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Sustainability
Sustainability
 | January 17, 2017

Practicing Sustainability in the Office

posted by , Angela Fox

Sustainable Office Habits

As a long-time sustainability activist, sustainable practices come as naturally to me as do other day-to-day actions. And because these Earth-friendly habits have become my default way of living, it can sometimes be difficult to be mindful that not everybody is aware of how to live and work with sustainability in mind.

Being a certified B Corporation, TIS is focused on the triple bottom line: People, planet and profit. One of the many ways we want to give back to the people in our community (and beyond) is by sharing our knowledge, tips and practices we implement in the office to foster as sustainable of a workplace as possible. Check out some of our tips below:

Start a Green Team

TIS Sustainability Team

First thing's first—the quickest and most efficient way for your team to begin implementing more sustainable practices in your office. Creating a Green Team is especially critical for mid-to-large sized businesses with more employees, a larger space and necessity for more resources. Once you've established a green team, your first task should be to evaluate your current standing with sustainability and define your top priorities for making corrections/improvements.

For example, when TIS first established its Sustainability Team in January 2016, their top priorities included: 

  1. Pursuing B Corporation certification
  2. Purchasing a scale for monitoring waste production
  3. Creating a points/rewards system to encourage employee interest and participation in sustainable practices

Waste Management

The amount of waste that we acquire day-to-day is staggering. According to Duke University, the average person generates about 4.3 pounds of waste per day—much of which is accumulated at the office. This number is undoubtedly alarming, but does not have to be your employees' reality! There are several ways to cut down, monitor and better manage waste in your office. Here're some things we've implemented in our office that have helped us produce 3.25 times less waste than the average American worker:

  • Organize landfill, recycling and compost in designated bins
  • Weigh landfill, recycling and compost weekly and track in a spreadsheet
  • Bring your own tupperware and thermoses to restaurants and coffee shops to eliminate the need for plastic or styrofoam carryout containers
  • Use tote bags when running to the convenience store to eliminate the need for plastic bags

Energy Use

Plugging In

It takes a lot of gas and electricity to keep a functioning office, but it's also very common for folks to use way more energy than necessary at work. Think about all of the electronics and appliances that are left plugged in, lights left on, the set temperature on the thermostat... assuredly, there are plenty of small adjustments you can make that will yield significant results in energy savings.

  • Set your thermostat on a timer so it runs at lower heat or A/C during off hours
  • Use natural light to your advantage! Position desks and work stations near windows for optimal lighting
  • When artificial lighting is necessary, use low-emulsion light bulbs or LED bulbs
  • Unplug appliances and electronics when not in use

Purchasing Habits

Recycled Paper

Office supplies are of course necessary for day-to-day functionality; however, tend to be an additional source of waste in the office. When it comes time to purchase office supplies, always opt to shop local for supplies before heading to a big-box office supply retailer. If you're in the Grand Rapids area, we recommend Grand Office Supply in Grandville!

When shopping for office supplies, also keep in mind to purchase supplies made from recycled materials, such as paper, pens, sticky notes, planners, calendars, and so on. Make sure to properly dispose of your office supplies once they run out.

Think Outside the Box

This is where your Green Team will really come in handy. Sustainable practices don't have to be the same-old, same-old—think creatively with how you can incorporate sustainability into the office. For example, a fun way we've encouraged TISers to participate in sustainable office habits is through a points/rewards system. Our Sustainability Team allotted a specific amount of points for completing different activities, such as TIS team workouts, using a tote bag when going to Wealthy Market, taking used electronics to Comprenew, among others. If a TISer receives at least 60 points over the course of two months, then they're entered to win a drawing for a fun prize, like an extra vacation day or gift card.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your office? Share your tips with us below!