Many offices are increasing their sustainability practices. Sustainability has many benefits, including profitability. Establishing environmentally friendly office practices can help improve many aspects of your company. As you strive to create office sustainability initiatives, this guide has tips and tricks to ease the process.
Start a Sustainability Team
Having a team dedicated to sustainable initiatives in the office is one of the best ways to ensure the implementation of sustainability measures. Your workplace sustainability team raises awareness about the importance of what you’re doing while also allowing employees to take on minor leadership roles in the company.
Potential projects for the sustainability team include:
- Implementing a recycling program.
- Assisting with purchasing decisions, including ordering clean, sustainable cleaning supplies.
- Targeting energy-efficient practices and promoting them to the rest of the office.
- Hosting lunch-and-learn sessions to benefit the company with ongoing sustainability education.
- Analyzing how efficient the office is, including looking at gas meter readings and office supplies purchases.
Unplug at the End of the Day
Your office can be more energy efficient if your staff turns everything off at the end of the day. You can make it easier to unplug with the following practices:
- Give reminders: Remind your employees to shut electronics down and turn off the lights before leaving each day.
- Ask for a volunteer energy leader: Ask one of your employees to check all computers and turn off all the lights before locking up for the day.
- Automate your office: With automated equipment and electronics, your employees can go home without having to remember to turn something off. The lights and computers will start up and shut off on a timed system, only turning back on if they are manually triggered.
- Implement an accountability system: Mistakes occasionally happen. Keep a donation jar in the office where an employee who forgets to turn something off can put in a small amount of change.
How to Stock Eco-Friendly Snacks
Choosing healthy office snacks with eco-friendly packaging can make a big difference for your company’s budget and sustainability. Below are ways you can accomplish this:
1. Switch to Eco-Friendly Brands
Track what types of food and drink brands your office consumes in high amounts and look into how eco-friendly these companies are. If you discover any types of food or beverage brands that could be more eco-friendly, look for alternatives to provide for your employees.
2. Try Using a Subscription Service
Services that provide commonly consumed items like coffee and tea are helpful for commercial purposes. Subscriptions simplify the shopping process, meaning you can spend less time finding products. You can also avoid running out of snacks if someone forgets to make the order.
3. Shop Local
Local brands can reduce your carbon footprint. This is a way for your company to give back to your local community and take care of your employees.
4. Make Eco-Friendly Packaging Choices
It can be challenging to find food products that are both affordable and use eco-friendly packaging. Single-use packaging is cost-effective, and employees enjoy its convenience. Disposable, single-use products also increase the amount of waste your company produces.
Plastic containers are another example of packaging that is cheap to produce but adds more waste to the environment. Plastic is derived from a slowly dwindling global supply of petroleum and does not break down into environmentally friendly components. Replace your plastic products with green alternatives such as compostable paper or recycled packaging.
5. Offer More Vegetarian & Vegan Options
When introducing new food products, try offering more fruits and vegetables. Reducing animal products can make a large impact on the environment. The livestock and meat manufacturing industries require more water and energy to produce their products compared to the gardening industry. Only 1 out of 10 adults consume enough vegetables to meet daily requirements. Lower your carbon footprint and help your employees snack healthier with veggie products.
6. Build a Unique Food Culture
There is a golden opportunity to establish a sense of community in the office when you’re making strides toward a food culture with green values. When you offer free products or resources to your employees, make sure you know what your employees prefer to consume. If you want to investigate, you can conduct a survey or keep track of items in the kitchen or breakroom.
Listen to what your employees need by finding out what items are less popular in the office, even if you have provided them in the past. You can reduce your expenses by cutting back on products employees consume less frequently.
The digitalization of traditional paper practices is more than a trend. As digitized services and workflows become commonplace, you can increase sustainability in the office by implementing more green practices. Go paperless with:
1. Electronic Documentation
Having to make corrections or revisions to print copy and other documents contributes to a large amount of corporate paper waste. Containing these documents requires filing cabinets, spare rooms or remote storage facilities. As your company grows, you will need more space to manage paper files.
With a digital filing system, your employees can quickly access documents on a computer or mobile device instead of digging around in a filing cabinet. Your employees can work more efficiently without spending time trying to find files that have gone missing.
2. Reliable Software & Technology
Choosing software you can count on is important whether you need to keep your digital documents organized for quick review or securely store sensitive information. Getting the right software for your industry and keeping your computer system updated is integral to going digital. With a slow system and outdated software, daily routines will be slow and inefficient.
3. A Printing Policy
One way to successfully cut back on the amount of paper you buy and use is to communicate the changes directly to your employees. Limit the number of papers employees can print each day. Or create a new business policy concerning your business community’s printing habits.
4. Automating Your Payments
Manage your accounts payables with a digital approach by inviting vendors to send your company online statements or invoices. If you make more purchases online using reliable service websites, you will reduce your carbon footprint and improve your overall efficiency.
Save your company’s checks and use a company card system instead. Set up automated payment systems for important bills and supplies, which can help limit the amount of paperwork you have to do.
