Check your company’s mission statement, and make sure it reflects your values. A good mission statement should include commitments to practicing social and/or environmental responsibility and stewardship, creating a specific positive social impact, creating a specific positive environmental impact, or to serving a target beneficiary group in need.
Help all employees understand that the company values sustainability by including it in job descriptions, training programmes, and performance reviews.
Provide training for your employees on sustainability. A simple way to implement this is to hold “lunch and learns” where you either bring in a speaker, share a video, or facilitate a discussion on a topic related to sustainability.
Establish a Green Team for your company. A green team consists of a group of employees who are engaged in advancing sustainability within an organisation. Green teams will often focus on two broad areas. One focus is on the company’s own operations, on examining the sustainability opportunities within the organisation. The second is on educating employees on sustainability and engaging them in actions that they can do at home.
Allocate a training budget for employees to attend conferences, seminars or online training and then have them share with co-workers what they learned.
Set a baseline for your water, energy, and waste usage. These are three areas where your business probably has a significant environmental impact. As the saying goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” so establishing a baseline usage will help you track the effectiveness of your sustainability initiatives.
Set specific goals for your sustainability initiatives. Setting baselines and tracking metrics will allow you to see the effectiveness of your efforts and help make the business case to management.
Replace all fluorescent lights with energy-efficient lights, especially LEDs. Those overhead fluorescent lights in your office may or may not be energy efficient, depending on what type they are. Upgrading to LEDs will save both energy and money.
Use smart power strips that will turn off peripheral equipment when the primary device is turned off. For example, when you shut down the computer connected to a smart power strip, the connected monitor and printer will be turned off, too, helping you to save energy without having to rely on employees having to remember to turn everything off.
Enable sleep mode and power saver features on computers and other equipment. This will reduce power consumption when these items are not in use.
Support your local economy by changing as many of your business purchases as possible to support local vendors. Whether it’s your office purchases, your business cards, or the caterer that you use for business lunches, supporting local vendors is an important way to keep money circulating within the local economy.
Establish an environmentally preferable purchasing policy. Having clear guidelines in place that outline what you can purchase and what you can’t, will ensure that your purchases are aligned with your business values.
Develop a supplier policy to screen your suppliers for positive social and environmental impacts. For example, look for certifications such as B Corp, Green Business, or Fair Trade certifications for the businesses and products that you work with and choose those over their non-certified counterparts.
Replace older toilets with low-flow toilets. Water scarcity is one of the biggest challenges in global sustainability, and toilets are generally the biggest source of water consumption in a typical office environment.
Install low flow taps aerators on your bathroom and kitchen sinks to save reduce your water usage. Aerators will control the flow of water coming out of the taps, and you can easily attach aerators that will reduce your flow to 0.5 GPM (gallons per minute) in the bathroom and 1.5 GPM in the kitchen.
Replace all disposable products in the staff kitchen, including plates, cups, and utensils, and use reusable items instead. Look at how much you spend each year on disposables and compare that to how much it will cost to purchase a set of plates, glasses, and utensils. The change will usually pay for itself in a short period of time.
Display proper signage for waste, recycling, and compost receptacles. Fix samples of items to show which bin it should go into. The added visual element will help people to sort things properly.
Set printers to print on both sides of paper as a default. You’ll automatically cut your paper costs by 50%, so you’ll save money as well as resources (and, when necessary, people can always switch to single-sided printing for jobs that require it).
Calculate the carbon footprint for your business. Carbonfootprint.com for free calculators used by businesses and individuals across the world.
Install a bike rack for employees and customers. Encourage people to use it by letting them know that biking to work is encouraged and their bikes will be kept safe while they’re there.
Provide a company bike for employees to use at lunch time and invest in a couple of extra bike locks that people can use if they forget theirs.
Implement a community service policy for your employees. Volunteer programmes have been shown to increase employee engagement, and they’re also a great way to give back to the community.
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