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How to assess your office’s sustainability processes


Around the world, businesses and individuals alike are actively seeking ways to work and live in more sustainable ways. Global, national, and local initiatives are driving environmental responsibility from the top down and shoppers are increasingly seeking “eco-friendly” alternatives to regular products. Ensuring your business has a sustainability plan and meets its goals has never been more important.

If you polled your team and asked them what it means to “be green,” chances are good you’ll get many different answers. While some people may think it means living off the land, others may feel that active recycling and composting is all it takes. As an organization, it’s important to define what green means to your business, your team, and your growth.

Green management is all about becoming more aware of how your corporate behavior, working practices and/or production methods impact the environment and then making responsible changes to reduce your eco-footprint and make the business more sustainable.

Besides the very obvious driver in protecting our planet and its resources, boasting a sustainable business plan brings many internal benefits as well. Young job seekers are attracted to companies who actively seek to reduce their environmental footprint, meaning your recruitment efforts could see a boost as you make internal changes. Your brand image will be enhanced, helping your secure more business as potential customers with similar values will be more likely to align with you.

And sustainability can spill over into your bottom line – helping you to save money as you reduce waste, cut unnecessary spending, and improve processes. So what are you waiting for? Here’s how you can assess your office sustainability practices, and tips on how to implement change.

Check national environmental regulations/legislation & ensure you comply

For organizations, failure to comply with national environmental legislation can result in hefty financial penalties and prosecution. Making sure your organization is in compliance with national legislation should be your first step in your commitment to sustainability.

When it comes to employing a sustainability plan, consider the national regulations your baseline and aim to do better.

Audit your organization

Assess your current position on sustainability by auditing your organization’s working practices and understanding their environmental impact.

For example, perhaps your utility bills are higher than you might have anticipated. Upgrading to energy efficient products can help cut your utility bill while setting automatic thermostats based on external temperature can keep heating costs lower.

Maybe your waste production is higher than industry average, or your team is purchasing unnecessary items. It might be time to seek opportunities to reuse or donate items like extra office equipment or perhaps even downsize your office space!

If you find you’re printing far more than you expected, it may be time seek a managed print services (MPS) solution to help your team transition to a more digital space while using the best in print-technologies to reduce waste. Simply moving from one-sided to double-sided print can literally cut your paper usage in half!

Seek feedback

The first step to learning how to be better is to recognize that you don’t necessarily have all the answers. Consider bringing in external experts to complete your audit and provide solutions, or look no further than your own lunchroom. Your team can be a wealth of knowledge and provide important feedback regarding day-to-day processes that could be modified to support your eco-goals.

Find the eco-warriors in your office and allow them to help guide your green management, champion the cause, and effect change.

Now that you’ve audited your organization for compliance, understand your current position, and have feedback to guide your next steps, it’s time to enact change.

Set goals with realistic timelines

As with any element of business, goal-setting helps you keep your eye on the prize. While it’s unlikely any organization will cut its waste by 50% in six months, a 25% reduction over five years is achievable and allows for your team to develop and hone new processes to support the goal.

If applicable, building sustainability into your organization’s strategic priorities can help ensure that sustainable practices are woven into the fabric of every aspect of your daily operations.

Make recycling easy

Recycling is one of the easiest ways to cut down on waste within your office. By placing recycling points in prominent areas in your office (read: not just the lunchroom) along with clear signage detailing what items can and can’t be recycled, you can cut the number of non-trash items heading to the landfill.

While paper and plastic bottles are the obvious recyclable products in your office, don’t forget larger or potentially dangerous items, like electronics or batteries! Look for community partners who accept used computers or partner with specialized service providers for computer or other hardware recycling. Collect used batteries and recycle according to your local or federal guidelines. And, if you’re simply not sure, check with the local regulating body before you throw something in the trash bin.

Get picky about partners

Although outsourcing is a good way to reduce your organization’s waste, it’s imperative you ensure your potential partners are equally committed to eco-friendly practices. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about potential service providers’ sustainability goals or track record!

Managed Print Service (MPS) providers can help you reduce waste while switching to eco-coffee pods cuts your environmental footprint. Seek out goods and service providers who can help you achieve your sustainability goals through innovation and aim to partner with organizations who can make you better.

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