You aren’t going to want to miss these fresh new ideas!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve read several “quick tips for sustainability” that have left me feeling less than inspired. So I did some research and wanted to share with you some fresh ideas that I’ve found. If you are really wanting to make a difference without breaking the bank, these can point you in the right direction.

Sustainability can sometimes be one of those words that sounds daunting. We think we need to go through a ton of planning, cost analysis, and implementation to be “sustainable.” But that’s not the case at all! Sustainability can be simple.

You can make a significant impact on your office sustainability with just a few easy and cost effective tips. Becoming more sustainable ultimately saves you money in a number of ways, so it’s a win for you and your department and makes you look great company-wide for making a positive difference.

Here are 5 smart (and easy) ways you can bring sustainability to your workplace.

1. Make “unplugging” a habit.

In certain European countries, all lights in the office are turned off when everyone goes to lunch. This seems like such a small task, but lighting can account for 30% of office energy costs, so every kilowatt matters. Even computers at ‘standby’ can use up to 40% of the electricity that they use when active.

The secret is making it a habit to turn off computers, lights, copiers, and other electronic devices when no one is in the office. If you do it each day regularly, then it just becomes the norm.

To make it easy, first get in the habit of turning off the lights when you leave the office (just like you tell your teenagers at home). Then for larger items like computers, printers, and copiers, you can put them on a surge protection strip, and simply turn off one master switch at the end of the day. The energy saved will not only make you more sustainable, it will also save you money each month.

Energy Protect Insulation coating for buildings

2. Paint the walls and ceilings with clear insulating paint.

Do you know that insulating with Energy Protect™ insulation coating costs just 60 cents per square foot? So you can easily implement a painting project to increase energy efficiency in your building at a very low cost.

Customers typically report saving between 20% to 40% on their heating and cooling bills after using the coating to increase the energy efficiency of their walls, ceilings, or skylights. That can mean a significant savings in your monthly facility energy bill.

Because the coating is easily painted on with a sprayer, brush or roller, you could implement a project to do one office at a time, then use those energy savings to buy more insulation coating for the next section of your building. Smart, easy, cost effective, and…… definitely sustainable! (PS: It’s mold and UV resistant too!). Check it out here.

3. Source local vendors.

While you may be used to purchasing items from a larger vendor that ships from across the country, you may actually find a better deal by sourcing some of your materials locally.

Sourcing locally means that each raw good you buy has made less of a carbon impact because it doesn’t have to travel as far to get to your door. You can calculate these into a lower carbon footprint for your own goods and services.

This can also mean big savings in shipping for your company. If it’s something you order each month, then even a 10% savings in shipping costs can really add up by the end of the year. Many times if you’re sourcing locally, you can pick up what you need, and get rid of the shipping costs all together. If you have big orders through national vendors, many now offer local pick up service. (Staples, Best Buy)

And often, if you support a local vendor, they may support you right back by buying your goods and services because you have the ‘Home Town Advantage.”

4. Embrace the digital (paper free) age.

Yes, there will always be some things that we need to print out and keep in a file, like a contract or warranty. But in this day and age, it’s much easier to reduce the amount of paper waste you have by offering up digital PDFs.

Many books now days are being offered in digital format rather than print, you can embrace this idea in your own marketing by offering digital brochures, magazines, and eBooks, and you may be surprised that if you offer a choice between digital and print, that many of your clients will chose digital, because they can see it anytime on any of their mobile devices or on their desktop computer.

Going digital for as many of your marketing pieces and internal publications as possible not only makes you more sustainable (i.e. no trees died for this digital brochure) but it also saves you money and makes life easier. Because when you have a digital file system in a “cloud” all employees can access the same updated information at the same time, meaning no one is pulling an old outdated sales sheet from their filing cabinet. One excellent online resource that we use and you may want to check out is Evernote.

ELM Photo: Our sustainable friends in Orlando FL send a beautiful pix of their green leaves.

5. Bring some GREEN into your environment. 

There is always that one fellow co-worker whose office or cubical looks like a Brazilian rainforest, but they aren’t just quirky, they are actually doing their workplace a sustainable favor.

Did you know that plants can improve your health because they release roughly 97% of the water they take in? Studies at the Agricultural University of Norway document that using plants in interior spaces, hospital rooms, hospitals and homes decreases the incidence of dry skin, colds, sore throats and dry coughs.

Focus and productivity can also improve just by having real plants around the office. In a study done by Dr. Virginia Lohr of Washington State University, common house plants were used to measure stress levels in employees at workstations. Participants working in an environment with plants present were 12% more productive and less stressed than their non-plant counterparts. Maybe start a ‘Bring a Plant To Work Day’… How cool is that?!

And if you choose to plant some edibles, like strawberries, cucumbers, or tomatoes around the office, that packs even a more sustainable punch – free healthy snacks!

You can read more about the positive impact of plants in our Every Leaf Matters blog.

So, as you can see, it doesn’t take a lot to make a huge sustainable and cost saving impact on your office. Just a few changes in habits and implementing some easy projects (like painting or planting) and you can be reaping the rewards rather quickly and for years to come.

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