Last week was Green Office week - but that doesn't mean it has to stop there. Whether you joined in or had no idea it was happening, we're here to remind you of all the little things you can do to make your office a greener place forever more.
Let's start with lunch - because who doesn't love food?
Environmental charity Hubbub recently surveyed 1,200 UK office workers, with more than half of them admitting that they were buying takeaway lunches more than they used to five years ago. Lunch on the go is on the rise - and 99% of the time it comes in some kind of plastic packaging - whether it's reusable, single-use, or masked as something papery and eco-friendly (often these have a waterproof plastic lining, so don't be fooled!).
Our takeaway habit generates an estimated 11 billion pieces of waste per year - that's around 276 items of waste per person!
Don't despair - there are lots of things you can do to help change this, for both yourself and the whole office.
Aside from writing to your local lunch go-to to complain about their packaging (which you definitely should do), you could also be solving more than one issue by bringing your lunch with you to work. And it doesn't even involve any extra effort on your part if you bring in last night's leftovers, and might even save you some pennies in the long run (did you know that British workers spend £5.5 billion each year on shop-bought lunches?). You'd also be helping tackle food waste - which means less food going to landfill where it emits greenhouse gases - so a smaller carbon footprint for you!
If you don't have time for all that, or just love a takeaway lunch, consider bringing in your own lunchbox to fill up instead of using a takeaway container. We're crowdfunding for a beautiful biodegradable bamboo lunch box (available in black or cream) that will make all your colleagues green with envy - check it out on Indiegogo here.
Prone to a morning latte or three? Make sure you're using a reusable coffee cup. If you're in need of one, we have glass ones available on our site, and we're also crowdfunding for some lightweight, bamboo ones, available in multiple colours and sizes, from just £9. Get yours here.
If you play a bigger role in getting in snacks, tea or milk for the office, make sure what you're getting in is as eco-friendly as can be. Oat milk is a great dairy free option, as it's far less damaging for the planet. Consider getting a Work Box from Oddbox, full of the loveliest wonky or excess fruit you can imagine. Some brands also use plastic in their teabags - so make sure you're choosing an eco-friendly brand like We Are Tea - or switch to a brand like Percol or Coromandel Coast for your coffee. You could also encourage office wide initiatives like Meat Free Monday, or even challenges like Veganuary and Plastic Free July.
If you have the power, why not ban plastic water bottles and disposable coffee cups altogether? It's cheaper in the long run to bring in your own, and far, far less wasteful. If you need over 100, we can even provide our beautiful coffee cups and isothermal bottles with your company's logo on - just email us and ask.
Reusable cups for everyone’s coffee break!
There are also other little changes you can make to the way you go about your daily tasks, include things like using a sustainable search engine such as Ecosia (who have planted nearly 60 million trees just through their ad revenue), asking your office to switch to a renewable energy provider, like Bulb, or using an eco-friendly web host. Even just deleting old emails can make a difference. Did you know that a typical year of incoming mail for a business user creates a carbon footprint of around 135kg? That's the equivalent of driving a car 200 miles!
Our next tip? Take your home habits to work with you
Around 82% of office workers are more environmentally friendly at home than in the office - with around 36% of employees admit to chucking paper in the rubbish bin, compared with only 18% who do this at home. This is crazy, seeing as we spend just as much time at work as we do at home. By behaving like you do at your digs - recycling, turning off the lights and turning down the heating - it all adds up and makes a huge difference.
To help encourage others to adopt more eco-friendly behaviour, make sure that bins are clearly labelled (and call people out if you see them not recycling or chucking food away!), and if you don't have one already, invest in a compost bin for food waste.
Finally, find out where your company invests its money, and ask if it supports any charities or has any initiatives to help minimise its environmental impact. Some organisations like TreeEra can help you offset your carbon emissions by planting trees on your behalf - and if you sell a physical product, consider a buy one plant one scheme, like we have at A&O.
Got any tips for us, or think we missed something key? Let us know in the comments! And don't forget to share this post with your colleagues - it's always easier to make a difference if someone else has your back!