734 Views | Sep 04 2019, 01:11am
5 Small Steps to a More Sustainable Office
Whether we believe that climate change is a real phenomenon or not, we know as a fact that we only have one planet earth. Having said that, why aren’t we all being more proactive about it and incorporating that thought into our daily habits? Deliberately taking steps to take care of our planet, just like we take care of ourselves? Building habits takes time, but it becomes a more organic and an exciting process when we make a concious effort to hold it high on our priority list. When we are clear about what matters the most to us, we make time for it and we make it part of our daily routine.
In 2018, about 7.13 million Canadians worked 40 hours a week. Even without drawing statistics, we know that most of our hours are spent in the office.
Here are 5 Small Steps to a More Sustainable Office
There are so many things we can do that the list could be infinite, but in the spirit of keeping it simple, here are 5 small steps we can take towards a more sustainable workplace:
1) Reuse. Let’s try to avoid single-use plastics such as cutlery, straws, bags and takeout containers, at all costs! We hope by now that you've heard the great news: Ontario’s government is banning all single-use plastics starting in 2021. Cheers Ontario!
2) Paperless meetings. This is 2019! Why are we still printing materials to hand out during a meeting? Let’s share the documents electronically and take notes on our portable electronic devices. Unless it's absolutely necessary to print documents that need to be delivered formally, use a smaller font and recycled paper for printing and taking notes.
3) Blinds up. If you are fortunate enough to have an office with windows, open the blinds and let the natural light illuminate the rooms. It not only will reduce energy consumption but as an additional positive effect, sunshine increases the absorption of Vitamin D, which is a natural mood booster and facilitates the immune system function.
4) Turn Off & Unplug. Get in the habit of turning the lights off when you leave a room. Unplug all energy vampires such as electronic chargers and appliances when we are not using them. This applies to mobile chargers, laptops, computers, TVs, coffee makers, power bars and the list goes on.
5) Bike or carpool. For commutes where biking is not an option either because of the distance, or a because of weather conditions, carpool to work and to & from office meetings.
It’s good practice to take a step back and see where stand in terms of the impact we want to create on the world. Depending on our level of involvement and apathy, we all fall into one or more of the following categories:
Activist: You are out there proactively making big efforts to stop, revert or prevent more damage to the environment. You are the office greenie, and everyone asks you how to sort their rubbish. You make a concious effort to ensure the office is minimizing waste on a daily basis.
Complainer: You enjoy the controversial chit-chat about climate change, but you don’t move a finger to do anything about it. Relying on others to make the changes that are all but too late anyway.
Sceptic: You think that the planet and all the critters are all good. Are we certain that we are even harming the environment? Every year there's some new crisis surrounding the planet. How can we be sure that there is even a real threat?
Slacktivist: You make small but continuous efforts to contribute without compromising your lifestyle. Recycling one day, and too lazy to do it the next. Office Slacktivisits are not the worst, however they know they can do better.
Regardless of whether we are 30% activists and 70% slacktivists, or whatever your personal ratio may be, let’s remember that there is only one planet Earth. Know that alone, we can't change much, but together we can the world. Together, in baby steps, we can make our workplaces more environmentally sustainable.
One beautiful new concept that I’m trying to make it part of my life philosophy is: “Expedition Behaviour”, which “involves putting the group’s goals and mission first, and showing the same amount of concern for others as you do for yourself”. I ask us all to try and do the same for mother nature, and as a result, each other. Mindfulness and awareness about climate change with no action is a waste. Let’s embrace sustainability as a way of living. Let’s do as much as we can with what we have, and any small effort we can put into it, will go a long way.
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Edited by: Linh Nguyen