5 Tips to Grow a Green Workplace

You can kick-start sustainability at your workplace.

 By: Nicole Breakey

Picture this: It is the year 2015, and your company has not yet started to maximize its sustainability. Is this currently your reality? Perhaps you have some ideas in the back of your mind on how you can make changes that are environmentally friendly. If you are like most of us, you may have even started a few discussions about the potential for change in the workplace. You are not doing enough to make positive, actual change. Take a piece of advice from one of the movers-and-shakers of ‘going green’, Steve Howard, who is the Chief Sustainability Officer at IKEA, “…the next decade’s business is going to be shaped by who’s really efficient, where they get sustainable raw materials from, and the way they make their products.” (Steve Howard: IKEA Style Sustainability, Forbes, 2013) Feeling left behind yet? It’s not too late to start making changes.

I work at DOCUdavit Solutions in Toronto, where paper is a titanic part of business. We have adapted the way we operate to make sense for the environment. Yet we are looking at ways to change constantly; the most important thing is a willingness to change. We have solar panels installed on the roof, do our faxing online, have a strict recycling policy, use hand towels in place of paper towel, and have a green Secure Destruction method that breathes new life into decades and literal tonnes of stagnant paper. Aside from all of this, a very big part of our business is taking companies, including medical facilities and legal firms, from paper to electronic. We help doctors convert to Electronic Health Records, get lawyers out of their stacks of paper and into easy-to-use software, and take the weight of paper off of the shoulders of corporations.

 Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling at your own company:

 1) Inspire others: Get employees involved in a great cause that some will take to heart. All it takes is a small change and great leadership to influence change in a person’s life. Working for a company that has environmental values can be beneficial to employee job satisfaction and improve morale.

 2) Stop the constant use of paper: Look at your shredding options (or ours!) and make some space in your office for new ideas to have a home. Once you have cut down on clutter, reduce the amount of printers available and encourage the use of electronic signing for client contracts and human resources.

 3) Provide tech alternatives to paper: Investigate new technology that can replace paper correspondence and open your eyes to efficiency and better project management. There is no need to hand out paper copies of meeting agendas or proposals. Utilize electronic options like Evernote for file storage and sharing.

4) Clean green: Use environmentally-friendly products and practices. At DOCUdavit we replaced our paper towels with re-usable hand towels, which resulted in a more comfortable hand washing experience. With a large staff, the cost benefits of this kind of decision will be noticed immediately.

5) Limit energy use: This one is a no-brainer. Turn off the lights, reduce lighting in low-volume areas, and only plug in what you need. Install solar energy panels. Your hydro bill will thank you.

Let’s clear the air; green is good for business, and there’s no shame in capitalizing on that. Once you make sustainability changes, you are going to have a great new PR angle. Think again for a minute: Is there room to improve the carbon footprint and sustainability at your workplace? Of course there is. Start a discussion and get these changes rolling. DOCUdavit did it, and you can too.

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