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It seems like most people nowadays are aware of terms like “carbon footprint” and what they mean. Many offices are making efforts to go green because of the positive benefits it has for the environment, but also for the good impression that an environmentally-aware business brand leaves in the court of public opinion. Perhaps you’d like your office to be one of them. It’s a lofty goal, one which will require focus and planning to implement. However, before you can apply a green-office program, you have to know how the people in your office may be contributing to an unhealthy environment. Here are five of the most common environmentally damaging habits your office workers might have and what to do about them.

Not Using Alternative Transportation

Americans waste billions and billions of gallons of gas during their commutes each year. Each commuter spends almost 50 hours per year in the car during rush hour. If people in your office aren’t encouraged to carpool, take public transit, walk, or ride their bikes, they’re damaging the environment unnecessarily.

Creating an office program that encourages people to use alternative forms of transportation will clean up your office’s carbon footprint. Start by doing things like creating a list of people who want to carpool together and put it in your break room or kitchen. You can also give points to people who walk or ride their bikes or the bus to work. Or you can make arrangements for people to telecommute.

Being Too Generous With the Supplies

Here’s an interesting fact for you: an average business office employee can produce a pound and a half of paper waste in working for a business office daily. If you want to create a greener office, put a resource management plan in place.

The simplest way to do this is to hire a resource manager to watch the stuff in the supply cabinet or closet. Additionally, take steps like stocking reusable pens, switching to a paperless invoice system, and buying recycled paper products.

Not Turning Down The Thermostat

Verdant reminds those who want to go green that heating or cooling your office to the desired temperature of your employees when they aren’t around is expensive, unnecessary, and damaging to the environment.  Instead, consider using a thermostat that knows when the office is empty and adjusts the temperature accordingly until your employees return the next day. Not only will you improve your carbon footprint, but you’ll also save money and increase the longevity of your HVAC equipment.

Not Embracing Renewable Energy

Company bosses can invest in some renewable energy sources to cut down on their carbon footprints. This reduces the need to use power sources such as coal. And with the hottest days of summer ahead of us, renewable energy can help alleviate the strain on the local power grid while maintaining comfort in the workplace. Consider adding solar panels to the office or purchasing energy from a local windmill farm. If you choose to add solar panels there are additional questions to consider, such as what upfront costs you may face, that you probably wouldn’t need to take into account if you were simply purchasing energy from a different source. Be sure to do your due diligence and research which source is the best fit for your business.

Wasteful Lunch Choices

As odd as it might sound, what you choose to have for lunch can impact your office’s go-green plans. Doing something as simple as packing your lunch saves you money. It also saves the environment because you’re not adding to the amount of packing and waste that restaurants produce each day.

And if you make your lunch fresh, you’re not buying pre-packaged food, the wrappers for which will end up in the landfill. Fill your lunchbox with some fresh organic fruits and vegetables that you get from the local farmer’s market. Your lunch will be healthier not only for you but for the environment. Buying from local food producers means that you’re not adding to your carbon footprint by buying food that had to travel across the country on a truck to get to you.

Final Thoughts on Greener Office Spaces

Most people don’t think about the waste they produce in the office each day. They may not know that an average business office employee can produce a pound and a half of paper waste a day. Nor do they think about the way that they get to work. If you’re striving to make your office a little more environmentally friendly, you must get control of all the little ways that you and your office mates might be contributing to environmental waste. This includes paying attention to people’s commutes and to the amount of waste the people in your office produce each day.

The greenest offices have plans in place to make their offices more environmentally sound. That’s really the only way to go because programs such as these rarely succeed if they haven’t been given some serious thought ahead of time. If you take steps like hiring a resource manager or encouraging people to change their commute habits, you’re being proactive in your fight against environmental waste. The more of these programs you can implement, the greener your office will become.

References: | Here’s How Much Time Americans Waste in Traffic | 4 Powerful Reasons To Recycle Office Paper | 7 Energy Management & Saving Tips for Businesses | 10 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Energy Bills| 5 Financial Questions to Ask Before You Install Solar Panels | Bringing Your Own Lunch to School or Work is Green