Start Composting & Ditch Disposables
Composting your office’s food waste is a simple process that takes minimal time and effort. It helps spread awareness about the importance of caring for your ecosystem and gets your employees interested in composting at home.
You can begin your commercial composting system by investing in alternative materials to replace what you currently use. Get rid of plastic wherever possible and use compostable items instead. You can start composting with these tips:
1. Set Up Company Compost Bins
You can place your lidded compost buckets in a freezer or another temperature-controlled place where only employees have access. You can also place the bins in a visible location where your employees eat, such as a cafeteria or breakroom. Remember to include a sign explaining what wastes can go into the compost bin. When your buckets are full, carry them outside the office to empty them at your collection site.
If you plan to get your employees involved in starting a community compost pile outdoors, you must know all necessary laws and regulations. Place the compost pile in a logical location where the public has restricted access. You can also donate your compost to your local community gardens.
2. Establish a Waste Management Plan
The first step of creating a plan is to evaluate the foods and packaging your office gives out. Determine which materials are eco-friendly enough for the composting process, and implement your new compost system as a waste management method.
To get your employees involved in the plan:
- Provide clear information: Make sure everyone knows where the compost bins are and what food scraps they can toss in them.
- Encourage volunteer involvement: Food management volunteers for your company can collect the compost bins when they are full and transport them to a composting facility or another designated drop-off location.
- Give away excess food: Rather than composting all of your extra food, you can also save food that is still good by donating to a food pantry or sending it home with employees.
- Collect packaging wastes: Single-use packaging is popular as a disposable material, but even if your office goes through a lot of these items, you can set up a recycling system for plastic wrappers along with your compost bins.
3. Research Your Options
Before you start composting or recycling, make sure you know which local facilities you can go to for processing. Your company might get a tax credit for recycling certain materials at the appropriate facility. Prior to making any major changes to the way you handle waste:
- Call local waste and recycling facilities: Strict rules may apply to compost when using a large facility. Most recycling plants collect specific items instead of any plastic wrapper or bottle.
- Store items for proper recycling: Improperly sorted items can cause problems in processing. It’s vital for employees to know exactly which bin to use when disposing of certain materials.
Encourage Recycling & Reusability
With accessible recycling practices, you can limit how much your employees throw away. Your office can easily limit its waste production with reusable containers or recyclable packaging. Below are a few tips for effective practices to reduce material wastes:
1. Recycle Your Used Supplies
Your employees will be more likely to recycle when it is accessible. Make clearly labeled recycling bins available in spaces where employees eat lunch, and encourage your staff to use them. Hang a sign detailing the types of used materials you can recycle in certain bins.
Recycling plastic wastes like empty water bottles and pastry containers is particularly important. Plastic contaminates the environment through landfills because it remains intact rather than decomposes.
2. Reuse Office Supplies
How many times has someone accidentally printed out a lengthy document? Instead of throwing away the paper, place the used materials into a bin for scratch paper. Paper items you can recycle include folders, notebooks and copy paper.
3. Stock Reusable Dining Supplies
Limiting your packaging purchases can reduce the total amount of waste your community produces. The best way to do this is to look for reusable supplies that your employees can share or ask them to bring more of their personal items to work. For example, if you install a water purifier to filter tap water, employees can bring their own water bottles instead of crowding around a water station where you have to restock the cups and refill the plastic water bubble.
Implementing more reusable supplies can also help save money and reduce the company’s need to restock supplies when they run out. Stocking reusable cutlery and containers reduces your need for single-use materials and is more convenient for your employees.
Make Sustainable Meal Choices
Providing sustainable food in the workplace can help your company thrive. It’s important to choose establishments that care about sourcing, environmentally friendly packaging options and using fresh ingredients.
You can make sustainable meal choices when you host an office party or luncheon. Hosting an office party with catered food has many benefits, including:
- Saving money: Purchasing reusable drinkware, plates and cleaning supplies can be a valuable investment over time.
- Boosting morale: Giving employees sustainable and fun options can help increase their interest in other areas of growth.
- Promoting leadership and corporate responsibility: Getting a team of employees together to act as leaders for the company’s sustainability can help them advance.
- Improving company image: You want to show your company cares about employees meeting sustainability goals and is willing to make positive changes. Many consumers prefer sustainable products because they care about environmental causes.
If you need more sustainable food options in your office, here are some practices you can implement:
- Packaging alternatives: Maybe your office uses a lot of coffee, creamer, paper towels, dish soap, paper and disposable dining utensils? You can always change your purchasing decisions, buy sustainable alternative products or switch to a supplier with reputable green practices.
- Healthy food products: For consumable products, look for Organic or Fair Trade Certified. Buy in bulk to save money. Instead of sugar packets, order a large container to empty your bags of sugar.
Find Sustainable Food Solutions With American Food & Vending
Making sustainable choices is a rewarding way to treat your employees while also managing your company’s carbon footprint. American Food & Vending offers personalized commercial dining services with clean, sustainable meal options. We provide dining facility design, marketing, communication and more for new customers interested in building a healthier office life. Contact us to learn more about ordering chef-prepared food for your company.