A yellow cup and green plant on a white desk next to a computer

How to be more sustainable in the office

But, for an office to be truly sustainable in operation as well as during construction, the companies and employees need to fully dedicate themselves to sustainability in the workplace. Here are some fun green ideas for the office which might just inspire action… 

Examine your own behaviour

We all have a long way to come on the journey to Net Zero but a good place to start, for organisations and employees alike, is to look inward in the first instance. It’s easy to conclude that each small action, like printing in colour or buying a coffee in a single use cup, doesn’t matter. But small actions create habits, and good habits can change things for the better. 

Why not create a checklist for yourself? To make sure you don’t ignore the small stuff, and see how all the smaller actions add up. It might look a bit like this…

- Print double-sided
- I don’t need to print in colour all the time
- Remember to take my coffee cup for a refill…
- … And my water bottle to the water cooler
- Can I turn down the brightness on my computer screen?
- Let’s use battery saving mode on my phone, to reduce the need to charge
- How much litter have I created today? Can I reduce that?
- Have I recycled all my waste properly, in the office? 
- Finished! Let’s make sure I turn off my computer and any appliance which might continue running after I leave. 

The same reasoning stands for employers too. Just remember that you’re trying to encourage behaviour change – so make it a goal to achieve, not just a set of rules. 

Buy in bulk

If numerous people in your office are all bringing in their own snacks, milk, sugar, condiments, etc, that’s a lot of excess packaging when you could be buying in bulk. If it’s not already common practice in your office, why not club together with your colleagues for communal condiments and miscellaneous items? Buy bigger quantities to minimise that wasteful packaging! 

This could even be something you suggest to your organisation. These sorts of practices, when brought together, can help form a sustainability plan which enables everyone within the organisation to contribute to the path to Net Zero. 

Prioritising local outlets and those who use recyclable packaging, offer refillable cups, etc can also make a huge difference to your daily carbon footprint. 

Set green challenges

There’s nothing more motivating that a bit of friendly competition!

Why not set green challenges within your workplace? Maybe it’s to see who can generate the least single use plastic, or a lunch club where you feed some of your colleagues from home and vote on who made the tastiest dish? You could challenge your colleagues to get through the month without printing, or to find the best local coffee shop that serves refillable containers. There are plenty of ideas out there on the internet, so why not make it a regular thing?

Each individual green initiative might actually create habits within your team, which in turn will help the planet. Win, win!

Take the stairs

Simple and self-explanatory. If you’re able to take the stairs, you’re saving electricity that powers the lifts in your building. Not only that – your body might thank you too. Did you know you can burn from 5-10 calories going up a flight of stairs? Well, now you do. Climb ten flights and you’ve earned yourself a kit kat! 

You asked: ‘How can an office be sustainable?’ We hope this shows that it’s as much about the small steps, as it is the large ones. We can create buildings that harvest rainwater, minimise energy usage and run on greener power sources; but ultimately the users of the building can make huge strides to making an office sustainable. Think before you act, and stay informed – you might surprise yourself with the number of changes you make on a daily basis.