Every year on Earth Day, most of the world stops, steps back and reassesses the health and sustainability of our planet. And every year, it seems the results are more dire.
More animals appear on the Red List of Threatened Species, huge tracts of indigenous forest disappear and extreme weather conditions are more frequent and more devastating.
The good news, according to most researchers, is that there’s still time to reverse the damage to our environment, provided we all do our bit. Here we’ve provided seven simple steps you can take at work to make a positive difference.
1. Use intelligent e-waste disposal
The world produces almost 40 million metric tons of e-waste each year, only 13% of which is recycled. The rest is dumped in landfills, where toxic metals leach into the soil and our underground water sources.
Disposing of e-waste doesn’t have to be time consuming or difficult. There are dedicated e-waste recycling companies in all major cities, and many have accessible drop-off points.
Zenzele Electronic Waste Recycling and Computer Scrap Recycling in Johannesburg, Electronic Cemetery in Durban and Cape E-Waste in Cape Town are some examples of South African waste recycling companies that can help you dispose of e-waste in a safe and responsible manner.
2. Get smart about commuting
Cars are one of the biggest culprits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. If just two people share a ride to work instead of travelling on their own, that already cuts emissions (and your petrol costs) by half!
So aim to organise a lift club or use public transport. Better still, buy a bicycle or commute on foot. Also, take the stairs instead of the lift, and you’ll be doing your bit for both the planet and your waistline.
3. Go completely paperless
With the technologies and equipment available in most offices today, there’s little excuse left for using large volumes of paper. Instead, scan documents, save them in PDF form and archive them on a hard drive or on the cloud. When you need to distribute information, attach it to an electronic document or an email.
Using cloud-based software and apps, you can also easily create, track and send documents, invoices, and statements, with no printing required.
If you do have to print out important information, load your office printer with a re-manufactured printer cartridge and recycled paper, and print on both sides of each sheet.
4. Get green cleaning products
Stock up on eco-friendly cleaning products. The best products are free of ethoxylated ingredients, sulphated surfactants, and parabens, ingredients that are more toxic to the environment than crude oil.
Green cleaning solutions use non-toxic and non-hazardous bio-remediation technology to get your office sparkling clean. Beyond Green, EcoSmart and Green Worx are suppliers of eco-friendly cleaning solutions in South Africa.
5. Prepare lunch at work
Invest in a set of durable crockery and cutlery, and prepare healthy, nourishing lunches for your employees as an added perk. Set up a roster, and encourage all staff members to take turns creating farm fresh salads, steaming hot soups, and whole wheat sandwiches for the team.
There’ll be no extra food packaging, or disposable knives, forks and napkins, to throw in the trash, and your work team will be happy, healthy and super productive!
6. Use natural light
Energy-saving compact fluorescent lights (CPL) and light emitting diodes (LED) use up to 80% less energy than conventional light bulbs. They can also last up to 25 times longer. That’s a massive saving for a step that’s cheap and easy to implement.
Of course, the most eco-friendly solution is to use natural light whenever possible. It’s better for the eyes, and doesn’t cost a cent. As far as possible, arrange your workspace to make use of this resource – for example, positioning desks adjacent to windows.
7. Cut the air miles
An easy way to lower your carbon footprint is to cut the air miles. Rather than flying all over the world for business meetings, opt for video conferencing instead.
There are several free and low-cost apps that simultaneously link you with multiple delegates in destinations all over the world. Skype, GoToMeeting, and iMeet are a sample of functional video conferencing software applications that you can use to keep connected from afar.
The Workspace provides office space and coworking facilities that are accessible, close to transport nodes and full of natural light. We support video conferencing with high-speed fibre internet, and have the tools and equipment to help your business go paperless. Contact us for more information or to arrange a tour of a branch near you.