12 Tips to Make Your Organization more Environmentally Friendly

I just wrapped up project managing a big construction job for a client who was very conscious to “green” their workspace as well as their operations in general. It was a really fun project and I wanted to share a few tips we employed that can help make your organization more environmentally friendly:

1. Make Recycling Robust

Make Your Organization more Environmentally FriendlyPlace recycling bins everywhere. Chances are, people won’t go out of their way to hunt down bins — so make recycling convenient. And remember that recycling goes well beyond paper these days. Include recycling for plastic, glass, cell phones, batteries, ink cartridges & toners and electronic equipment. We also placed composting bins for uneaten food in the kitchen areas (check out this how-to guide to composting in the office).

2. Think Local

States, cities, municipalities and office buildings all have different ideas about what can be recycled and how to recycle it (this is particularly true for composting). To make sure your recycling efforts don’t go to waste (literally), find out about regulations in your area. And don’t forget to communicate your plan to your cleaning company (as well as the personnel who actually do the job in your office).

3. Be an Informed Buyer

When buying paper, make sure its chlorine-free with 80% to 100% recycled content. Many large discount retailers now dedicate sections of their websites to green products. Purchase non-toxic cleaning products and ditch plastic utensils – invest in a dishwasher and substitute reusable kitchenware such as coffee cups and silverware. Green prodcts are often slightly more expensive, so buy in bulk to offset the cost.

4. Green Your Office — Literally

The EPA estimates that indoor air pollution is one of the top five environmental public health risks today. By bringing plants into your office, you can naturally purify the air, reduce  employee stress and create an inviting space.  DIY is not required: there are plenty of plant delivery and maintenance providers for every size and budget.

5. Put it in Writing

Ensure that the environment is a workplace priority by making eco-friendly policies such as paper reduction and recycling official. Communicate your new policies the green way – email or post them on your intranet.

6. Behold Better Bathrooms

Company bathrooms account for up to 75% of water consumption in most workplaces. Upgrades can be as simple as fixing leaks and retrofitting low-flow fixtures in your existing bathrooms. Even simpler? Post signs to remind employees to turn off the faucet.

7. Offer Eco-friendly Compensation

Extend your eco-commitment to your employee benefits packages by offering socially responsible 401K funds, green transportation subsidies and paid time off for volunteering. Current employees and future hires will appreciate your dedication to the environment (and the benefits!).

8. Re-think, Relocate, Renovate

Green options abound when you’re considering a new space or renovating the one you have. Encourage eco-friendly commuting by installing bike racks and showers and choosing a site close to public transportation. Do away with interior dark paint and full or partially retrofit with energy efficient fixtures including motion sensor lights. When shopping for leases, look for LEED-certified buildings and work spaces.

9. Evaluate Your Product or Service Lifecycle

Consider the entire lifecycle of your products or services, from extraction to distribution and consumption to disposal. The goal is to be green from start to finish, not just during  one phase of development. Pioneer good products or services (rather than less bad ones) that are environmentally friendly throughout their entire lifecycle.

10. Improve Your Processes

When assessing your carbon footprint, look beyond your four walls to the complete cycle of your product or service, including third-party vendors, suppliers and customers. If you produce a product that a customer purchases only to use and release a ton of CO2 emissions, is it a green product, even if it was manufactured in a green way? If you really think about it, chances are, the answer is no.

11. Employ an Eco-Insider

Consider hiring or contracting with someone who can help you navigate the environmental maze. The category has a variety of titles: environmental expert, renewable energy engineer, sustainability officer, just to name a few. To learn more, simply type environment into major recruitment sites or hire a recruiting agency that specializes I environmentally-focused positions.

12. Offset What’s Left

No matter how green your company is, you’ll still need some paper. And you’ll need to travel sometimes. Consider making a donation to the earth in the name of that flight you took last week. You can purchase carbon offset credits for those unavoidable business practices that are less than environmentally friendly.

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organization more environmentally friendlyAs head of sustainability for the Natural Resources Defense CouncilAnthony Guerrero’s daily mission it to help companies be more environmentally conscious. His advice:

“Going green doesn’t necessarily mean spending more – it means spending smarter.”

Great advice Anthony!

What else have you found to be effective in your office? Would love to hear your suggestions!

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