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Achievable Environmentally Friendly Office Initiatives for 2020

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With a new decade upon us if your business hasn't developed a sustainability policy, now is the time.

If you want to attract, retain and engage top talent it is important that you implement a green agenda and positively impact the community and environment around you.

In fact, in a recent survey, we found 52% of employees stated a company's sustainability program was an important factor in choosing a role. While in our own office 64% of our employees stated in 2019 that they wanted our business to become greener.

Over the past few months, we've committed to reducing our environmental impact and implemented a number of green initiatives. As a company, it can be daunting, and you will learn along the way, but there are also some quick wins you can implement easily.

If you're thinking of making your office more environmentally friendly here are a few achievable practices you can act on this year.

Start a Green Team

One of the best ways to start becoming a greener company is to create an in-house green team. A green team can help improve employee engagement, help your business tackle sustainability issues and come up with creative solutions. All the while gaining more buy-in from employees and creating a stronger culture of sustainability.

Green team members should be responsible for any new environmentally friendly initiatives and policies. This gives employees a sense of ownership and you're more likely to get buy-in with regards to increasing recycling rates and reducing energy use.

In Cpl, the start of our sustainability journey begun by setting up the Cpl Green Works green team. Together they assessed the company and came up with initiatives that we could implement to become a more sustainable business. It does take time and dedication but is worth the effort.

Cut Out Single-Use plastics

A new year is a great time to set new goals and one of those should be to make your company plastic-free. Have your green team look at the non-reusable plastic you are currently using such as plastic cups, coffee stirrers, coffee cups, vending machine items, single-use cutlery and then cut them out.

Replace with alternatives such as metal cutlery and glasses. It might seem rash, but you'll be surprised by how quickly employees adapt. The next step is to encourage staff to replace cling film and tin foil with lunch boxes and single-use drinks with reusable water bottles and coffee cups. Not only is this the right thing to do but it will save the business money in the long run.

In Cpl, Green Works did an audit of all the plastic we could cut out and replaced with the above items. To educate our staff we also had a cut it out week, during which every day we had a different activity to encourage staff to cut out single-use plastic. In 2019 alone we saved 40,000 cups from landfill in our main Dublin office.

Get Rid of Individual Bins

A very simple one - if employees have their own desk bins phase these out. Individual bins can discourage recycling and generally aren't needed. When staff must physically walk over to well-labelled bins, they are more likely to recycle waste properly. When removing these kinds of bins give your staff notice and explain the rationale. As with all changes, clear communication is key.

Go Paperless

This year why not make it your mission to go paperless. Going paperless can be daunting but more and more companies are embracing the challenge. Up to 50% of business waste is paper, so by going paperless a business can significantly reduce their impact on landfill while reducing costs.

Converting to a paperless office can also support other earth-friendly efforts, such as water conservation, as each sheet of paper takes an average of five litres of water to produce. In a recent Cpl survey, 30% of companies stated they have successfully gone paperless.

For us, in Cpl, it is our main sustainability goal this year is to go paperless. We plan to do this by first introducing printing quotas, introducing new technologies in our meeting rooms and then reducing to completely paperless in the coming months.

Overall the key to making your office environmentally friendly is education. Use workshops or videos to educate your employees and co-workers on simple things like recycling. If certain items are repeatedly placed in the wrong bin, ask your green team to remind or re-inform colleagues to reduce contamination.

Making your office eco-friendly is a long term project, but there are little things we can all do today that collectively make a difference. Through time these changes will then ultimately benefit your organisation's bottom line.

Download our Responsible Business Report for more details on our sustainability initiatives.