“If there is to be an ecologically sound society, it will have to come the grass roots up, not from the top down.”
Paul Hawken, The Ecology of Commerce

It is not easy being “green”. After all, we have been brought up “in and with” plastic, it is so convenient to forget to take our own eco-friendly totes to the stores when we always the option of paper or plastic.

What you do continually adds to your habit; nothing is easy but when done consistently comes easy.

Going “green” can be a part of you. You can easily practice green habits at your present company and take on the initiative to further implement environmentally practices.

Employees must initiate a healthy green workplace that supports environment friendly habits and not wait for a higher management initiative or enforcement of such habits at the workplace.

Initiatives are opportunities and a showcase of your leadership skills. Use it to your advantage as you could be in the list of your orgs most valuable contributors.

However, the chances of implementation of a greener workplace will work better if organizations practice such green habits habitually and not only for a day or two in celebration of Earth day or otherwise. Even small contributions worldwide can help in reversal of global warming and help in improving the present deteriorating health of our environment.


Tips you can easily follow to implement a healthy work environment

  • Recycle paper
  • Do not print out documents which can be easily read or edited online, paper is precious; save trees by using less paper and using only 100% recycled paper when needed.
  • Use your own mugs and glasses instead of the Styrofoam and plastic cups
  • Put computer on the sleep mode at a shorter duration
  • Ever felt why you feel so cold inside the building when it’s so pleasant outside? “Why is the AC turned on to freezing – maybe to keep me awake!” If you feel that turning down the thermostat at your workplace can still result in comfortable working condition or even turned off at certain days, then inform your building management, do not assume someone else will.
  • What type of lighting is used in your office area? Can you propose/convince your management to consider planning on some areas of natural lighting when remodeling or planning on a new office?
  • Bring lunch from home, takeouts and even eating at cafeteria means using plastic spoons, forks, foam cups and plates, all these adds to the garbage every day. Bringing your own reusable lunch containers and home cooked food fosters healthy eating habits as well.
  • Turn off computer and lights when leaving work and if you see your office brightly lit in the middle of the night; it is time to act – time to report or request authorities to be on the “greener” side
  • Carpool to work whenever possible and use public transport at least a few times a year, or bike to work if feasible. If your work permits and your manager supports your telecommuting request, go for it. According to a report: One person telecommuting just one day a week can reduce emissions by 400 pounds per year.
  • If you practice green habits at work and home, tell and influence your colleagues and friends

How are we doing currently

Research among more than 1,000 employees found the workplace behaviour of many sat in sharp contrast to their environmental efforts at home. While 94% said they switched off domestic lights whenever they weren’t using them and 85% said they switched off their home computer after use, only 66% turned off lights in the workplace and only 53% shut down their computer at the end of the day. When it came to making a hot drink, over half of those questioned (54%) said they would only boil the amount of water they needed at home, while fewer than 10% said they did the same at work. (Source: Guardian)


What the Organizations can do on their part to provide a Green Workplace

  1. Apply green building principles to your office buildings. They affect natural retargets, land use, energy use, worker and public health, and community well being. With sustainable design – or green building – tools, the federal government can protect human health and worker productivity, reduce costs and risks, and build with greater responsibility towards future generations. Green Building principles lead to building in greater harmony with the environment, consciously sustaining and renewing natural retargets. (http://ofee.gov/sb/sb.asp) (Source: http://www.earthday.gov/atwork.htm)
  2. Clean Green. Using environmentally preferable cleaning supplies helps reduce pollution. (http://www.epa.gov/epp/pubs/products/index.htm)
  3. Organize “cleaning weeks” and free recycling opportunities at your campus
  4. Plant more trees around your campus and organize “green Earth days” where employees can contribute an hour or more towards environmentally healthy practices – either helping in tree planting around the campus or in the city or contributing towards recycling and volunteer work towards nature conservation
  5. If you run an office cafeteria, encourage your kitchen staff to plant a vegetable garden if you have space around your office. Grow as much as you can, contribute to the environment
  6. Encourage employees to telecommute. Telecommuting presents opportunities to save fuel, time and less pollution in the environment. Many businesses are making it easier for employees to work at home, enabling office downsizing and a reduction in energy costs. At Sun Microsystems, 55% of employees have chosen to spend at least part of their time working from home, resulting in an estimated 29,000-ton reduction in carbon emissions. (Source: Environmental Defense Fund ad in BusinessWeek)
  7. Get rid of old office machinery which takes up lots of energy, replace them with energy efficient computers, laptops and solar heating for cafeteria etc.. Replacing old desktops monitors with an efficient laptop that displays the Energy Star logo, and setting it to go on sleep when not in use, can save about 500 pounds of carbon dioxide every year. (Source: rd.com)
  8. Install waterless toilets or those similar to WaterSaver Technologies developed by Aqus system which recycles sink water into toilet-flush water.
  9. Reduce company travel and encourage employees in different time zones and also those within the same country to video conference whenever possible. Telepresence, the high-definition videoconferencing systems developed by companies like Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, enable virtual face-to-face meetings with natural audio and no delays. Cisco estimates that the use of Cisco Telepresence internally has saved nearly $80 million in travel costs, with a corresponding increase in productivity, faster decision making and improved quality of life for employees. (Source: Environmental Defense Fund ad in BusinessWeek)
  10. The company officials also can take initiative to organize monthly or bi-monthly “green work environment” meetings for all employees. In such meetings update and inform employees on how they can contribute to a healthy work environment and what the organization is doing to contribute to a greener workplace. Assign action items to groups, a meeting without action items and accountability has no meaning.
  11. Initiate installation of solar power at the office, even a small step can be a large contribution
  12. If possible offer official buses and shuttles for employee commute, else provide incentives for carpooling and public transport usage
  13. Large retail offices and buildings must strive towards energy reduction. Policies and guidelines must in place at all building to monitor excessive energy use and implement cutting back wherever possible

Retargets on being Green at Work:

  • Looking for more tips to help the environment while at workplace? Perhaps a good retarget would be the book titled: True Green @ Work: 100 Ways You Can Make the Environment Your Business, published by the National Geographic Society

How can you contribute or how are you contributing to the well being of our earth at your present workplace?