The environment is never far from the headlines and with more and more people becoming eco-conscious (who remembers when straws were plastic and plastic bags were free?!) it is also becoming a bigger factor in who potential employees will choose to work for.
We all know to switch the lights off at home but with businesses using on average up to 50,00 kWh of electricity a year compared to the average household consumption of 2,500 kWh, it is easy to see how improvements in the workplace could have far reaching benefits to our environment. With businesses now responsible for some of the largest known direct impacts on our environment, being that use of resources, pollution or waste, the team at Meraki felt it was important to look at what our offices could be doing to become more eco-friendly. Following a period of research and planning, we have made small changes and put a number of processes in place to lower our use of paper and significantly increase our recycling.
So, let’s take a look in more detail at what eco-office quick wins the Meraki offices have adopted recently.
There is actually a lot of information and material online for businesses to make a start, British Gas has an article on ‘6 ways to make your small business more environmentally friendly’ and there are numerous articles online to get started, which we found very helpful! Many of these have been implemented immediately and with little or no cost to our organisation. Some small changes we have made in the office have included:
#1 Mindfulness – We have encouraged everyone in the Meraki offices to think about the effect waste items have on the environment through meetings and educational emails. We encourage everyone to think before printing, ensuring all lights, heating/air-con and computers are switched off when leaving the office, encouraging recycling.
#2 Reduce Paper Consumption – we already used paperless recruitment files and are making more of a conscious effort to avoid printing out meeting handouts where they are not necessary. We encourage those who can use their laptops to do so instead of making notes on paper and emailing/viewing slides on their screens instead of printing presentations. When we do have to print, making sure we “print on both sides”
#3 Recycling – We have made sure people have the ability to recycle and have worked to make this as easy and accessible as possible. There are separate bins for cans, paper and plastics to be recycled. As a result, we have less general waste each week! We also have points around the offices for toner/printer cartridges to be recycled as well as separate collections for batteries.
#4 Reduce Plastic Usage – its so easy to go to the shops for lunch and come back with a single-use plastic bag. So, we now have a box at door with reusable bags for employees to take with them. We removed plastic cups from the water cooler to encourage staff to use a glass or their own reusable bottles instead of the using single-use plastic cups.
#5 Office Plants – Not only does having plants in the Meraki offices make for a nicer work environment, but studies have shown they can also can also purify the air, increase morale and boost productivity.
We successfully managed to roll out the majority of these changes across all our offices within just a couple of weeks. We were fortunate that we had the backing of staff and senior management from the very beginning. A lot of the small changes we made were about making it easier and more accessible for our employees to be more eco-friendly. However, if you are looking for support and buy in for your eco-office initiatives then it may help to be armed with the answer to the following question… “what will it cost?”. And to make small changes the answer is pretty straight forward - not very much.
Setting goals, putting signs up around the office and having rewards have been great ways to encourage staff to participate in eco targets. These will also help in tracking our performance such as looking at paper and plastic usage and monitoring the reduction in these areas. This is something we are still tracking, and we are looking at the wider benefits this is having on our teams and we hope to share the results with you in the near future.
We are just at the beginning of our eco-friendly campaign and are in process of planning other changes and projects, including a volunteer beach clean-up. We are always looking for recommendations and ideas on how to be more eco-friendly.
How eco-conscious is your office? What changes could you recommend to small businesses looking to become more eco-friendly?