Last week our company’s handbook was reviewed and office policies and usage were discussed. My firm is passionate about ‘holistic sustainability’ and we operate out of a platinum-rated green building. A lot of the basics of being green are mandatorily driven such as maintaining high indoor air quality and encouraging green behavior in the workplace. Each and every one of us has an active role to play for complying with the workplace’s ‘green behavioral norms’.
Whether a person is a junior cog or the CEO, every move towards sustainable behaviour helps a firm become an eco warrior or inspire another become a catalyst for social change. Sustainable workplace practices help address huge environmental and health issues. Many could obsess about a sustainable lifestyle at home, but it is essential to carry those good habits to work too. After all, we invest a significant portion of our day in the office and generate a substantial amount of waste there. Every night, computers display screensavers to empty cubicles.
They waste twice as much power idling as they do actually working. Take a moment to shut down at the end of the day, and save thousands of watts per year. Start incorporating simple habits into daily office routines, like recycling and segregating garbage properly. They go a long way in reducing the company’s use of natural resources. Recycling bins strategically placed in an office motivates people to segregate trash correctly.
A central waste receptacle in each floor, and a small consolidation room for the segregated wastes of an entire office, make an excellent start towards holistic sustainability. Removing trash cans below the desks of individuals forces people to get up and walk periodically instead of remaining seated over long hours without any exercise. Easily accessible and well-designed waste bins actually modify social behaviour; prevents people from strewing waste around bins and programs them to segregate waste at source. People learn from each other and appreciate the unrelenting efforts of a community to be collectively sustainable. Tying up with a local recycler and tracking the different types of trash generated at work enables everyone to participate in responsible office waste management.
It may come as a surprise to many that organic waste on campuses comes mostly from fallen trees and branches. These are best composted on site instead of being added to the municipal waste. Another policy our company recently embraced is one that is getting to be popular these days. We too have adopted the ‘no plastic and no styrofoam policy’. Some companies stop employees from entering the premises if they have any plasticware with them.
Against the war on plastic this seems an effective move. We never serve water from PET bottles or use plastic ware. It is a far better green practice to switch to a jug and drink out of glasses. Other rules include a no smoking policy, a digital policy that prefers web based and virtual activities over print and reusing paper printed on one side. Whatever the scale of an office and it’s strength; every bit counts. So tweak that policy or suggest a change to make your workplace a greener place to be.
The writer is an architect, urban designer, dancer and chief designer at Shilpa Architects