Making your workplace greener is a no-brainer. With the climate emergency at the top of the agenda, there is an expectation from government and society that organisations play their part. It’s great for the image of your business, does your bit for the planet, and will save you money. It makes for more satisfied staff too, as more and more people are concerned about the impact of the climate emergency.
Recently we shared what Changeworks does to reduce its environmental impact. As an organisation committed to helping others live a low carbon life, we have to be the exemplar – and hopefully it got you thinking about what you can do.
Whether you’re the boss driving the change, or an employee looking to kickstart the process, getting where you work to cut its carbon impact isn’t always easy. There’s tons of advice and support out there so you can get your workplace on the road to low carbon living, but don’t worry – we’ve pulled together some of our top tips into one place here.
Win hearts and minds
While there are loads of practical measures we can suggest, winning hearts and minds is the real key to going green. If you can get people at all levels across your organisation to buy in to the idea of making changes, you’re already a lot of the way there.
Policies and procedures don’t tend to work in isolation, you have to change staff culture. Whether you’re a manager or not, you can have an impact on that. If you see your colleagues not recycling, or the right facilities to recycle aren’t there, mention it. When you’re planning travel to a meeting, suggest they consider the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. The most effective way to make progress is to implement ways of monitoring that success. If you can get access to the energy bills for your workplace, you can track the direct impact of energy efficiency improvements.
Establish a Green team
One of the best things you can do in your workplace is start up a Green team. Anyone can start it, but it really helps to have some buy-in from managers and from different areas of where you work. If you build a team with representatives across the workplace, they can filter ideas down directly to their colleagues and encourage them to take part. Best of all, this will provide a willing and fertile ground for ideas and suggestions. From there you can move forward with clear objectives and goals.
Once you do have support or resources to make changes, start with small things. Improve your recycling capacity, and switch to low-energy bulbs – but make sure you’re also effecting cultural change so that people turn them off! Changing staff behaviours and attitudes has to be backed up by strong policies and procedures. The two work in tandem.
Get on the road to sustainability
Transport is one of the biggest contributors to emissions, with traditional combustion cars a particular culprit. If your workplace has company cars, or regularly uses taxis for business travel, see if you can encourage more sustainable choices like public transport or teleconferencing. Changing your fleet doesn’t have to mean extra spending, even if switching to low emission vehicles will save money in the long term – consider if you actually need all the vehicles you have, and see if car sharing could prove more efficient. Cutting out a car entirely is an easy saving!
Use support available
You won’t be alone in making these changes, organisations across the UK are going through this transition. Zero Waste Leith, a community based project run by Changeworks, runs a Business Charter to support local businesses to make improvements and cut their costs by providing free support, advice and training. So far 115 businesses have signed up, with many having made significant wins in reducing their waste and energy usage already. Maybe there’s a network of organisations you can get tips from in your area – or maybe you can start one!
As you can probably tell, there’s so much you can do – from small wins to huge victories, everything you do to reduce the carbon impact of your workplace makes a difference. It might seem daunting, but don’t worry – there’s loads of support available.
Changeworks can offer tailored training and support for staff and management to identify where efficiencies can be achieved, and be with you every step of the way to make sure the change you want is embedded, not just introduced with no follow up. According to Resource Efficient Scotland, who can offer free advice on these kinds of carbon-saving changes, workplaces can save £9,000 annually on average by embracing low-carbon, energy efficient practices – that’s a whole lot of money being wasted!
Above all, there’s no time like the present. Even if it’s just making the smallest change, even if you just make it yourself and tell others about it, it all makes a difference. You’d be surprised how much influence one person can have – let alone a whole group of like-minded green employees!