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4 Ways to Make a More Sustainable Office

Paige McKirahan

Paige McKirahan

April 27, 2021

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Even though Earth Month is coming to an end, that doesn’t mean we should cease our efforts towards sustainability. Concerns over the environment are growing every day, so why not take this opportunity to learn how you can make your office space more sustainable?

Considering that we spend more than one-third of our life at the office (pre-pandemic, of course), it feels only right to implement sustainable practices in the location where most of our days are spent. A green office not only leads to reducing your overall environmental impact, but it can also improve employee productivity, engagement, and overall job satisfaction.

We all know that employees gravitate towards companies that hold similar values, and these values have gone green. According to Fast Company, more than 70% of employees say that they would be more inclined to stay with a company long term if they have a strong sustainability plan. Furthermore, having an affinity for sustainability can make your employees more productive; more than a third of respondents in the study reported that they had given more time and effort to their company if they had an eco-friendly agenda. 

The spotlight on sustainability isn’t going away anytime soon as younger generations with more environmentally friendly values are beginning to dominate the workplace. 40% of millennials – who will make up two-thirds of the workforce by 2025 – have chosen a job based on their dedication to the planet. This compared to the 17% of baby boomers who have done the same illustrates that this number is only going to continue to rise, meaning that the time to create a more sustainable office is now.

So how can we do this? Here are four eco-friendly solutions to help you ditch common workplace waste!

Implement a Recycling Program

Even though recyclables have become the top topic in the sustainable community, the actual act of recycling isn’t always as easy as it seems. Sometimes, you don’t know which products can be recycled, how they can be recycled, or even which bin each item goes to.

To get your team on the right track, why not start a recycling program right in your office?

First, you’re going to want to research your local area to see what your city allows to be recycled. Then, by offering recycling bins with accompanying instructions around the workplace, you can encourage your team to take the greener route and learn more about the recycling process as a whole. There is even a green workplace app that your office can download to help them learn more about their recyclables! By providing these stations, you can give your team the tools to be more eco-friendly both in and out of the office.

If you’re still struggling to get your crew on the sustainability train, why not turn your recycling efforts into a fun competition? Split into groups and see who can amass the most recycled materials for a special prize. Everyone loves some healthy competition (and it can improve employee engagement, too)!

Be Mindful of Energy Use

Whether you’re at home or work, this is always something to consider when it comes to your day-to-day energy-eating activities. Unplugging your electronics and turning off the lights at night is a simple, effective way to reduce your team’s carbon footprint. Electricity is mostly generated by burning fossil fuels, which is a major contributor to global warming; by simply unplugging your electronics when they aren’t in use, you can significantly reduce the greenhouse emissions created by your company. With the commercial sector accounting for a third of the United States electricity consumption, even the smallest actions can make a big impact on the environment.

Send a reminder to your team at the end of the day to unplug and power down, and ensure that lights are turned off in rooms that aren’t being used throughout the day. To take this a step further, you can let technology do the work by opting for motion-sensored lights that turn off on their own when the office is empty. No waking up in the middle of the night wondering “Did I turn the office lights off tonight?”

Think Sustainably About Lunch

When it comes to the office lunch rush, many of your team members likely head to local restaurants for takeout. But why not make lunch a part of your eco-friendly initiative? Consider the sustainability of your office services and employee perks. By offering your team lunch, you can help implement sustainable food practices into the workplace. See if your building accepts food scraps for compost (or create a program yourself) and look into services in your local area that pick up food waste to donate to community organizations. 

Here at Cater2.me, we can do it all. Our family-style catered meals can help reduce waste and we offer compostable container programs for companies specifically seeking individually packaged meals. We also have national partnerships with food rescue organizations, which help to prevent food waste, reduce CO2 emissions and save water while providing meals to those in our community who are in need. We’ve also partnered with a variety of vendors who source their ingredients locally, helping to reduce the environmental impact of long-haul transportation while helping the local community! 

Encourage a Greener Commute

Is your office located in a metropolitan area? Does it have good walking paths or offer bike lanes? If so, encouraging your employees to explore alternate modes of transportation could have a large impact on the environment AND your team’s health! Employees with unfavorable commutes can have decreased productivity and engagement at the office, in addition to increased amounts of stress.

According to a 2020 FlexJobs report, it is estimated that you add almost 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for every gallon of gas your car uses. And since 68% of employees are worried about the effect their commute will have on the environment, opting for a bike, the bus, or a subway can help in more ways than one. Even carpooling with your colleagues can improve team relationships and take some of the pressure off employees who struggle with their commute. Make an adventure out of it and pick up coffee (or tea) on the way. Teams that caffeinate together, stay together!

What’s Next?

Now that you have the tools and tips for how to turn your workspace into a more environmentally friendly office, it’s time to start implementing these efforts for your team! And if you are still working remotely, don’t fret; there are ways to make a sustainable home office that is suits your (and the Earth’s) needs.

Want to learn more about how our catering options can fit into your sustainable office efforts? Let us know! We offer corporate catering services that are available across the country with dedicated account managers waiting to create a meal program perfect for your team AND the planet.

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“Cater2.me has been able to get our employees from all different departments together, to get away from our desks, recharge, and be able to return to our work, happy and full.”

—Ellen K., Employee Experience Specialist, Frame.io