How to make your office eco-friendly (and 100 per cent guilt-free)

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  • With a return to face-to-face work pending, be it flexibly or full-time, it's time to turn our attention to creating an eco-friendly office space

    It feels like a lifetime ago we were all spending (way too many) hours in the office. But with a return to face-to-face work pending, be it flexibly or full-time, it’s time to turn our attention to creating an eco-friendly office.

    Because the future of our planet is still at risk to climate-crisis related tragedies – we’ve recently learned the polar bear population could be wiped out due to rising global temperatures, and let’s not forget the shocking bushfires in Australia in January.

    Here, Friends of the Earth campaigner Muna Suleiman shares her tips on how to totally take your office from a cluttered crisis to a plastic-free paradise…

    1. Waste not

    Purchase your office supplies from green, ethical and local companies such as Paper Round. This recycling expert brings used resources back to life. Think chic stationary products from printer paper to pens and office chairs.

    1. (eco)-friendly feasting

    Bringing your own lunch in is a no-brainer when it comes to being purse-friendly. It also means you aren’t supporting buying plastic and cardboard packaging from high-street chains and supermarkets. Double win.

    If you have a canteen, enquire as the whether the caterers can encourage more veggie or vegan dishes on the menu. And introduce a ‘meat-free Monday’, for example. Even better, explain why these dishes are being served on a notice board. Understanding aids acceptance and willingness to change.

    eco-friendly office

    If you have a canteen, enquire as the whether the caterers can encourage more veggie or vegan dishes on the menu (Unsplash)

    1. Have a (heated) discussion over the phone

    Invest in excellent video conferencing technology, to reduce the need for business travel. If you need a refresh, environmental impact of aviation occurs because plane engines emit heat, noise and gases (such as carbon dioxide) which contribute to climate change. Oh, and video calls are cheaper, too!

    1. Root of the issue

    If there is opportunity to plant trees around or nearby your office, this not only improves the quality of air you breathe but it is also proven to increase your mental wellbeing. It’s also seriously worth investing in a plant desk, to suck out the carbon pollutants from the atmosphere. According to Friends of the Earth, the best indoor plants for healthy air include the rubber plant, Chinese Evergreen, Peace Lily, Boston Fern and bamboo palm.


    eco-friendly office

    Keep a Boston fern away from indirect light and it will thank you by getting rid of formaldehyde in the air (Getty Images)

    1. Wheely awesome travel alternatives

    Transport is the biggest contributor to carbon emissions in the UK, so really try to either walk, cycle, run or use public transport to arrive to the office. Or, if you need to use a car to get into work, can you carpool? Every little helps. P.S. It can be worth asking your employer to create a scheme to reward employees who go to the effort of reducing their carbon footprint.

    1. Take notice of the notice board 

    Put stats up around the office to shock colleagues into action. For example, ‘by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish’. You can also send supportive messages (as well as scary stats) on shared platforms to get colleagues communicating.

    1. Get a group together

    Speak to your colleagues and find like-minded people around you who want to make a difference in the work place. As a self-care act, it shows that you are not alone, but it also shows senior leadership that you want change.

    1. Get excited over being energy efficient  

    Every office uses energy, so can you apply pressure to the management team to switch to a green energy supplier? Moving away from fossil fuels is a must. If this is a little too ambitious, control yourself: turn off your computer monitor when not in use and only boil water in the kettle that you need, so as not to waste energy.

    1. Did someone say strike?

    To show that your office and its employees are aware of what is happening in the outside world, if a peaceful protest is happening in your area regarding climate change, ask your boss if the company has close the office for the day to allow you all to take to the streets. Power in numbers puts pressure on the government for real change.

    1.  Planet-happy bathroom products 

    When it comes to bathroom and hygiene products, single-use plastic containers are rife. Instead of purchasing individual soaps each time, buy in bulk. This is a great way to ease your plastic consumption, as not only does it cut the total amount of plastic you consume, it also reduces the carbon footprint of shipping the products. And don’t forget about using hand dryers over paper towels, and requesting recycled paper loo roll.

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