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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Employees: ways to be greener

Greener living doesn’t stop when you leave the house. There are many things you can do at work to help the environment and tackle climate change. You may be able to get your employer or trade union interested too.

1. Choose greener travel options

Changing the way you travel to work can reduce climate change effects and local air pollution. Things you can do include:

  • walking or cycling to work, or using public transport
  • using teleconferencing and video conferencing instead of travelling to meetings
  • trying not to fly to business meetings
  • if you have to fly, considering offsetting the carbon emissions from your flight
  • exploring with your manager the scope for working from home
  • car sharing instead of driving alone
  • encouraging your employer to organise secure cycle storage and showers at work

2. Reduce waste at work

Help reduce your impact on the environment by dealing responsibly with the waste you produce at work.

Recycling and recycled products

You can champion recycling at work by:

  • ensuring there are paper recycling bins close to desks or printers
  • asking your employer for separate recycling bins for glass, paper and plastics
  • encouraging your boss to buy recycled office paper

Switching equipment off

Cutting energy wastage will help reduce climate change impacts as well as saving money.

Wherever it's safe to do so, turn off electrical equipment overnight or when it's not being used. Don't forget computer monitors and other equipment which often gets left on standby. You can also make sure any lights that aren't being used are switched off.

Printing

If you want to lessen the carbon footprint from printing, you could think about:

  • reducing the size of documents and printing double-sided to save paper
  • suggesting changing printing settings so double-sided printing is the default
  • adding the slogan ‘Think before you print’ to the bottom of emails

3. Promote greener food and drink options

Food has a large impact on the environment. The following actions could help:

  • encourage your caterers to stock food that is fresh, locally in season, Fairtrade or has been produced with respect for wildlife and the environment
  • take a mug or glass to work and use it instead of disposable cups
  • set up a compost bin, or arrange a collection, for kitchen waste

4. Set up an EcoTeam

EcoTeams is a project run by an organisation called Global Action Plan. They bring together groups of people - for example, in workplaces - to make small changes to reduce their environmental impact. The Global Action Plan website can tell you more about how to start an EcoTeam (there is a charge for the materials).

5. Encourage your employer to be greener

Making a workplace greener will reduce its impact on the environment - and in many cases can save money. Here are some suggestions you can make to your employer.

Making car travel greener

Travel can contribute significantly to climate change.  Some practical ideas to reduce car travel include:

  • if your company owns a fleet of vehicles, it may be possible to get a free consultation with the Energy Saving Trust to help lower running costs and environmental impact
  • setting up a business travel plan can help reduce car use and the need to travel for work
  • businesses can apply for a Cycle to Work tax exemption loan for bikes and cycling equipment
  • your employer could provide and promote a car share scheme and priority parking for car sharers

Ideas to save energy and be greener

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Business Link has advice on making businesses greener, including how to make the case for going green and a tool to help businesses save money
  • suggest putting in place an environmental management system, a practical tool that helps increase efficiency, save money and reduce environmental impacts
  • businesses can get free advice from the Carbon Trust on saving energy and money - including advice on interest-free loans and tax relief on some energy efficient products
  • Envirowise offers advice to UK businesses on becoming more resource efficient and saving money

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