How many hours per week do you spend at work? For some of us, we, unfortunately, spend more time at the office than at home. If you are caring about the environment, you might then wonder how to be more sustainable while at work. This is great because sustainability can be implemented in every area of your life including in your job.
I’m talking about an office job today first because it has been a year that I’ve been working on this blog. Second, because Oliver has an office job and I could see what he could implement in his daily working life in terms of sustainability. That’s how I got inspired by this article.
If you work in another industry, I’ll be more than happy if you contact me to talk about how you can be more sustainable in your field of activity.
How to be more sustainable at work? 5 easy things you can do
The two first tips of this list have already been mentioned in our article about Easy switches to become more sustainable in 2021. However, it would have not made sense at all to talk about how to be more sustainable at work without mentioning those two. As they are probably the easiest and quickest to implement in your daily working life. So here we go.
Use Ecosia as your new search engine
How many times per day do you research information on the Internet? Most of us are using Google for this. It even became a verb “I’ll google it”!
But what if all those times you do research you could have a positive impact on the environment? What would you have to do? Basically nothing. Only use the right search engine. Ecosia. It might feel weird at the beginning and request a little effort to erase this habit of going on Google. In the end, it is totally normal as we use it since we started using the Internet. But the first thing that can help you with this is to set up Ecosia as your main search engine. Like this, as soon as you open your browser, the Ecosia home page shows up.
Ecosia was born in 2009 and has been created by Christian in order to fight against deforestation and digital pollution. In 2014, it became the first German B-corp. In 2019, 60 million trees have been planted and Ecosia built its own solar energy plant in order to power every search made through its search engine.
This is such a simple gesture you can implement in your everyday life as well as at the office. A simple gesture, huge impact. And this is what I mean by saying that every little step counts. You don’t need to become the perfect eco-friendly person in the world and change everything about your way of living. Only implementing those little steps that don’t cost you any time or money can have a great positive impact on the planet.
Reduce your emails
A few months ago, I used to give weekly tips on our Instagram account (I don’t really have the time anymore but I will try to go back to it, I promise!) Using Ecosia was one of them, but I have also talked to you about emails.
A few years ago, I had no idea about digital pollution. Digital products can’t be touched or seen, it is only appearing on your screen. So how can it affect the planet and contribute to global warming? Well, it does. Each Internet research, email, streaming process, etc. generates CO2.
Do you know how much CO2 represents one email without any attachment? Around 20 grams. So now, how many emails do you receive per day (professional, personal, newsletters, etc)? How many do you send?
This is the reason why our second recommendation is to try to reduce the number of emails sent and received.
First, delete the emails you do not need and empty the bin.
Second, unsubscribe any newsletter you don’t have the use for or never read.
Third, avoid answering emails that don’t really need an answer like “Ok, thanks. See you later”
I believe a lot of us are already aware of this point. However, sometimes printing is so quick and easy, as well as implemented in our lives that we tend to forget its impact.
First, in the US for example, the paper represents over 12,500 tons of waste. The two main consequences of paper production and waste are deforestation and water supply issues. And well, you know what trees can do for us… Keep our atmosphere breathable!
Second, printer cartridges. Their components are just awful for the environment including petroleum oil and plastic packaging that include even more harmful components. If you need to use a printer, there are 2 things you can do to be more sustainable. Find out if there is a place where they can refill your cartridges. It will also be cheaper than buying new ones and like this, you don’t throw away your empty ones, you reuse them. Also, if the first option is not possible. Throw them in the right recycling bin, not in the waste bin.
Last but not least, a personal tip. We sometimes received PDF to print but only a few pages needed to be printed. For example, a form that you need to print and send back by mail only. It happened many times to me that only the first page was to be filled and the second one only contained company information such as their contact details at the bottom of the page. Leaving the rest of the page blank. In this case, when you are about to click on the “print” button, you can usually select the page(s) you want to print. Only select the one you need to fill up and send back by mail.
So as you can see, printing is not only bad in terms of paper waste. Consequently, one thing you can do to be more sustainable at work but also at home, think twice before printing. Only print when it is really necessary.
Bring your Tupperware for take away
Single-use plastic is one of the worst things humans ever created. Really, I don’t think I need to go into details about the consequences of single-use plastic on our environment and health.
Fortunately, governments and industries start to work towards more sustainable single-use items. This is great but it is slow and still something you throw away. So why not use a Tupperware box to take away your lunch?
You will be surprised about how many restaurants are totally ok with filling up your Tupperware box instead of serving it in their container. Oliver tried it when he was still going to the office in Paris before the pandemic. Sometimes they refuse, but most of the time they don’t mind at all.
Other people will see you doing it, your colleagues, other customers, and you might inspire them. Maybe some of them thought about it but never dared. Don’t wait for others to do it, do it!
Dare to share your values and talk about what matters for you. If you care about the environment and it breaks your heart to see so much paper used for printing documents that will end up in the trash, or all this plastic in the hands of your colleague at lunchtime, speak up! Nicely of course. Start the topic, share your ideas. Even in meetings, offer sustainable options that could benefit everyone, your company, and the planet. Companies are aware of the importance of becoming more sustainable. Some follow the trend and please their customers and partners. Others because it is one of their core values and really care.
So share your ideas about how to be more sustainable at work! The worth case they don’t agree and you continue to act for more sustainability your way. Best case they implement your ideas and the more the people, the bigger the impact!
Be the example. Humans tend to follow what others do. So be the leader and show your colleagues how to be more sustainable and most importantly explain why to have a real positive impact. Give them examples for them to understand the importance of sustainability if they are not aware of it. Even though we hear everywhere that the planet is dying, we don’t really explain why, how, and the consequences on humanity. A person who only watches the TV news will only have the point of view of those media. We need to talk about those topics and share our points of view and knowledge in order to understand better what is happening and our impact.
I hope this article will help you in your working life and encourage you to spread the word and become an example in terms of sustainability. As we always say, you don’t need to implement everything at once. Little by little it will become a habit, instead of doing everything and stopping a few months later. However, most of those tips don’t require more time or money so there is no harm in trying.
Feel free to comment below to share your ideas and share this article widely on your social media to have a bigger positive impact on the planet 🍃