25 sustainability ideas for the workplace

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jumpstory download20221004 073206 1 25 sustainability ideas for the workplace

Looking for ways to make your workplace more sustainable?

You’re not the only one! In fact, sustainability is no longer just a trend – but an ongoing imperative for businesses and organizations of all sizes and industries. 

To meet this demand, many businesses are incorporating sustainability practices into the workplace through green initiatives. Why?

Because it is cost-saving, efficient, and makes a positive impact on co-workers!

If you’re ready to transform your workplace into a greener place, I will share 25 ideas with you for integrating sustainability into your office space.

Sustainability ideas for the workplace

1) Use recycled paper products

Let’s start with the basics.

Every office requires papers, right?

No matter whether most of your work is digital or on paper, you will always need to print out reports and other documents.

But how can you turn using paper into a sustainability idea for your workplace?

Well, here’s what you can do:

Instead of using regular printer paper, try using recycled paper products instead. Recycled papers are not just eco-friendly – they are also cheaper than their virgin counterparts!

The truth is that paper is one of the most common things found in an office environment, so why not make use of recycled products?

Using recycled paper not only reduces your carbon footprint but also helps conserve natural resources.

Want to know what the additional benefit of using recycled paper in your workplace is?

Well, most recycled paper products are made from recycled paper, and this is one of the reasons why they are cheaper than their virgin counterparts.

However, there are some recycled paper products that are made from virgin pulp. These products make use of unused pulp that would otherwise go to waste.

2) Go digital: use technology to improve efficiency and reduce waste

Although using recycled paper is a great way to encourage your employees to go green, I believe that there are even more useful green practices that you can implement in your workplace.

For instance, you can encourage employees to go digital. Why is that?

Many workplace activities, such as conference calls, email exchanges, and file storage, can be conducted entirely online, saving time and paper.

You can also use technology to monitor electricity use and make sure the office is as energy-efficient as possible.

How so?

Use online meeting tools to replace paper-based conference calls. And use tools like Slack or Google Docs to replace email when appropriate.

Consider using an intranet or a virtual private network (VPN) to store sensitive papers and documents electronically instead of on paper.

The thing is that going digital has many benefits that you can probably imagine.

For one, it saves paper and printing costs. It also reduces the need for printing and reduces paper consumption by up to 95%.

Plus, going digital is much more efficient than using hard copies of documents. While hard copies require scanning and reprinting, digital documents can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection! All you need is a computer or smartphone!

That’s why I consider it one of the best areas that can improve your workplace’s sustainability and efficiency.

3) Make use of recycled materials in your office

Now let’s switch to another great area that you can use to improve your office’s sustainability.

And that is by making use of recycled materials in your workplace.

Have you ever thought about using recycled office supplies?

It could be anything from using recycled paper towels to using recycled furniture.

For example, you can install a recycling bin in your office. Recycle old computer parts, paper, and more.

What’s more, you can make use of recycled plastics in furniture, flooring, and wall panels.

But why would you do that? Are there any benefits?

Well, on a larger scale, as statistics show, 10,000 tons of waste creates 1 job, while landfilling the same amount creates 6 jobs.

So guess what?

Using recycled materials in your office can help you to contribute to creating as many as 36 jobs!

Based on the National Recycling Coalition report, recycling has already created 1.1 million jobs worldwide.

So, if you also want to help people, benefit the economy, and contribute to the environment, it’s time to start making use of recycled materials in your office.

4) Try office recycling programs

Okay, even if you understand how important it is to use recycled materials in your office, you might wonder where you can start.

And I agree — it’s not easy to actually realize sustainability ideas in the office.

So, let me share with you the easiest way to implement recycling ideas in your office.

Have you ever heard anything about office recycling programs?

Well, it should be the first step on your road to sustainability to implement an office recycling program!

Why?

A recycling program makes it easy for employees to reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill, which saves money and increases overall workplace efficiency.

