7 einfache Ideen für mehr Nachhaltigkeit im Office

7 simple ideas for more sustainability in the office

Sustainability is a big topic in many areas of our lives these days – fortunately! Whether at the bakery around the corner, your favorite bar or even on the train: More and more companies are upgrading and taking big steps towards a more sustainable future. But something is also happening in Germany's offices. Employees in the area of ​​sustainability can be found in many companies today to promote commitment in the relevant areas and to find new approaches.

Just having the houseplant from the hardware store around the corner in the office does not make an office sustainable. A bit of orientation towards everyday habits can make a difference.

We'll show you how you can make a small contribution to environmental protection in your everyday work and how you can make your office greener in no time at all with just a few simple steps. So much in advance: Plants are not the beginning, but the cherry on top!

What exactly does "sustainability in the office" mean?

Sustainability is not a term that can be defined in two sentences. As in private everyday life, the same applies to the office: every product used and every process can be optimized to conserve resources. In the long term, processes can often become even more efficient and in turn save money. ideas for more Sustainability in the hotel or in the bar , we have summarized in previous posts. Applied to everyday office life, this means constantly questioning the use of printers, coffee machines, but also disposable towels in the bathroom and looking for solutions. For this it is inevitable to create an awareness of the (ecological) expenses, possibly to break new ground and finally to sensitize the entire team to the topic. So, insight is the first step to improvement. Once sustainability has been started, it can then be transferred from the office to the other departments of the company.

In order to make everyday work a little more sustainable, the way to the office and a bit of mindfulness during the lunch break can change something - sustainability in the office starts with each individual, but only works as a team.

1. Save energy in the office

Lunch break and everyone leaves the office? Best time to save energy! "The last one turns off the light.", our grandparents already knew, and the computers can also be safely put into sleep mode. The energy saving mode is also better than when the computer is switched on completely, but in the end it only saves about 50% of the energy. Today there are also some ways to shut down multiple devices at once, such as the good old timer. Depending on everyday office life and work organization, there are various alternatives that keep your CO2 consumption within limits, even despite forgetful colleagues.

Our tip: Put a sign on the door and ask the last person to double check that all devices are switched off and, if possible, that all plugs are unplugged. Of course, the same also applies to the light in the office and corridors: switch off when not in use! Even energy-saving lamps are useless if they are on in rooms that are not being used. You can also use motion detectors to remedy this.

If you have air conditioning in the office, it should of course also be switched off after work. You are more economical here with a fan or shutters on the windows. This also includes ventilation and heating. Brief airing with the heating turned off ensures fresh air and a healthy room climate. On the subject of energy: It is best to look for a provider of green electricity who obtains its energy locally from renewable sources in order to be as environmentally friendly as possible on the road.

Energy-saving lamp hangs from the ceiling

2. Set up the office sustainably

Sustainability can already begin with the furnishing: the materials used in everyday office life in particular offer some scope for environmental protection. Certified products, ideally made from recycled materials, make the office greener in no time. A simple step can be taken here, for example, with refillable pens, which do not go straight into the trash after a short period of use. Also very easy to replace with:

  • Envelopes without windows
  • the recycled paper variant
  • Instead of the capsule machine for hot drinks, invest in a good coffee machine and in fair trade beans

These things not only make your office more sustainable, but the drinks also taste twice as good when enjoyed with a clear conscience. By the way, all tea drinkers should only fill the kettle as much as absolutely necessary. Investing in a stylish thermos flask for the whole office can save electricity and thus money once again.

When it comes to televisions and laptops in our own four walls, we don't want the biggest power guzzlers, so why in the office? So check your (purchased) devices and the next new purchase from the energy efficiency. This is indicated by certain markings such as the Energy Star label. Also make sure that the energy-saving mode is activated on all devices during short work breaks, if this is possible. So you not only decimate the consumption, but you can also easily save money here.

Green fingers, ahoy! Last but not least, plants make your office greener. They also clean and humidify the air and create a pleasant working atmosphere. In addition, a green window sill that is tended together can also be a great team-building measure that everyone is happy to take part in.

3. Reduce waste and separate properly

For all furnishings, including electrical devices, the following applies before you think about disposal: reduce or recycle. Can the old desk still have its own corner for the intern or can the disused monitor still be donated sustainably? Give your facility a second life and save resources from production and disposal. If in doubt, respect the correct and unavoidable (!) Disposal of old electronic devices at the appropriate acceptance points.

