We’re in the midst of Green Office Week 2014, and there’s no time like the present to take the plunge and go green in the workplace. Green Office Week goes beyond simply doing your bit for the environment at work – it’s about getting all of your colleagues and management involved too. Green Office Week runs from the 12th-16th May 2014, promoting long-term, environmentally friendly practices in business.
We spoke to Ruth Perrin, Category Manager at Avery UK, to get her thoughts on the importance of eco-consciousness in the workplace – and to find out how Avery UK is taking a proactive approach to greener business in ways that we can all learn from.
“As a business, we understand the importance of producing sustainable products, which is why we created our range of labels manufactured from FCS certified paper sourced from responsibly-managed forests. However, we wanted to go even further and help drive change in other offices around the UK.
Working in an eco-friendly environment we realised that ‘nobody can do everything but everyone can do something’. That was our inspiration for Green Office Week; a week that demonstrates everyone, regardless of job role or responsibility, can do something to help make a difference.”
Now let’s take a look at the stats so we can see why Green Office Week is such an important initiative for the future of the business world – and what you can do to make your office a green one and play your part.
What’s the Problem?
Offices in the UK produce millions of tonnes of waste every year. Unsurprisingly, statistics show that the majority (70%) of office waste is made up of paper. Of this figure, 29% are unnecessary printouts and a further 23% is made up of mixed waste paper. The rest of the 70% includes discarded newspapers, cardboard and various recyclable packaging.
The problem is that the majority of this readily recyclable material goes straight into landfills and isn’t reused – meaning that more trees will have to be cut down to make new paper, rather than paper being produced through recycling old materials.
How Can I Make a Difference?
There are three important Rs to remember when it comes to recycling – reduce, reuse and recycle. These should serve as an easy daily reminder as to how you and your colleagues can reduce their environmental impact.
Reducing the amount of printed paper in the office is perhaps the biggest step any business can take towards reducing their environmental impact – many businesses have been trailblazers in adopting a completely paperless approach. This is fantastic news, although understandably may not be practical for everyone. Remember to refer back to the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle. Do you really need to print this document? Can it be emailed or viewed on a computer instead?
If you’re only printing a document as a draft, consider reusing scrap paper and printing on the reverse side. Many office printers have numerous paper trays, one of which could be re-loaded with scrap paper for this purpose. If you’ve gone through the first two Rs, and need to dispose of paper, ensure that it goes into a dedicated recycling bin so it can be processed by a recycling plant and turned back into fresh paper in the future.
Encouraging employees to read the news online during their lunch break rather than buying a disposable newspaper can make a huge difference. There are numerous major newspapers which offer duplicate free content on their website.
Make sure you get involved – there are numerous ways you can help motivate your office into joining the green revolution. Speak to your boss and take it upon yourself to send out an internal email telling people what they can do to help and how they can get involved. Create posters with the three Rs to serve as reminders in reducing waste in the first place – place these strategically around the office, near printers, and above computers and waste bins.
Another important step is to ensure that your office has access to proper recycling facilities – this could be as simple as buying a second bin for paper waste. If you want to go all out, keep your office’s environmental impact to an absolute minimum by ensuring that waste is separated into as many recyclable materials as possible. These could include plastics, paper, glass and metal, depending on what kind of waste your office produces. Ensure that as little waste as possible is placed into the general waste disposal, as this goes into landfills. Try and limit general waste to biodegradable products – be part of the solution and not the problem.
There are numerous companies offering commercial recycling services, separating and disposing of office waste properly and in an environmentally friendly manner. For further information on your responsibilities in business waste management, visit the Environment Agency website.
Avery UK are excited to see the coverage that this year’s Green Office initiative has seen so far this week: “It’s been great to see the tweets, Facebook posts and pictures coming through. Over the next few days, we will be asking people to share #myecocuppa and #greenselfie pictures to drive awareness further. Thank you Eden Springs for all their support of the week so far.”
At Eden Springs, we’re proud to be carbon neutral. Offering office beverage solutions including water coolers and hot drink machines, we are aware of our environmental impact and have taken important steps towards neutralising it. All of our bottled water is from local, sustainable sources and our water cooler bottles are also reused numerous times before being recycled.