You may be under the impression that an environmentally friendly office starts from the top down, with the company bigwigs initiating protocols for large-scale “greening” and everyone else following suit. While this certainly helps, sometimes it’s company employees and day-to-day office workers who need to take the initiative. And you’d be surprised to see how much of a change you can make all on your own, or with a few select office allies who can help spread the good vibes.
Here are some easy ways to make your office space more eco-friendly — drastically improve the health of your working quarters while significantly reducing the footprint of your company.
Do: Get office-friendly plants
In addition to actually making your office space look green, plants can do so much more. They absorb indoor air pollution, which can often be higher than you’d expect in offices where the air duct system isn’t regularly cleaned, and significantly increase the flow of fresh oxygen into your workspace. They can even help to stave off a condition called “Sick Building Syndrome,” where synthetic office decor, carpets and furniture can off-gas into the office environment and cause colds, eye infections, viruses and allergies. What’s more, plants have a calming effect on people, and can help to reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace.
Don’t: Go overboard on office plants
It’s one thing to install a couple of carefully-selected office plants around your cubicle or desk, but it’s another thing entirely to go overboard and let your plants take over the office. Keep it clean and simple, using plants that look tidy, don’t drop their leaves everywhere, and won’t get soil all over your office furniture. Choose low-maintenance plants that don’t require much attention, water or sunlight. Office managers like things to be neat and tidy, and they’ll be quick to banish your first green initiative if it doesn’t meet these requirements.
Do: Bring your own lunch to work
Making your lunch and bringing it to work in reusable containers is far more sustainable, and a whole lot easier on your wallet than eating out every day. You’ll create less waste, make healthier meals, and can use the extra time to get outside and eat your lunch somewhere nice, to take a break from the sterile office environment. If your office has a cafeteria or kitchen, ask whoever manages it if they can serve meals on reusable plates, bowls and utensils, rather than wasteful one-use-only utensils and dishes. If the manager kicks up a stink about this, feel free to involve your boss or office manager to put the pressure on, as companies are usually very supportive of green initiatives like this.
Don’t: Bring lunch that will stink out the office
While it’s a great idea to make your own food and bring it along for lunch and snacks, it’s not such a good idea to use ingredients that will permeate the office with noxious fumes. Classic examples are seafood, boiled eggs, tuna, cold roast chicken and beans. There are things you can do to reduce the sensory overload of these foods, such as squeezing some lemon on your seafood, but in general a strong-smelling food is a surefire way to annoy colleagues and stop your office greening in its tracks.
Do: Organize a CSA for your office
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a farm share-style cooperative that provides weekly deliveries of local produce direct to the office. This can include seasonal organic fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk and cheese, straight from a local farm.
This kind of office perk is usually a huge hit, as it introduces fresh, healthy, interesting new produce directly to company employees. Furthermore, it helps to encourage a green mindset within the office, forming mental links between the minds of your colleagues and the natural world around them.
Don’t: Demand a total green office overhaul
The best way to introduce green initiatives into the workplace is gently and politely. If you come on too strong, marching into your boss’s office and demanding an office-wide greening initiative with no holds barred, you’re bound to get under their skin and make an anti-green enemy of them. Ask nicely, suggest ways in which the office can benefit from your green ideas, and make some cheesy presentations if you have to — you’re far more likely to win people over that way than by turning into the Hulk (who, incidentally, is green) and making loud demands for change.
Greened up your workspace but still feeling stressed out in the office? Try these three instant workplace stress relievers.
Liivi is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and is training to become a doula. She inspires women to find peace and personal power by taking control of health and fertility naturally. Liivi‘s passion is ancestral nutrition and primal lifestyle design. She and her partner Will live between Toronto, Canada and Queenstown, New Zealand.