It doesn’t matter if you’re a small business owner, an employee in a large corporation, or one of the 57 million contractors working with a company temporarily, there are always opportunities to be a voice of reason within the workspace. This is especially true when it comes to sustainable business practices.
In the past, environmental initiatives were often scoffed at. In the 21st-century, though, ethical behavior and sustainability are part and parcel of a successful business strategy. The only problem is, eco-conscious activity doesn’t necessarily happen naturally — especially in business where profits push everyone to be as affordable as possible, regardless of the effects on the environment.
If you’re looking for ways to make an environmentally-friendly change in your company, here are a few simple, easy-to-apply suggestions to help you do so, regardless of your position in the org chart.
Set Up Smart Goals
The first thing that you should do is set up reasonable goals that can be reached. These may vary depending on your position, but regardless, it’s wise to set an objective before you begin making changes.
Start by setting up some SMART goals:
SMART goals can be the difference between success and failure. If you strive to eliminate all carbon emissions when your company cannot afford the attention or manpower, it’s the wrong time. If you aim to donate a million dollars to environmental causes when your startup is small, that may not be achievable. If you aim to broadly “help the Earth,” the lack of specificity may lead to subpar results.
Look for goals that can be clearly delineated based on the SMART goal model. Then record them in a digital location that is easily accessible for everyone on your team. This will give you a guiding light to work toward in the future.
Going paperless is one of the simplest, most effective green initiatives possible within an existing workplace. In fact, paper accounts for 50% of all business waste.
The argument that paper is still the safest bet for business dealings is hardly applicable at this point. Online options like a PDF can require login credentials, email authentication, and digital signatures, making them equally secure compared to a traditional paper document — if not more so.
In addition, ditching paper is often not just good for the environment, it’s also good for your bottom line. Many thriving environmentally-friendly businesses have found that the simple act of getting rid of paper can not only be an excellent policy to attract customers, it can also directly increase profits. Electronic alternatives to paper are often streamlined, simple, and cheap making them excellent replacements that can create a more sustainable business while simultaneously increasing your bottom line.
Reuse and Recycle
Much like paper, instilling a recycling culture into your business is a great way to encourage sustainability without investing huge amounts of time or capital into larger initiatives. Points of focus should include both reusing discarded items in order to increase their life and effectiveness as well as recycling items that cannot be properly reused.
A recycling and reusing attitude may be cost-efficient and effective, but it typically can’t be established with a quick meeting or a memo. It still needs to be properly fostered through:
- Education and communication of your staff or coworkers.
- Clear recycling rules and behaviors that can be followed within the office.
- Clean recycling that doesn’t create messes or smells.
- Rewards for individuals who take the time to invest in recycling activities.
Fostering a culture that is positively focused on both reusing and recycling things that would typically be thrown away is an excellent way to make your business more earth-conscious.
Get Everyone On Board
It’s important that you, as an individual, are firmly committed to clear SMART goals and eco-friendly behavior in the office. However, it’s also absolutely essential that you recruit others to help with your activities. No matter how passionate you are, one person cannot save the environment.
With that said, it’s wise to also spend time focusing on encouraging employees to engage by making them part of the change itself. This may seem daunting, but it often can be easier than it looks — especially if you approach it with the right perspective.
For instance, if you simply try to command your staff to be more environmentally aware, many will likely resent the added tasks and be apathetic in their involvement. However, if you strive to share your passion, mission, and responsibility with others in your workplace, it can encourage them to actively participate as equals in creating a solution. Fifty-two percent of disengaged employees attribute their disinterest to having a lack of purpose. By inviting apathetic staff members to participate in creating a greener office, you enable and empower them to find greater purpose in their work.
Naturally Building a Sustainable Workplace
Whether you’re implementing a new paperless policy, trying to reuse an old desk, using recyclable coffee pods, or any other eco-friendly activity, there are many small-yet-powerful ways to champion a greener business model.
If you want to succeed, though, the two most essential steps revolve around setting SMART goals that keep you on track and encouraging those around you to join in the activities. If you can tackle the eco-friendly problems in your workspace as a team and with an objective, you’re much more likely to ultimately succeed in building a greener workplace.