We should all be doing our bit to reduce our impact on the environment. It is an inconvenient truth that all food businesses are contributing to carbon emissions and our use of water in production processes puts further pressure on this scarce resource.
As an employer, you can use these ideas to mobilise your employees to play their part too. They might even help you save some money.
Encourage all employees to shut down their computers and turn off lights in their offices at the end of every day. Install energy-saving CFL light bulbs and sensors in common areas like meeting and break rooms so that energy is not consumed when no one is in them. Powering down copiers, printers and scanners also helps businesses conserve energy and drastically reduce energy costs. Look at alternative energy options - can you use solar powered geyser for certain process, staff ablutions? What about solar powered lights? Or even using natural light alternatives such as changing to clear IBR sheeting.
Recycling used paper is perhaps the most common green initiative utilized by businesses. Paper recycling diverts waste away from landfills and spares the destruction of trees for paper production. More importantly, a paper recycling programme can also prompt employees to make note of their paper use and reduce the number of copies they make everyday, saving the company supplies and money while benefiting the environment. Better still look at going paperless if possible with the correct back-ups and security systems. At least look at your printer and copier settings for the most environmentally friendly ones – while you are at it change to a smaller font too.
Recycling initiatives can be extended to other areas such as ink and toner cartridges, glass, cans, plastic, cooking oil, gearbox oil and electronic appliances. Invest in colour coded bins and invite employees to bring along their items too. You can also contribute to job creation. In addition to recycling everything that can be recycled, think green when buying or replacing items. Consider purchasing used or vintage office furniture instead of brand new pieces.
Encourage lift schemes and carpool programmes amongst your staff, as well as use of public transportation. Initiate a monthly rewards programme for the employee who bests utilizes green transportation methods and reward her with a special plaque or free lunch. Carpools not only benefit the environment but can also spark a greater sense of camaraderie and teamwork throughout the office.
"Green Up" days are also terrific environmentally friendly activities for businesses. Designate one calendar day a year for your staff to spend a paid day outside of the office and in the surrounding community picking up litter, planting trees or holding a recycling drive. A day outside the office can boost company morale, aid to your company's green image and benefit your community and the environment.
This type of recycled product has all the integrity and quality of a first-use paper source, with none of the oxygen depleting, forest destroying downsides. Toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, receipt paper and more. Better yet, transition as much of your business away from paper as possible. Screen-based menus, glass cups, and other options can help you reduce your impact even more.
There are a range of more eco-friendly cleaning options out there. Check out the true status of these products, not just the sales pitch. You may have to validate the effectiveness of these cleaning chemicals to ensure they give you acceptable levels of microbiological cleanliness on your swabs before you go ahead and make a large scale purchase.
Food waste is a huge issue for a number of reasons, all of them bummers. There’s no reason to make food waste an issue on both sides of the consumer equation. Any business can get into composting, but it’s especially encouraging to see a growing number of food serving businesses recognize the growing importance of composting as a method for reducing waste. Again, this can be an opportunity to assist the local community by growing vegetables for a good cause. While you are at it, install a rain water harvesting system to irrigate your veggie garden.
Whether it’s the kettle of the microwave or an air conditioner, choose a greener options when it’s time to replace. They may be most costly upfront but should pay off in energy savings.
No, you don't have to ask employees to "hold it." Reduce the amount of water used per toilet flush by putting a 2litre bottle filled with water in the tank (don't use bricks, they leave sediment). If you are replacing toilets, look for low-flush models, or ones with a half-flush option. Toilet flushing is the largest water consumer in office buildings.
Make sure you check your entire facility for leaks and fix them. Install rain water harvesting tanks use this water to keep you garden going, wash the bosses’ car and wash down paving. Lush green lawns require a lot of water so consider planting native landscapes or other less water-intensive alternatives. Install low pressure cleaning equipment and look critically at water usage in cleaning programmes. Look at water recycling technology for effluent streams.
Any more ideas – we want to hear from you!