One of my favorite practices of this kind is called “closed-loop recycling” because it allows businesses to reuse various products and materials over and over again, rather than recycle them into new products.

One popular example of closed-loop recycling is the use of recycled paper in paper towels or toilet paper rolls.

By using these types of recycled paper products, you not only help reduce waste but also save money, as they cost less than virgin versions.

Plus, they are made from 100% recycled content, which means they are highly sustainable!

So, that’s the easiest thing you can do to make it as easy as possible for employees to recycle office waste, without having to go out of their way.

5) Commit to being a vegan workplace

Speaking of office programs that can help your employees work in a sustainable workplace, here’s another program you can implement to help you reduce the amount of waste going to the landfill.

Yes, I’m talking about a vegan workplace!

Everybody in your office has lunch during the day, right?

And I’m sure you all are aware of the fact that buying pre-made lunches is a huge waste of money and materials.

So why not implement a vegan office program?

But what if you started serving only plant-based food for your employees and visitors?

Becoming a vegan workplace is a great way to reduce waste, protect animals, and make a positive impact on the environment.

Switching to a plant-based food service will make your workplace more sustainable and healthier, too.

Benefits include lower food costs, reduced carbon emissions from the food delivery process, and improved health for both your employees and guests.

I know serving your employees with plant-based food might not be the cheapest thing you can do but at least, you can encourage them or offer rewards for those who are willing to go vegan.

And you know what else?

As it turns out, being a vegan office is not only good for the environment but also for your employees’ health.

That’s why more and more companies are starting to implement vegan policies in their offices.

6) Offer eco-green commuting and transportation benefits

Did you know that the average American spends about 200 hours commuting every year?

And that’s 200 hours of wasted time.

So why not give your employees the opportunity to use their time in a productive way?

The easiest way to do this is by offering eco-green commuting and transportation benefits.

Believe it or not, many companies already offer employees commuting and/or carpooling benefits, or even provide a stipend for employees to use public transportation.

These programs help reduce traffic congestion in cities and cut down on pollution.

They also make life easier for employees, who can avoid long commutes or stressful driving conditions.

These benefits also help reduce the cost of doing business, since they reduce the need for employees to drive to work in their own cars.

So think about it!

One great benefit is giving employees a monthly stipend for using public transportation, or even bikes!

Now, I know there are many people who have no choice but to drive their own cars to work but even so, you can still encourage them to be more eco-friendly by offering carpooling opportunities and other incentives.

7) Provide bike racks or storage lockers for employees

Regarding transportation, you can also encourage employees to use bicycles instead of cars.

Now, I know this may not be possible in all cities but at least, you can provide bike racks or storage lockers for employees who would prefer to ride a bike.

By doing this, you are not only encouraging employees to get some exercise but you are also helping the environment by reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion.

What’s more?

You can even offer rewards to those who are willing to go eco-green.

So, provide bike racks or storage lockers for employees who bike or walk to work.

You can also provide showers for employees who bike or walk to work – some companies will even pay for their employees’ shower memberships!

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Providing bike racks and showers helps encourage healthy habits among your employees, plus it reduces traffic congestion on busy streets.

And as a result, you’ll show your employees how much you care about the environment and their health too!

8) Use more energy-efficient light bulbs

You can’t deny that light bulbs are among the basic yet essential office supplies to be aware of.

But sadly for our planet, most offices use fluorescent lights for lighting their offices. Why so?

Well, many of them are still unaware that there are better and more sustainable alternatives available!

So why not switch to energy-efficient lighting?

One of the best ways to reduce energy use in a workplace is to make sure you have the right lighting fixtures.

Switch out old incandescent bulbs or fluorescent lights for LEDs or another energy-efficient lighting.

You can also install motion sensors to automatically turn lights off as people leave a room, or dimmers to control brightness levels as needed.

You can save even more energy with smart lighting fixtures that are connected to the internet.

They let you control them remotely, saving even more money on energy costs and making for a more comfortable workspace.

