There have never been more reasons for businesses to adopt more sustainable business practices – actions that help in reducing waste and your carbon footprint can also improve employee engagement. A survey revealed 10 per cent of workers (and three quarters of millennial workers) would be willing to accept a reduced salary to work for a company that’s environmentally conscious.

Make Reusable Cups and Bottles The Norm

An image looking over the shoulder of a woman sitting at a desk holding a reusable coffee cup in one hand and working on a tablet with the other hand.

Most offices run on a steady stream of hot coffee – how else would we get anything done? But the stats on our coffee habits are pretty shocking: Australians throw away 2.7 million takeaway coffee cups every day. You can make a difference by ditching the disposable cups and plastic stirrers and replacing them with reusable cups instead. Employees should be encouraged to use reusable cups and care for (read: wash) their own. The same rule should apply for water. Reject single-use bottled water and encourage thirsty workers to fill up their own reusable drink bottle. By encouraging these more sustainable changes and promoting initiatives such as “reduce, reuse and recycle” will help to reduce the carbon footprint of your business.

What to Try 

Have a Plan for Recycling Paper

Here’s an easy step to action right away: source paper recycling bins and set them up around the office. Next, send a friendly email encouraging staff to curb their printing habits, where possible. Make a commitment to only buying recycled paper going forward – both for the printers and for note-taking. (Did you know paper fibres can survive the recycling process up to seven times?) In addition to using recycled paper, with Officeworks’ Restoring Australia Initiative you can be paper positive – for every one tree used, two are planted, which restores landscapes across Australia. For printing, consider refillable cartridges for printer ink or choose printers with ink systems that last longer. Over time, it might be worth trying to go paperless where possible, instead relying on digital storage as well as sharing solutions, like Google Docs, Dropbox and cloud computing.

What to Try 

SEE ALSO: How Officeworks’ Tree Planting Is Restoring the Environment

Save and Switch to Energy Efficient Lighting 

First up, switch off the overhead lights, draw back the curtains and utilise natural lighting if you can. Replace traditional light bulbs with energy efficient ones – hot tip: LED lights use less power than other types, making them a more sustainable option. Make sure lights are being switched off at night and over weekends when the office is empty, or try installing motion sensor lights. Choose light switches that incorporate timers and dimmers, as these can help increase your energy savings. Win-win.

Hot Tip: Discover how Officeworks is committed to making a difference with its move towards more sustainable energy, reducing emissions and planting trees to replace ones used.

Choose More Sustainable Cleaning Products

A figure wearing a dark top and a watch uses an orange microfiber cloth to wipe down a black office desk.

Start a revolution in the tea room or kitchen by swapping out paper towels for a more sustainable option, such as microfibre cloths. Note, too, that if you are still relying on heavy duty cleaning products, particularly in the bathrooms or food prep areas, these can be damaging as they make their way down the drain and out into the environment. Instead, opt for cleaning brands that are free from synthetic preservatives and fragrances.

What to Try 

SEE ALSO: The Best Ways to Keep Employees Happy, Healthy and Productive

Reduce Waste & Recycle Everything

Make recycling a priority for your business. Provide bins for recyclables such as cans, glass and PET bottles and cardboard, and ensure they have clear labels so workers can quickly and easily sort their waste. Fun fact: you can drop off your used ink and toner cartridges at Officeworks stores and they’ll recycle them for you. You know what else? They also recycle e-waste, like old computers, printers and accessories, mobile phones, batteries and even writing instruments such as pens. 

What to Try 

SEE ALSO: Electronic Recycling: Everything You Need to Know

Buy In Bulk

Save money, time and excess plastic packaging ending up in landfill by choosing to buy office supplies in bulk. With volume purchases, you can save on fees (and carbon miles) by having fewer deliveries and, especially with cleaning supplies, larger capacity items mean less plastic to reduce waste. Items to consider for helping your business’s carbon footprint are bulk purchases of toilet paper and tissues, photocopier paper and other office necessities.

Bring Some Greenery Into The Office

A group of three people sit at a round table with laptops, smiling and chatting. The room is well lit, lined with tall windows, and there are several potted plants.

Visit your local nursery and stock up on indoor plants for your office. Bringing nature indoors has multiple benefits – it can help make workers feel less stressed and are more productive, plus some plants help to improve air quality and reduce pollutants, including this list of recommended indoor plants, such as peace lilies and fiddle-leaf figs.

Choose Better Office Products

Being economical is one thing but sometimes scrimping on workspace supplies, tech and furniture can lead to being wasteful, when you wind up having to replace these items more frequently. It pays to do your due diligence – research before you buy and invest in high quality pieces and supplies for your business that will last the test of time. Vote with your wallet by purchasing office products made from more sustainable materials such as bamboo or cork or opt for products made from recycled materials. For office furniture, aim for items that have FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification; a reliable certification that indicates when products are made from sustainably sourced materials. Continue to support circular economies and buy from companies that use recycled materials to manufacture their products. Invest in tech made from recycled materials like the Acer Vero 23.8” FHD Monitor or Logitech Lift Vertical Ergonomic Mouse Graphite, both made from over 70 per cent recycled materials.

What to Try 

 A collection of office stationery products made from recycled materials sit together on a green backdrop.

Establish Broader Sustainable Practices, Too 

Do what you can within your business, then look outwards for ways to increase your reach. Buying from, working with and supporting other companies with sustainable initiatives is an easy first step. Officeworks has a long-term plan to reduce its environmental impact with customer recycling programmes, as well as native tree planting and land restoration projects. Encourage workers to be more environmentally friendly on their commute to and from the office by installing bike racks or considering a system whereby employees can work staggered hours to avoid peak hour traffic, or even work remotely 1-2 days a week.

SEE ALSO: Tree Regeneration 101: Greening Australia

This article was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.