Our Park Ranger Intern Aiden Heeley-Hill shares his tips for a more sustainable office.
With the beginning of every year come questions about life improvement and New Year’s Resolutions. How many of us have vowed to get fitter, stop smoking or go on that voyage of a lifetime? Perhaps it’s time to consider not just our own health, but the health of our planet. With the average working week in the UK lasting for almost 43 hours, then surely it makes sense for us to be as sustainable as possible when we are in the office. These easy-to-implement top 8 tips will reduce materials use, energy usage and some of them may even make you fitter!
The first thing is something you can do straight out the front door. Instead of driving to work, how about taking the bus? For every 4 litres of fuel burned, 9kg of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, exacerbating the greenhouse effect. Don’t fancy the bus? Then cycling could be the answer. The success of the Grand Départ last year has meant that cycling has never been more popular as a way to get from A to B, and with the Tour de Yorkshire taking place in May this enthusiasm is not going anywhere.
Got notes from a meeting to share? An urgent memo you need to send to a colleague? Instead of wasting paper and ink, why not just send them in an e-mail? The Guardian estimates that the average office worker will print off almost 1,600 sheets of paper in a month. Across UK offices, nearly 81m tonnes of paper is wasted, representing almost a quarter of all waste, so any changes made here really will make a difference.
Sticking with the printing theme, printing or photocopying on both sides of the same piece of paper will reduce waste dramatically. Recycling afterwards will really help to make you a more sustainable officer worker too. Recycling used stationary and printer cartridges is also an excellent way of reducing waste. Did you know that St Nicks can recycle your printer cartridges?
Switching off appliances e.g. computers and photocopiers at the end of the working day or when not in use goes a long way in reducing the overall energy use of an office. It’s estimated that leaving a photocopier on overnight wastes the equivalent energy of copying 5,300 A4 copies. Switching off will also extend the life of the appliances, it’s a win win!
A tip that’s a little unconventional now. Dartmouth College in the US recommends that workers take their own mugs to work as opposed to using plastic or polystyrene cups. The average worker enjoys 4 or 5 cups of coffee or tea a day, so imagine how many disposable cups could be saved if everyone brought their own.
Time for lunch! Why not bring your own lunch from home instead of buying pre-packaged food from the coffee shop? You’ll save money as well as packaging. If you do buy from the canteen, try the vegetarian option. Meat is one of the most water intensive foodstuffs to produce, with an estimated 15,000 litres of water needed for just 1kg of beef. By comparison, the equivalent weight in dry pasta requires almost 2,000 litres and potatoes need nearly 300 litres.
Technology means it is now possible to do at least some work from home. Not only will you be saving emissions by not commuting, you can also wear anything you like!
Following these simple tips will contribute to a more sustainable office environment, as well as potentially making us healthier and more productive people. Even following just one tip will create a great deal of difference.