And if you have the budget available, replace your fluorescent lights with LED or CFL bulbs in your office.

These kinds of bulbs only consume up to 1/5th the energy that your old-fashioned fluorescent light bulbs do.

This will definitely save you a lot of money on electricity bills!

9) Install motion sensor lights in all of your office spaces

Are you wondering what’s the best way to switch to energy-efficient lighting in your office?

This might not be the easiest step, but it’s certainly the most rewarding in terms of energy savings.

Motion sensor lights are a great way to cut down on electricity costs, especially if you have a large office space.

These kinds of lights only turn on when someone enters a room and then turn off after a certain amount of time.

This way, you get to save energy and money!

So, try to install these kinds of lights in all your office spaces, especially if they’re large and you have a lot of employees.

10) Replace office machines with newer models that are more energy-efficient 

One more way to reduce energy use in your office is to replace older machines with newer models that are more energy-efficient.

Replace office machines with newer models that are more energy-efficient – you can even ask the manufacturer if they have any rebates available for purchasing new machines!

Also, consider buying used equipment rather than new equipment – this will save you money while reducing waste from unnecessary packaging materials and shipping fees that are associated with new equipment.

If you do purchase used equipment, make sure it is still working properly before using it in the office!

Buying used equipment is a great way to cut down on costs without sacrificing quality and functionality.

Now, you might be hesitant to do so because you don’t want to spend money on something that you don’t need.

But the truth is, these kinds of upgrades can save a lot of money in the long run.

After all, replacing your old machines with newer models that are more energy-efficient will reduce your electricity bill and help save the environment as well!

So think about it: why not replace some of those old machines with newer ones?

You’ll be saving a lot of money in the long run, and your planet will thank you for it!

11) Purchase eco-friendly cleaning products

A clean environment is important to make sure that your employees stay healthy and motivated during work hours, right?

If this is what you’re looking for, here’s what you can do:

Instead of using regular cleaning products which contain harsh chemicals and may harm the environment when disposed of improperly, use cleaning products that are made from natural ingredients like vinegar and baking soda instead!

There are many natural cleaner brands out there for you to choose from such as Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Method, and Ecover.

And is indeed a great way to reduce your office’s carbon footprint is to use eco-friendly cleaning products.

These kinds of cleaning products are made from all-natural ingredients, which means they’re safer for the environment.

They’re also more cost-effective in the long run because they don’t require you to use as much product as regular cleaners do, which means you can save money on your cleaning supplies!

So before you buy any cleaning products, make sure that they are eco-friendly.

12) Use a reusable water bottle for drinking water

Considering that drinking water is an integral part of office culture, it’s important to ensure that your employees have access to clean, safe drinking water.

If you’re like most office workers, you probably have a cup of coffee or two every day.

This means you will need to refill your water bottle with drinking water at least once a day.

You can do it on your own – but it is much better if you can get everyone doing it!

That way, you save money and reduce waste caused by plastic bottles.

Plus, it also makes a small but impactful change to the environment! One thing you can do is ask your co-workers to bring their own reusable water bottles instead of using plastic ones!

This not only reduces plastic waste but also encourages people to drink more water throughout the day! 

So if you’re looking for a way to reduce the number of plastic bottles you use, here is what you can do:

Instead of using plastic water bottles that are not recyclable and may contain harmful chemicals, get a reusable water bottle instead!

So think again before you buy any drinking containers for your office or home, make sure that they are eco-friendly.

13) Use reusable mugs and cups in the office

Not only can you reduce the number of disposable cups in your office, you can also encourage your co-workers to drink more water!

Another way to reduce the amount of plastic waste in your office is by using reusable mugs and cups instead.

This will not only save you money but also help the environment!

And you know what else?

If everyone in your office uses reusable mugs instead of disposable ones, it will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste in your workplace!

14) Bring a reusable bag to work, instead of using plastic bags

Let me take a wild guess.

Whenever you go to the office, you probably use plastic bags to carry your lunch boxes, your snacks and other stuff!

