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Health and Wellness

Make your office more environmentally friendly with these 10 steps


Teen activists like Greta Thunberg and social movements such as Extinction Rebellion have made major steps recently in pushing environmental issues up the global agenda and awakening world leaders to the imminent impact of climate change.

But there's plenty more that can be done on a local level to help combat global warming and lead a more sustainable life.

That includes in the workplace. From lights to air conditioning and food waste, offices account for almost 20% of all commercial energy consumption, according to the World Resources Institute. CNBC Make It spoke to Stephanie Dickson, co-founder of conscious festival Green Is The New Black, who shared her tips for making your office that bit greener.

Stephanie Dickson, founder of Green Is The New Black.
Green Is The New Black

1. Start a green team at work

It can be easy to stick with the status quo at work because "that's how it's always been," but establishing a team of like-minded colleagues can be a great way to push new ideas and agendas.

Rally together a group of eco-ambassadors who can help develop and implement new sustainability initiatives around the workplace and see how your impact grows.

2. Cut out single-use plastic

Introducing a zero single-use plastic policy can be a challenging but effective way of cutting your office's environmental impact. Start by exchanging plastic cups and takeaway boxes for reusable containers, before cutting back in other areas like office supplies.

Get buy-in from your colleagues by gamifying the process. Create a leaderboard where teammates can earn points for refusing single-use plastics, or start a plastic swear jar requiring a $2 donation for every piece of single-use plastic used. The money can go toward a team social or a charity donation.

3. Recycle and reuse

Recycling is an easy environmental win, but it's surprising the number of offices that lack the appropriate facilities. If your office is among them, you can find an external supplier that will directly collect your items.

In doing so, however, make sure your colleagues are educated about what can and cannot be recycled, and the correct ways of doing so. In Singapore, for example, 40% of recycled waste winds up contaminated because people do not clean their items first.

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4. Offset your carbon footprint

Offices provide plenty of opportunities for offsetting your carbon footprint. Start by commissioning an audit of your company's CO2 emissions, then think about how you can neutralize them

Corporate travel, including flights and daily commutes, is generally a good place to target first, before looking at other areas such as energy consumption. You can counter those emissions by purchasing carbon credits or investing in carbon sequestration schemes.

5. Go vegetarian

Animal agriculture is one of the planet's most energy-intensive industries, accounting for 9% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

You can counteract its impact by opting for a vegetarian diet at work. Try taking that one step further by making sure all catering for internal and external events is vegetarian only.

6. Make gifting eco-friendly

Set an ethical tone with your corporate gifting by opting for fair-trade and eco-friendly products. Alternatively, consider gifting experiences or contributing to environmental programs, such as tree planting schemes.

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7. Green your energy

Renewable energy today presents a readily available and competitively priced alternative to traditional energy sources.

Go one step further by also implementing energy-saving mechanisms, such as setting all computer screens to turn off after 5 minutes of inactivity.

8. Properly dispose of e-waste

Electronic waste, such as ink cartridges, batteries and laptops, are packed full of precious metals which can be recycled but, if not properly disposed of, can cause serious environmental damage.

There are plenty of companies that will collect your e-waste and ensure it is correctly taken care of.

9. Get eco office supplies

Office supplies are often overlooked in the move to go green, but there are plenty of environmentally friendly options out there. Try looking for stationery, paper and cleaning products that are sustainably produced and have received a green certification.

10. Run environmental workshops

Maintain momentum around your new environmental initiatives by hosting regular talks and workshops to spread the work.

Lunch and learns offer a great opportunity to grab your colleagues' attention and educate them on new topics. You can even invite local NGOs, brands and entrepreneurs along to share more about the work they are doing.

Young woman gives presentation to her colleagues.
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Green Is The New Black will be holding its next Conscious Festival in Singapore on November 2 to 3, with members of the public invited to attend its series of talks and workshops aimed at promoting environmental living.

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