Working 9 to 5 in an office is as much a part of the Americana suburban image as vintage cars, collared shirts with ties, and the family golden retriever. Unfortunately this is becoming harder for Americans to achieve these days, but for those of us who do have that opportunity, our office life takes up so much of our lives that making green choices with our daily office habits will have just as large of an impact as making changes to our home life, if not more. So here are 5 tips to make your office life just as green as your home life.
I think we can all agree that the most important part of any workday is lunch break. Luckily there are plenty of ways to make your lunch break greener. For starters, bring your lunch every day so that the eco-friendly dinners you’ve been planning can also be your eco-friendly lunches, and as always, going vegetarian or vegan will always be greener than eating meat. Use metal or glass reusable containers instead of paper (or worse, plastic) bags to carry your lunch to reduce the number of disposables in your life. Bring your own water bottle and utensils instead of relying on the plastic ones. For some reason, people always seem to forget that they have drawers full of reusable utensils at home that are super easy to throw in your lunchbox and rinse off when your done. But while we’re talking about lunch we can’t of course forget about breakfast. Use a thermos or a good old coffee mug instead of those to go cups. And personally, I’m terribly guilty of grabbing granola bars in the morning. What I probably should be doing instead is taking a bit of my Sunday to bake something like these egg muffins and freeze them for those quick rush-out-the-door breakfasts during the week.
Getting to work is also a pretty easy to get greener. Did you know that the average American spends twenty-six minutes commuting to work daily, one way, and that number is going up? Hopefully we as a society can figure out some way to shorten our commute times instead of lengthening it, but in the meantime we can do some things to make out personal commutes less impactful on the environment. Biking is of course probably the most environmentally friendly way to commute, as well as a great way to use your commute as part of your daily exercise routine. The US is looking towards modelling the successes of countries like The Netherlands by introducing more bike sharing programs and initiatives. Oddly, the US seems to have a unique problem with women bikers, but there are even programs to help with that. Outside of biking, public transportation and carpooling are the two other major ways to green up your commute. While talking to your local politician is probably the only real way to increase your access to public transportation, in the meantime you can coordinate a few friends to help carpool or join a carpooling company or initiative
Sustainable Work Attire
Eco-fashion and sustainable fashion are growing trends in society, but one thing holding it back is the connotation of it. When the population at large thinks about green initiatives, we still tend to think about bohemian types and hippies. While this may be fine connotations for a fun summer dress or a goofy weekender bag, those looks won’t be good for serious business mode. But going formal doesn’t have to mean bowing to the whims of fast fashion, as there are plenty of work-ready options for people looking to stay eco-friendly. High quality vintage suits will most likely be made of better material than the newer options, and at a lower price range. If vintage still doesn’t suit you, you can always opt for some more sustainably made new clothing. And combine the best of both worlds with an upcycled briefcase to complete the interview-ready, presentation giving, or CEO meeting outfit without sacrifice the planet on the way.
The Good Old Office Plant
One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to go green is to literally make your office a little greener. While undoubtedly a delightful addition to any desk, houseplants are famous for their ability to purify the air around you. Reducing CO2, getting rid of harsh chemicals, and adding more oxygen to your work environment are always good things. Now, this might not be the world’s biggest environmental initiative, but there are plenty of other benefits to getting an office plant. Plants reduce noise, reduce anxiety, and improve your overall productivity, so it makes for a fantastic addition to any workplace. Snake plants are a great recommendation for office environments as they are particularly effective at boosting air quality and overall being healthy while also being rather easy to maintain.
Get Energy Savvy
Finally, getting eco friendly with the office electronics is another great way to reduce your environmental impact. Replace the light on you desk lamp with a low energy light bulb to start out with. Laptops use considerably less energy than desktops, so if you haven’t made the switch yet then this is as good of an excuse as any. Plugged in electronics still use up electricity so remember to unplug them when you’re done. Better yet, get a power strip and unplug all of your electronics at once. If you have an office with a window, keep the windows open for as long as possible to make use of that natural lighting and heating source in the sky. And keep the thermostat a little lower in winter months and cooler in summer. There are quite a lot of temperatures that are in that comfortable range with the right wardrobe; no need to blast the heat and the AC.
Now of course, all five suggestions listed here are thing you can change personally. There are of course things that your workplace can do to make the workplace greener, so if you liked this article stay tuned to our Facebook, Instagram, and Journal Page for that article coming soon. In the meantime, carry on being green!