Now imagine how many plastic bags you will use in a year!

I mean, it is not just one or two plastic bags a day. It’s probably more like 10 or 20. So this means you will have to buy at least 200 plastic bags in a year!

And that’s just for yourself. Think of all the other co-workers who also use plastic bags to carry their lunch boxes and snacks.

So if you are serious about reducing the amount of plastic waste in your office, then it’s time to stop using disposable plastic bags!

Instead, get yourself an eco-friendly bag that you can use over and over again. You can even ask your co-workers to do the same thing – so everyone will be using reusable cloth bags instead of disposable ones.

If you want some inspiration on how you can make this change happen, here’s my tip:

If everyone in your office uses reusable cloth bags instead of disposable ones, it will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste in your workplace!

15) Bring a reusable container for packing lunch

This one is related to the previous point and is also about using eco-friendly supplies for your office.

If you are like me, you probably pack your lunch box in plastic bags. This is not a good idea because you will be adding more plastic to the environment!

So instead of using disposable plastic bags, I suggest that you bring a reusable container for packing your food. You can also use this container for packing snacks and other stuff as well.

And if everyone in your office does the same thing, it will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste in your workplace!

16)  Use electric staplers and hole punchers

Not only eco-friendly water bottles and containers, but you can also be eco-friendly in other areas of your office.

For example, you can use electric staplers and hole punchers instead of traditional ones.

These electric staplers and hole punchers don’t produce any waste – unlike the traditional ones, which leave metal staples and paper punches behind.

So this is a good way to reduce the amount of waste in your office!

Activities to promote sustainability in the workplace

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17) Create an event to brainstorm new ideas for sustainability

Now let me switch to actual activities you can do to become more sustainable in your workplace.

The first thing you can do is create an event where everyone in the office can brainstorm new ideas for sustainability.

You see, offering your own ideas might not be as effective as making your employees brainstorm new ideas for sustainability.

If everyone in the office participates and contributes, it will be much easier to come up with some solid ideas!

You can get everyone involved in the brainstorming process and have them express their views and suggestions on how to become more sustainable.

If you want some inspiration on how to run such an event, here’s my tip:

Create an environmental task force or committee to brainstorm new ideas for sustainability.

You will be surprised by how many great ideas your team members have! 

If everyone in your office is involved in this event, it will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste in your workplace!

18) Collaborate on environmental initiatives

Have you ever thought about working with local schools and community organizations to collaborate on environmental initiatives?

If not, this is a great idea!

In fact, working with local schools and community organizations can be more effective than working with your company.

For example, you can have students from your local school or community organization help you with your environmental projects.

By doing this, you will be able to reach out to a wider audience and get more people involved in the activities!

You will also be helping the children of the community by getting them involved in environmental activities.  And that’s a great thing!

19) Decorate your office walls with green artwork

Another great activity to transform your workplace into a more sustainable one is to decorate your office walls with green artwork.

I know it may sound a little bit strange, but this is actually a very effective way of promoting sustainability in the workplace.

You see, offering your employees the opportunity to decorate their office walls with green artwork will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste in your workplace!

If you want some inspiration on how to decorate your office walls with green artwork, here’s my tip:

Decorate your office walls with pictures of trees and plants.

These pictures can help you and your staff visualize how beautiful the environment can be if we all work together to protect it and inspire your co-workers to do so!

20) Ask employees to bring plants into their workspace 

Okay, this one might also sound a bit weird but you’re the leader and you want to encourage your employees to care more about the environment, right?

Therefore, asking your employees to bring plants into their workspace is one of the best ways to encourage them to care more about the environment.

And if they do so, they will reduce the amount of plastic waste in your office!

Why does this work?

Well, the reason is that your employees realize how much you as a leader care about the environment, and they are inspired to care more about the environment too!

However, before you ask your employees to bring plants into their workspace, it’s important that you first make sure that your office has enough space for them.

