Seven ideas for a greener and more environmentally friendly office

April 10, 2024

Companies impact the environment not only through the production of products or the provision of services but also in their day-to-day office operations. Sometimes, changing just a few habits can lead to significant savings in resources and benefit the environment by reducing waste and the consumption of resources. How can we make the office more friendly to nature and the environment? Natalija Kursiša, the HR manager of this year's Lielā Talka's main sponsor, BluOr Bank, shares useful ideas that have also been tested in their company.

"Our experience shows that implementing a sustainability policy in a company helps create a favorable work environment, attract and retain talented employees, improve their well-being, and in the long term, significantly optimize costs and reduce negative environmental impact. A company can do a lot in various ways to create a more environmentally friendly office routine. What's more – employees appreciate it," says Natalija Kursiša.

1. Abandoning Disposable Dishes

Convenience and hygiene considerations, which became prevalent during the pandemic, mean that offices often use disposable dishes daily. Sometimes, disposable cups are also placed next to water dispensers. Just calculating how much waste and unnecessary resources are used for just one birthday cake in a 40-person team once is enough to reconsider this practice!

BluOr Bank has abandoned the use of disposable dishes in their daily office routine – water, coffee, or tea are poured into personal mugs. The same principle is applied during team bonding events in nature – after all, bringing a fork and your mug home to wash doesn't weigh much!

2. Drink Container Deposit for Charitable Causes

The introduction of a drink container deposit system in Latvia helps make the environment cleaner, so it's worth considering not only at home but also in the office. Moreover, the company can turn this action into a collective initiative. For example, BluOr Bank collects drink container deposits in the office and collectively recycles them to turn the proceeds into food baskets for families with children with special needs. Bank employees willingly participate in the initiative and often bring containers from larger events home to the workplace. As a result, two good deeds are done at once.

3. Even Recycled, Unused Printouts are Not Lost!

A study conducted in the US last year shows that up to 30% of printed materials remain unused by the printer! In a company with more than 200 employees, like BluOr Bank, careless printing can mean a huge consumption of paper, electricity, and natural resources. Printer ink cartridges, although refilled and recycled, contain many harmful substances. Therefore, the company purposefully implements various digital information circulation initiatives and encourages employees to use the printer thoughtfully daily. Thinking about how to reduce the consumption of paper products is considered in other ways, such as subscribing to magazines and newspapers digitally or signing and storing various documents digitally.

4. Collective Paper Recycling

Mail-delivered advertising booklets, printouts, and notepad paper, even with digitization and thoughtful printer use, mean that about 70% of the waste in the average office is paper. It's an easily recyclable material, so it's important to recycle it, especially if it helps achieve several charitable goals at once. BluOr Bank regularly takes part of its paper waste to the animal shelter “Ulubele”, where it is further recycled, thus also providing a small financial support to the shelter.

5. Preference for Items Made from Recycled Materials

Companies care for their visibility and recognition in various ways. One of them is producing promotional materials and souvenirs. Why not do it in a more environmentally friendly way? First, consider whether the recipient will really find the item useful. A refillable water bottle is definitely a better choice than a calendar with the company's logo, which a client or partner may have already received several times at the turn of the year!

BluOr Bank prefers items made from recycled materials for their promotional items – for example, T-shirts and umbrellas for the company's marathon team. Even better: it's worth considering whether additional consumption of natural resources is necessary to foster partnership relations. With this conviction, the bank's Christmas greeting to partners has been a digitally sent greeting for several years, with the planned budget for gifts donated to charity. “We have found that our partners are also happy to indirectly participate in such a charity initiative,” says Natalija Kursiša.

6. Environmentally Friendly Team Bonding Events

Fresh air and movement are great for engaging team bonding events – of course, a themed party is necessary, but a hike along the sea or in the forest, participating in Lielā Talka, or orienteering events are much more exciting and motivating activities. BluOr Bank's experience shows that the best feedback from employees is about such events spent actively in nature.

7. Water Dispensers for Collective Use

Fresh water filling stations are a great way to reduce the amount of plastic produced. BluOr Bank provides its employees with access to cold, sparkling, and hot water dispensers on every floor, from which they can refill their reusable drink bottles. Assuming that one employee drinks at least one bottle of water a day and multiplies that by 20 workdays and 200 employees, it's easy to calculate that such a company reduces waste by 4,000 plastic bottles a month!