A lot of people would love to make their workspace eco-friendly, right?
The Collecteco Team and I have come up with:
Personally, I LOVE stationery! Unfortunately, some stationery is made from plastics and other materials that are harmful to the environment and cannot be recycled. Some inks can be toxic.
By using non-toxic inks, refillable cartridge pens, recycled pencils and paper, you can help produce less harmful waste and continue to create amazing work in the office!
If you have any surplus stationery you would like to donate, why not start by contacting local schools or charities. If you’re struggling to donate your stationery or other office equipment and furniture, please contact us for help.
If you’re not sure about using recycled paper and stationery, why not try going paperless? Understandably it can be a challenge going fully paperless, trust me I know, but even simply minimising your paper use can make a big impact.
A shared drive or using online whiteboards during virtual team meetings, for example, can be very effective to share content with multiple people.
Paperless forms, payslips and note taking systems can give people more access to your company services, share information with people efficiently and create little to no waste. Less chance of losing them too!
Reusable cups and glasses can be a subtle way to be eco-friendly and add some personality to your beverage with multiple design choices available! Bringing your own reusable cups to work can minimise plastic/paper cup wastage. I recommend cups with a hard lid on top as it creates less chance for spillage! I definitely don’t want to waste any coffee!
We find that homeless hostels are always in need of donations of cups, so if your kitchen cupboards get over-run, we recommend you first contact local homeless hostels to rehome them. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you get stuck donating your surplus items!
Lovely plants! They provide oxygen to our confined work environments and add beauty to the room. A plant can help improve employee well-being too, as the art of taking care of plants can be both satisfying and reduce stress. I recommend plants that don’t flower as you should be mindful of people who are allergic or suffering with hay fever. From our experience we have found that schools and charities love to receive plant donations! So if your plants multiply why not donate them to local good causes?
We’ve seen plenty of situations where someone on one side of the office is ordering, say, a new stapler, whilst someone on the opposite side of the office is inundated with stapler central. Some of our clients simply have a shelf in a cupboard where staff are asked to place surplus stationery and check before buying new. For larger items like furniture and IT this could be a weekly spreadsheet/email which lists what’s in storage or a designated reuse champion who is the first port of call before buying new.
Swapping, sharing, resource exchange – whatever you call it – is great for the environment, may facilitate some great conversations in the office and saves cash.
Reuse & Upcycle
Try to reuse items that could be used again where possible. Or if you no longer have use for a specific item, donate it to a good cause who would appreciate a donation. This can benefit you by removing the item from your workspace and help good causes gain kit and resources that will benefit their organisation.
If the item is a little tatty, why not attempt to repurpose old furniture by giving it a new paint job and creating a funky new piece of furniture. Here is a blog post we found, by Love Property, that was truly inspiring to repurpose old furniture:65 upcycling ideas to transform your old stuff. Or another way to find inspiration is to look at Pinterest where there are many creative upcycling ideas to discover. This can improve an item’s life cycle, helping it last longer and even save you some money so you don’t have to buy new. If you don’t have space for the new upcycled item, then perhaps donate it to a local charity shop.
Maybe you already use some energy saving lighting in your home, but what about your workplace? With a large majority of people spending their day at work, energy saving light bulbs, equipment and even timers for electrical appliances could help your company save energy. Perhaps suggest to your manager about installing energy saving or motion censored lighting, which could be connected to timers, limiting energy use
Consider looking into Green Energy providers like Good Energy, who provide electricity from renewable sources.
Discuss with your colleagues what items aren’t necessary or could be swapped for better environmental alternatives. Many eco-friendly items come in less harmful packaging which can be purchased on monthly subscriptions, so there’s no need to bulk buy. Why not consider purchasing cleaning products from an eco-friendly company and doing some research into looking at ethical brands?
Surprisingly there can also be some health benefits to using eco-friendly alternatives. Eco-friendly cleaning products use little to no harmful chemicals – these chemicals have been linked to breathing problems, skin irritation and other health issues.
Buying local helps support small businesses that employ around 60% of people in the UK. It also helps keep your local high street alive which in turn helps to create a healthy and bustling local community. There are also a number of environmental benefits from buying local in terms of reducing transport and wastage from packaging and spoiling. It can also be argued that building a relationship with local businesses will get you better, more responsive service and can save money.
A step further in buying local is local currencies. Perhaps one of the best known of these is the Bristol Pound. Local currencies aim to keep money in the local community to be spent in local businesses. They can be used for a range of things from buying your daily coffee or weekly shop to more advanced transactions like paying business rates.
Start a Green Team
Who else in your office might be interested in making it more eco-friendly? Perhaps there are colleagues already doing things? How could you unite your efforts?
Some offices have environmental committees, green champions, eco teams – whatever they are called, there is strength in numbers and the more of you working together to support the environment, the better. It is also likely that as your group gathers momentum, you are more likely to get management buy-in which should further increase momentum.
This report from WRAP includes some great info on building a green team – https://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/WRAP_Green_Office_Guide.pdf
Collecteco partners with companies across the UK to donate furniture, equipment and materials to charities, schools, NHS Trusts and other not for profit organisations. Contact us if your company needs help to donate furniture and equipment to good causes in your area!
Good luck with the steps above!