If not, this might be a bit too much of an effort for your staff.  In this case, you should reconsider this idea and come up with something else instead!

But either way, this kind of initiative will help them realize how beautiful our natural environment is and encourage them to work harder to preserve it!

21) Organize an employee clean-up day for the local park or beach 

One of the best tips I can give you to promote your employees’ efforts to protect the environment is by organizing an employee clean-up day for a local park or beach.

And here’s how you do it:

First, you should identify which local park or beach your company is located at and then use this information to brainstorm ideas on how to organize an employee clean-up day for this location.

For example, if your company is located in a city that has a local park or beach and if this location is frequented by many people on their way home from work, you might organize an employee clean-up day for this location.

But if not, you could also organize an employee clean-up day for a nearby national park or even at a nearby public beach.  

You see, there are many options for where you can organize this kind of activity!

22) Place posters in restrooms that encourage employees to use less toilet paper

Want to know what inspired me to become more eco-friendly?

Well, believe it or not, it’s a story that happened in a public restroom!

You see, I was visiting this public restroom, and while I was there, I noticed a poster that was placed on the wall of this restroom.

And on this poster was a message that was written in bold letters:

“Toilet paper is for wiping and not for throwing away”

Well, I read the message and I was impressed!

I thought to myself, “Wow! This is one of the best environmental messages I’ve ever seen!”  And then I also thought to myself, “I wonder if there are more posters like this in other public restrooms?”  And then I went home really excited about it.

So, why don’t you do the same to inspire your employees to become more eco-friendly by placing similar posters in other public restrooms?

And the best part about this is that you can also use these posters to motivate your employees to take action and start practicing some of the other tips above!

23) Offer classes on recycling, composting, and zero waste living

Keep in mind that if you actually want to implement sustainability ideas in the workplace, you need to raise your employees’ awareness of these ideas.

And the best way to do this is by offering classes on recycling, composting, and zero waste living.  

For example, you could offer a class on how to recycle at work and then give your employees a certificate of completion for this class.  

Or perhaps you could organize a composting event where your employees can learn how to properly compost their food scraps at home.

And don’t forget to make sure that these classes are not only educational but also fun!

24) Organize “green” parties in the workplace

What’s better for employees than attending a company-wide party that’s all about green living?

Well, you should always try to find creative ways of bringing sustainability ideas into your workplace!

And one way that I think is very creative is by organizing “green” parties!

By having “green” parties at work, you’re actually being proactive in helping your employees become more eco-friendly and sustainable!  

And what’s even better about this is that if you’re organizing these parties with other companies as well, then chances are that other companies will also be hosting similar events at their own workplaces!  

So if you want to get more exposure for your company’s sustainability efforts, just go ahead and organize a green party at your workplace!  

A lot of people will be glad that they saw this party…and they’ll probably tell all of their friends about it too!

25) Offer incentives for bringing reusable materials

And the final and most effective strategy to implement sustainability ideas at your workplace is to offer incentives for bringing reusable materials

For example, you can offer gift cards or company swag whenever your employee brings in a reusable bottle, jar, or another item that can be reused.

Or you could even offer your employees a raise in pay if they bring in reusable items!  

This way, they’ll be more likely to bring in these items because they’ll want to get something out of them.

Final thoughts

Now that I have given you 25 eco-friendly tips to reduce the amount of plastic waste in your office, I hope that you will be able to implement at least some of them!

By putting the ideas in this article into action, you can transform your workplace into a greener place.

Make sure to also educate your employees on how they can be a part of the change.

And once you do this, I guarantee that other people will start noticing and asking questions about these sustainability ideas as well!

Nato Lagidze

Nato is a writer and a researcher with an academic background in psychology. She investigates self-compassion, emotional intelligence, psychological well-being, and the ways people make decisions. Writing about recent trends in the movie industry is her other hobby, alongside music, art, culture, and social influences. She dreams to create an uplifting documentary one day, inspired by her experiences with strangers.

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