find. Cheers.

Elaine

PS – Other posts in the series include

Published by Elaine Butler

I am a circular design consultant helping manfacturers prepare for the circular economy

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