Avoiding waste should of course have a high priority in everyday office life anyway. However, the wastepaper basket does not have to be overflowing with many misprints, but you can also save quite a bit on orders, for example. Try to avoid individual orders as much as possible and prefer to collect requests and necessities for purchases by the end of a specified period. If possible, order from a retailer. So you not only have less packaging waste, but also reduce emissions during transport. Ultimately, of course, you also have less effort.

Proper waste separation should not be neglected in the office either. In any case, rule no. 1 is: It can only be separated if there is something to separate. So at least three containers for packaging, paper and residual waste should be available. After all, you not only ensure that the valuable resources can continue to be used in the best possible way, you also get an overview of the waste that still has potential for savings in your office. Inspirations on how you can save unnecessary packaging waste, you can find here .

Recycle bin with paper balls in the office

4. Avoid trash at lunch

As already mentioned, sustainability is always something that happens in a team. Therefore, talk to your employees about the topic and encourage them to do their part! The lunch break and the catering in between can easily become a lot greener. A small supply of lunch and lunch boxes in the office kitchen can with the ToGo order work wonders during the break. Stainless steel cans are particularly suitable here, but preserving jars collected from the last joint after-work can also be put to good use. Of course, employees can also bring their prepared snacks and dishes in sustainable cans.

Fresh regional and seasonal ingredients also make the environmentally conscious lunch a whole lot healthier. Incidentally, bottles made of glass or stainless steel on the desk are not only sustainable, they also tempt you to give your body a portion of liquid from time to time.

Drinking together can also be good for the environment: providing tap water in glass carafes for employees not only saves you delivery trips and costs, but also avoids wasting resources. If you want soft drinks, you can use glass bottles again.

If you have a shared fridge, then simply set up a compartment for things that are left over, that someone didn’t like or that are close to the expiry date – at least one colleague will be happy and you’ll banish food waste completely easily out of your everyday work!

5. Protect the environment when driving and on business trips

A point that is as simple as it is important: When commuting from A to B, the environment can be protected very easily and not necessarily inconveniently, the same applies to important meetings. Is driving the car really unavoidable in the morning, or could cycling or public transport also be an alternative? Of course, cycling is a lot better for your health (and your nerves in traffic jams) and you can still relax and catch up on breakfast or check the most important news on public transport. Alternatively, you can also inspire your employees to travel the distance together in a vehicle as a carpool. After all, all the options also save money and you often gain valuable time.

In the case of business trips, the necessity should be questioned before the appointment. Does it really have to be a flight to the other end of the world or even a long-distance drive? At least since Corona, our companies have known that video calls can also replace such trips. The most sustainable out-of-home meeting is of course the one that doesn't exist. If a direct appointment is essential, then it is better to book your employees a (distant) train trip before you search the flight portals on the web. Another double advantage: there are no high prices for trips and flights booked at short notice.

If you are on a business trip overnight, you can look out for sustainable hotels. You can get tips on how to find them and what environmentally friendly offers there are for the hotel industry read here .

Bicycle on the road at sunrise

7. Save resources when printing

The question of whether something really needs to be printed should precede every print job. Of course there are documents that are needed in black and white. But these are mostly manageable and often in offices the principle "Oh, one more or one less" is used. So, check beforehand more often whether storage on the computer in cloud systems is not sufficient for further work, because contracts can already be signed digitally today.

When printing, please do it right: Modern devices can be set to print on both sides, so that less paper has to be used. Speaking of which, sustainable (recycled) variants should also be used here, just like with printer cartridges. Refilling can also eliminate a lot of unnecessary packaging waste.

Incidentally, printers that only print should be a thing of the past in every sustainable office. Multifunction devices that can also scan and copy documents save a lot of electricity. Also: If your colleagues see that the line in front of the device is a little longer again, one or the other might think twice about whether they really want to print at the moment. As already indicated, misprints should not go straight into the wastepaper basket, but rather be collected in a pile and used for sketches, notes and spontaneous brainstorming.

How quickly can everyday office life become more sustainable?

Pretty fast, joint brainstorming brings the solution! The best way to go green in the office is with everyone, so tackle the topic as a team: sit down and think about where resources can be conserved in the future and expenses saved in the long term. You will see that the starting points are numerous. Here it is important not to let yourself be disturbed, but to bring more green into the office step by step. A more sustainable cooperation and more satisfaction can also be yours New work approaches bring. With a few hints in the appropriate places, you keep reminding your employees to put the ideas into practice - perseverance and good will are your companions on the way towards an ecological office from today! The probability that a bit of the sustainability wave will also spill over into other areas of your employees' lives is more than high.

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