Climate change and sustainability are big issues, so much so it can sometimes feel that it’s hard to make a difference in a meaningful way. However, it’s quite easy to make small, considered changes that will have a big impact on the environment, and a great place to start is where we spend most of our time – at work.
While you may already be doing a number of environmentally friendly things like turning computers off overnight, keeping air con use to a minimum and recycling paper, another area where you can make an impact is in the things you use around the office.
Environmentally friendly products are those deemed to cause minimal harm to the planet, either in their production or their disposal. The great thing is it’s easy to spot them as most “kind to the environment” products are clearly labelled.
The great thing is many suppliers in the office supplies industry are now demonstrating innovation and investment in environmentally friendly products, thereby contributing to a more sustainable future by producing items that are reducing the harm we do to the planet.
Here are some of the common items around the workplace that have eco-conscious versions that will help you be kinder to the environment:
The range of environmentally friendly paper and notebooks that are made from recycled and/or recyclable materials has grown considerably.
Some will be made simply with recycled paper and others are made completely from post-consumer recycled waste, so it’s important to do a little research on your product before purchasing.
Always remember to check that the entire notebook is recyclable as the different components might need to go into different recycling bins.
Many pens are now also environmentally friendly with some made from recycled bottles – a huge environmental win when you consider the plastic wastage that occurs in our society today.
Other ways producers are making their pens environmentally friendly is to use pre-consumer recycled waste. This is when the by-products of manufacturing are recycled before reaching the consumer and are used to create different products, helping to reduce wastage.
Carbon neutral products
Carbon neutrality refers to a product achieving zero carbon emissions during production, or by the supplier purchasing enough carbon credits to offset the emissions.
Purchasing carbon neutral products reduces yours, and your business’ carbon footprint which is good for everybody.
Coffee is the second largest commodity after oil, and a great way to make a real difference to the environment is by providing employees with carbon neutral, organic or fair trade coffee.
Disposable coffee cups are also a big concern when it comes to environmental impact. The total amount of paper landfilled in Australia each year is 1.7 million tonnes, of which coffee cups account for 12,000 tonnes.
If you must supply disposable cups in the office, it’s best to provide a cup (and lid) that is recyclable and commercially compostable.
For a truly eco-friendly solution, provide real, reusable mugs or encourage staff to bring their own from home.
Biodegradable products avoid pollution by being able to be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms, and they are also essential to a sustainable future.
While you may be buying these products for the home, it’s a good idea to start using them at work too.
There is a wide range of biodegradable products on the market, including cleaning products, coffee pods, bubble wrap, bin liners, the list goes on and on. There is no reason to be stocking your office with products that will just sit in landfill.
Many of us are environmentally conscious at home and since we spend a considerable amount of time at work, it makes sense to have these same habits in the office.
By just changing even a few behaviours and considering the different items you use around the office, it’s possible to have a real impact on having a sustainable future.
Belinda Lyone is the general manager of office products supplier COS.