The carbon footprint is an environmental indicator that measures the greenhouse gases emitted to the planet, either directly or indirectly, by an individual, organization, event or product. The main greenhouse gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxide and ozone. Their concentration in the atmosphere above normal levels is the main cause of climate change.
Therefore, all human beings must make a commitment to the environment. Therefore, our home is not the only place where we must make a difference, but in our office we can also make small changes to reduce the waste we generate and our carbon footprint.
Here are some steps we can take at the office to reduce our carbon footprint:
1. Calculate your office’s carbon footprint
Calculating the carbon footprint allows you to identify the main sources of greenhouse gas emissions. It involves collecting data on all variables of material and energy consumption and turns them into equivalent CO2 emissions. This will provide a complete and reliable emissions inventory. For this task, an ecological consultant can be hired or we can also find a carbon footprint adviser on the web. This way we will start to manage our footprint.
2. Update your office
This task can be as easy or as difficult as we want. But we can start by placing energy-saving light bulbs and assess how their use affects energy. We can also adjust both heating and cooling equipment and make sure they are working at maximum efficiency. In addition, it is also possible to set up windows that help keep the heat and cold in the office.
In the same way, we can renew and invest in office equipment such as computers, monitors, copiers, printers, scanners and faxes or even others with “Energy Star” certification that is a U.S. government-backed program that helps businesses and individuals choose products in order to protect the environment through superior energy efficiency.
3. Recycle as much as possible
Once electronic equipment and devices have reached the end of their life, make sure they are recycled. This can be done through electronic recycling companies or manufacturer take-back programs.
But we can also recycle other items such as plastic components, paper and even donate used office furniture. Likewise, another simple recommendation is to use refillable ink cartridges and toners so you don’t have to dispose of them once the ink is consumed.
4. Unplug and Turn Off everything
Even if we are not using them, if left on, electronic equipment and devices continue to consume energy and contribute to climate change. Therefore, we must make sure to unplug those that are not in use and turn off those that are not going to be used for more than an hour. We must also avoid some habits such as keeping screensavers active or leaving Wi-Fi or Bluetooth permanently on. They contribute to reduce the useful life of the battery of our equipment and consume energy unnecessarily.
Laptops are 80% more energy efficient, so we can set up power management options to save energy after a short period of inactivity or during a meeting. Before you leave, remember to unplug your devices and make sure to turn off all lights at the end of the day. Keep the lights off in spaces that are not being used.
We can also make the most of power strips by connecting several computers and simply unplugging them all in one move at the end of the day. Similarly, another way to encourage energy efficiency is to make the most of natural light during the day, as for example, by placing desks near windows.
5. Reduce your paper use
One of the simplest actions we can do in order to reduce our carbon footprint and office waste, is to control the use of paper. That is to say, print only if absolutely necessary and if so use the two-sided printing function of the printer.
If you have printed on one side only, use the back of the paper to print documents that will not be sent out of the office. This will reduce the amount of paper you use annually, along with the amount of CO2 that goes into the production of that paper.
Another way to reduce paper use is to maintain digital communications and records, whenever possible.
6. Keep trash collector around
In this sense it is important to have buckets in the office to recycle what we consume daily and keep them in accessible places. For example, near water coolers, lunch areas, at key points in corridors and around large groups of tables or cubicles. In addition, if it does not exist, it is good to promote a system for collecting this waste that is effective and not just to keep up appearances.
7. Adjust the thermostat
Adjusting the thermostat just a few degrees can mean an annual savings of 5 to 10% in heating or air conditioning. But, in addition, with this simple action we reduce our carbon footprint and air pollution.
It is recommended to use air conditioning systems only when necessary and always adjusting the thermostat between 21ºC to 23ºC in winter and 24ºC to 25ºC in summer.
8. Use alternative means of transportation
The means we use to get to the office also have a big impact on carbon production. This is how walking or cycling are the best ways to completely reduce carbon emissions. But for longer distances, public transport or carpooling also significantly reduces the vehicle’s CO2 emissions and we can even make some friends.
9. Try to work remotely
Today, for many jobs it is not necessary to fly to all meetings or drive daily to the office, because with just a computer and remote access to desks or just email and phone, the job can be done.
In addition, many office chat and video conferencing tools such as Skype, Slack and FaceTime also make it accessible and easy to work remotely. So, it is possible to create work plans to reduce travel to the office and with it the carbon footprint. But, if necessary, we can hold meetings in the office a couple of times a week. Similarly, we should only make those business trips that are really necessary.
10. Organize deliveries and errands
Be sure to coordinate deliveries and errands outside the office. Expect to collect more items that do not require rushing, so that as few trips as possible can be made. You can also arrange for your supplier to do the same. In addition, make sure items are not over-packaged and use reusable packaging if possible.
11. Eat consciously
Try to bring your lunch to the office or walk to a place near the office for lunch. But try not to drive to get your food. You can also join the initiative to stop eating meat at least one day a week to contribute to the care and conservation of our planet. You can substitute it in your diet for dishes made with vegetables. Since the livestock activity is one of the main responsible for the production of greenhouse gases.
12. Reduce the amount of bottled drinks consumed
The production and transportation of plastic water bottles and bottled beverages generate large amounts of greenhouse gases, not to mention marine pollution from plastic. Therefore, choosing to invest in an office filter or implement the use of returnable containers or drums is healthier for the planet and for people.