The top 10 ways UK offices have gone green

It’s all very well us making environmentally-friendly changes at home, but businesses and large corporations need to make changes too.  It always frustrates me how we are scrubbing out finished jars of peanut butter at home ready for the recycling bin, hoping to make a difference, yet there are large businesses creating significantly more waste who don’t even bother to recycle!

And, of course, there are the supermarkets and brands who continue to package their products in no end of non-recyclable packaging.  They really need to step up and take responsibility.  I feel like the small person is made to feel so guilty for every action, yet the large companies are constantly getting away with not making any significant changes or at least not making them quickly enough.

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I know first-hand that there are some large companies that aren’t even recycling yet.  A couple of years ago I worked at an industrial park and every office/unit put all their black bin bags of rubbish into one large skip which was collected each week.  There were hundreds of businesses there.  I have no doubt that the skip was simply collected and taken to landfill.  There were no recycling points or organisation of materials.  Just all the rubbish and waste from the kitchens to the offices and even the toilets were chucked in this one big skip.

Related – Your ultimate guide to an eco-friendly kitchen

That was in 2017 and you really would have thought a huge business park would have recycling bins and collections in place!  I really detested having to throw bin bags into that skip and I even brought some plastic bottles home with me sometimes so I could recycle them in our household bin!

Luckily there are many businesses that are putting changes in place and getting their staff on-board to be more eco-friendly, especially in office based environments. There was a recent survey made by Seareach to find what makes your office green and which elements play an important part towards an improved workspace.

Here are the top ten ways that offices have gone green according to the results of the survey:

  1. Paperless – Work is stored digitally 20%
  2. Labelled waste bins – Suitable for recycling 18%
  3. Solar panels for electricity 14%
  4. LED bulbs – Use less energy and more efficient 12%
  5. Green heating 9%
  6. Reusable bottles 7%
  7. Bike facilities 6%
  8. Electric car charging points 6%
  9. Motion-triggered lights 5%
  10. Plants and natural light 3%

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Seareach’s tips on how you can make these changes in your office.

Go paperless – Scan and archive paperwork to help to move completely digital. The more you can store digitally and the less paper you use, the more you will transform your office into becoming green.

Label recycling waste bins – Clearly labelling your waste bins will help and encourage staff to recycle. With clear and concise instructions, it makes it easier for employees to follow.

Solar panels for electricity – Enable you to have lighting and run lower power appliances. The photovoltaic cells use the sun’s energy to provide a green renewable energy source.

Installing LED bulbs – The energy consumption of LED lights can be up to a 75% saving, compared to halogen bulbs. This results in much less energy required and is a cost-effective effort towards your office running costs.

Green heating – The cheapest source for heating and is very efficient. Easy & cheap to install and performs well.

Reusable water bottle – Bring in your own water bottle that can be refilled at work. From this, you’ll reduce the number of discarded plastic bottles.

Bike facilities – Providing a bike rack can encourage employees to cycle to work, cutting down pollution and helping with general health and fitness.

Electric car charging points – Electric cars provide more energy efficiency up to 85-90%, over ICE (Internal Combustion Engines). These are overall much greener and don’t require expensive fossil fuels in order to operate.

Motion-detection lights – Having these all-around communal areas helps improves energy efficiency. These can be ideal in seldom used rooms or shared rooms, such as small meeting rooms. This will save energy if people are in and out and often forget to turn off lights.

Plants and natural light – Having plants in your office will aesthetically soften the work areas with boring colours and can help oxygenate the office.

Speaking about the study, Stuart Jailler at Seareach commented:

“As you can see from our list, there are various ways we can all help the environment. By contributing little by little every day, we all can do our part towards creating a healthier environment, reduce the number of waste that we generate and start recycling more.”

He continued:

“Interestingly, storing your paperwork digitally came out as favourite from our survey results. Non-essential paperwork, inefficient waste going to landfill and not being recycled and storing your work online, was primed the most important part towards making your working environment green. This was closely followed by clearly labelling your waste bins for recycling.”

One important tip I would like to add is for businesses (and individuals) to recycle your tech.  If you’ve got unused tech (but potentially still valuable) items just lying around then it might be worth selling them online or just using an established company to exchange them for cash. Selling your old iPad could recoup a decent amount – and Apple products in general, could fetch more than you may think.

Offices should take steps to reduce plastic, landfill waste and even recycling waste too

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Is recycling all it’s cracked up to be?

These are definitely some great tips and it’s really important to ensure offices cut down on any throwaway plastic they have too, such as throwaway coffee cups or water cups next to water coolers.  Hopefully this is already being encouraged in workplaces with staff bringing their own refillable cups and bottles to work.

You may have read my article about where our recycling really goes which is an eye-opener to the fact that a lot of our UK recycling gets shipped abroad where it litters their streets or becomes their landfill waste!

Even when we recycle we can’t be sure that it really is recycled and the whole process of creating things such as plastic water bottles and then recycling them into something else is going to cause some air/water pollution, even if we are reusing the plastic.

Of course we should all recycle any recyclable materials in the hope that they are actually recycled, but the best strategy is to look at where any recycling waste or landfill waste is coming from and to see if there is a reusable, digital, compostable or eco-friendly alternative instead.

Just today I’ve seen an initiative on Facebook in my home town of Cheltenham called Plastic Free Cheltenham which is linked with an environment charity and has managed to get the council involved.  They work with local businesses to help them make changes to become plastic free and award them with plastic free status and marketing on their social medias and website for recognition.

Things are definitely heading in the right direction.  Is your business making enough changes to go green?

What to read next

Is it possible to save money using renewable energy?

Plastic waste can be turned into roads (and 20 ways to reduce plastic consumption)

Eco-friendly home improvements for a greener home

Make your own walking treadmill desk and be healthier at work

How to make life less stressful as a working mum

Tips to stay healthy when you work from home

4 tips to create a healthy and motivating home office

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This is a collaborative post

Images – Canva

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