We only get on Earth, and we often take it for granted. The 46th annual Earth Day is next Friday, April 22nd. Here are some ways your workplace can get involved and truly make a difference in taking care of our environment. Try one, or really commit and try them all!
Turn Off the Lights
Energy-efficient bulbs use 25-80% less energy than traditional.
If your workplace has natural lighting, raise those blinds and turn off those lights! Unless bright light is absolutely necessary for the safety of your tenants, see if they wouldn’t mind just using sunlight for their workday next Friday. Or, if that is too much to take on simply remind everyone to turn off all lights in rooms that aren’t occupied. Including restrooms, break rooms, the community kitchen and in storage closets. Consider installing automatic light fixtures, that turn off after 15 minutes of inactivity. These work great for restrooms where people often forget to turn out the light once they leave. Upgrading to this type of lighting control can save up to 50% of the cost of average lighting.
Allow Your Team to Work From Home for the Day
Working from home will save companies an average of $45 per employee per day.
If you already have a flexible work policy at your office, go you! Encourage your team to take this day to work from their normal home office. If this concept is new to you, consider the benefits of enacting a temporary work from home policy for the day.
Studies show employees are more productive, have a better work-life balance and have higher retention rates than employees who solely work in a traditional corporate environment. Also, if this working arrangement is going well for both the employer and the employee - a full-time remote worker saves a company $11,000 per year in real estate and utility expenses.
The United States alone uses 345 million gallons of gas per day.
If many of your office lives in the same area, consider having a carpool sign up in a common area. This could be for once per week or a few times per week, and individuals could rotate who drives so the burden is equally shared.
If carpooling isn’t an option, post up bus transit pickup and drop-offs and the nearest public transportation if your city has one. To encourage bikers to ride to and from work, have bike racks out front, or dedicate a space inside your building for workers to store their bike safely.
Hold a Waste-Free Potluck
Each year Americans throw away enough plastic forks, cups and spoons to circulate the equator 300 times.
Have everyone in your department bring their own reusable plates and utensils to work from home (or use the ones already in your kitchen) and bring a dish to share that doesn’t need to be warmed up. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, turkey wraps, fresh fruit, bite-sized veggies like carrots or grape tomatoes, family-style bagged chips and cookies or brownies all work well. Bonus points if you don’t use the refrigerator.
Instead of individual cans of soda or bottles of water, have pitchers with filtered water and iced tea available. It will be a great way for everyone to spend time together, while doing your part in eliminating necessary waste and electricity.
Provide Recycling at Each Trash Can
Recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours -- or the equivalent of a half a gallon of gasoline.
In the average workplace, 80 - 90% of waste is actually recyclable. To figure out exactly what is going to waste at your office, do a survey. Reach out to whoever picks up your recycling and see what is even able to be classified. Start small, offer paper recycling bins with smaller openings next to the trash can. Be sure they’re in a different color, and they are clearly marked. The smaller opening should deter people from mindlessly throwing trash in them by accident. Once this is successful, slowly try expanding to offer bins for more items like aluminum cans and eventually dedicate areas for disposal of large items like ink cartridges and old electronics. By making it as easy as possible for your workforce to recycle, you should see positive results.
Plant a Tree
Over 2.5 million trees are cut down for human use, every day.
It’s a simple and humble act of giving back to the earth. By planting a small tree or other plant, you’re helping to remove CO2 from the air around your workplace. Having live plants in the office is also a healthy way to keep the air clean. They also release oxygen, and cool off areas during the summer. Trees can also help prevent soil erosion, by slowing runoff. Here are some things to consider when planting a tree. If planting a tree outside isn’t possible, consider these easy-to-maintain indoor plants. Some ideal options are the Ming Aralia, which only needs watering every few weeks or Fittonia, which actually thrives in fluorescent lighting. Either way your office is sure to appreciate the beauty that comes with more greenery in your space, and the Earth will be grateful as well.
While these ideas and activities may take a bit more effort than normal, the reward will be worth the investment. Providing a clean, office that gives back is important to many people, especially your Millennial employees. If we all make a few changes to our daily routine, we can turn simple motivation for change into action. We know our environment will be thankful. Happy Earth Day!