Now is a great time to implement sustainability initiatives at the workplace. With the changing of seasons, you may be thinking of office cleaning… or perhaps you’re inspired to finally put some plans to action! Either way, with change in the air, don’t forget to consider going green.
Below, we’ve compiled our top tips, tricks, and DIY options for greening the workplace. Consider some of these options in the months to come and feel good about doing your part for the environment!
1. Location, Location, Location!
Still looking for a place to set up shop, or are considering relocation? Incorporate green infrastructure into your decision-making process. It may be an added step before finally being able to open your doors, but situating yourself near bike paths or bus routes can invite a wide variety of options for customers and staff to engage with your workplace. It’s also cost effective in the long run, as having these pre-existing conditions can alleviate your need to accommodate car-dependent infrastructure. Say goodbye to the parking pass!
2. Provide workplace amenities for green commuters
Whether providing for your staff or clients, being a green commute-friendly institution (shockingly) encourages green commuters! These don’t have to be big things. Providing coat racks and umbrella stands is very appreciated by pedestrians and cyclists. Safe bike parking out front and perhaps a water station could go a long way for those getting around by bike. Want to go that extra mile? End of trip facilities are a great option to increase outdoor commuting. Staff-exclusive bike parking, shower facilities, and lockers for a change of clothing are all major improvements with big impacts. And don’t forget about programs like GoManitoba and the Eco-Pass! Green Action Centre’s Workplace Commuter Options program can conduct a Commuting Survey at your workplace to collect baseline data on employee transportation modes and work with you to create / enhance your workplace commuting program.
3. Get vocal to your local decision-makers!
It’s a pretty simple equation: infrastructure doesn’t change if nobody knows it needs a change. If you are looking to make your facility more attractive to green commuting, assess your surroundings and determine the gaps. Finding you don’t have any dedicated bike paths, your sidewalks are falling apart, or you aren’t that well situated to bus routes? Tell your local political representative (or contact 311) and tell them this is a priority. And remember: there’s strength in numbers, so if you find your community is of like mind, loop them in!
This one’s easily at the top of our list. Ensuring your workplace has the capability to accommodate for recycling and composting programs can massively reduce your organization’s ecological footprint. Invest in some compost and recycling bins, and remember to provide these resources to your clients / customers. And don’t forget the education component! Adding some posters around your waste stations can help people remember just where the heck to put those disposable coffee cups (the garbage, unfortunately…) Don’t have an outdoor space to compost? Why not give Compost Winnipeg a call! They’ll happily pick up your organic scraps – no fuss!
Many businesses provide incentives for staff and clients who choose to go green, and these go a long way in changing habits. Perhaps choose to go plastic bag free, and instead encourage reusable bags. Maybe consider an incentive for those who bring in reusable mugs or water bottles. The same goes for staff too! Instead of subsidizing all that parking, consider incentivizing cycling or walking by providing them with a gear subsidy. There are lots of avenues to green your workplace, and providing a semi-regular to regular incentive can be just the jolt individuals need to make that green living change.
6. Do a workplace sustainability audit
How much does your workplace print? Do you leave any electronics or lights on overnight? Are there local suppliers with local products that can suit your needs? These and many other questions are a part of considering your own workplace’s environmental habits and policies. Being critical of the necessities of your workplace and adjusting your habits are great steps to lowering your impact. There are a wide array of themes to focus your attention on, but to start we recommend looking at green purchasing, environmentally-conscious product development, energy management and efficiency, and general transportation of goods.
Be a Leader
For some organizations, greening the workplace can be a daunting task, simply due to how large the business can be. For this, some institutional buy-in is required. Discussing what is possible with managers and operational staff is key. Perhaps it requires an environmental committee or a staff steward who becomes responsible for executing environmental goals. Don’t forget that this will require some work, so do your research and remember, Green Action Centre is always here to help!
8. Be a local leader
Thinking big picture, being a green business is good, but becoming a local leader is great. Consider sharing your experiences with local businesses. This helps both build relations within your neighbourhood and encourage capacity building. Why is this important? Creating good business neighbours with common goals can encourage client crossover and help garner long term buy-in from the broader community. Capacity building of like-minded businesses can also help to reshape your community through advocacy. As previously mentioned, adding that bike path becomes far easier if more people express their interest!
9. Be active in your decisions
Throughout the short term and long term operations of staff and the business, green decision-making is important. This tip is a change in your office culture. At any time the business or your staff have to make decisions, consider the environmental impact of each decision and prioritize them. This can be a small day to day task, such as choosing not to print that email off for a hard copy record. It can also be a pretty significant alteration to your workplace operations, such as reworking the budget to invest in green initiatives and adjust your energy and supplies costs.
10. Participate in events
Greening your workplace can and should be fun! Many local organizations provide fun environmental-focused events that cater to business environments. Consider participating in this year’s Workplace Commuter Challenge, or The One Nature challenge. These events spur friendly competition and are great learning experiences, allowing staff to try new green endeavours and potentially incorporate them into their daily habits.
Want to learn more about how to green the workplace? Book one of Green Action Centre’s Green Living Presentations!