Contributed by Bryce Ward
Earth Day 2019 has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean we should slip back into our ecologically careless ways. In reality, every day should be Earth Day, and businesses play an especially important role in minimizing our footprint. We spend about one-third of our lives at work, meaning the way we interact with the environment while at work (either directly or indirectly) constitutes a considerable portion of our environmental footprint. Due to the often communal nature of working, offices are an effective way to implement green initiatives and minimize our footprint. So, in celebration of earth, we’ve compiled a handful of easily implementable strategies that help preserve the environment while also saving you money.
- Encourage bike-commuting in your office
No, we don’t mean you should cruise in to work on your Harley – we’re talking about the good old-fashioned, self-propelled bicycle. The environmental benefits of riding a bicycle as opposed to driving your car or taking the bus are well-known and self-explanatory. The only environmental footprint cycling leaves behind comes from the extra food you have to consume to keep up with your increased metabolic rate. But this, when compared to the much more prevalent environmental consequences of motorized transportation, has a negligible impact on the environment. Green benefits aside, cycling also yields an abundance of mental and physical health benefits that make every one’s lives better. From increased well-being of employees to lower health-insurance costs, cycling has been proven itself time and time again as the optimum form of transportation.
The only downsides? Some workers live too far away from their office to realistically commute by bike; not all cycling infrastructures (bike paths, etc.) are created equal – rural areas being especially prone to having underdeveloped cycling infrastructures; less than ideal commuting weather; some workers don’t want to show up to their office drenched in sweat (understandably). Thankfully, electric, self-assisted bicycles and cycling-specific, weather-prone garments resolve most of these issues. Electric bikes do have a larger footprint than their non-electric counter-parts, but they are still considerably more eco-friendly than cars, buses, etc.
- Smart use of paper
Even though we live in an increasingly digitized world, paper remains an important part of every business’ operations. In order to ensure you’re using paper as responsibly as possible, look for green alternatives for your paper needs and recycle your documents whenever possible. One example is eco-friendly, two-way envelopes. As prevalent as emails are in the world of B2B and B2C communication, they will likely never eclipse the benefits of hand-written, tangible mail. Two-way envelopes are an effortless and effective way to reduce your ecological footprint as well as reduce the costs associated with mailing. They reduce costs for you and reduce waste for everyone – a win-win for all parties.
- Ditch the K-Cups
Coffee is a staple of almost any business. From the janitor to the CEO, coffee is the grease that keeps a business running efficiently, for good or bad. However, it is most prominent in office settings. Single-cup coffee makers can be found in nearly every office in America and have largely eclipsed the old-school drip-coffee makers. Unfortunately, single-cup brewers are also the least environmentally friendly means of producing a cup of coffee. Besides the waste from the disposable cups themselves, the packaging process required to produce the cups is in itself a more wasteful endeavor than alternative and more traditional methods. Reverting back to an office coffee pot, however, isn’t your only available option.
Bean-to-cup brewing is one way to satisfy the caffeinated needs of your office while simultaneously contributing to a smaller ecological footprint – oh yeah, and if you pick the right bean-to-cup brewer for your office size, they are more cost-effective than single-serve cups. A bean-to-cup brewer is basically a vending machine for fresh coffee, with multiple customizable options to appease the tastes of many different coffee-drinkers (an option often thought to be exclusive to k-cups). Because the beans are packaged in bulk and there’s no need for individual containers, bean-to-cup brewers are a simple way to enjoy your coffee with a more ecological peace of mine. If you can’t bring yourself to ditch single-serve cups, try purchasing eco-friendly pods, or reusable k-cups (in which you fill with the coffee of your choice).