As I clicked on the mouse to open the document I was working on, I felt cold plastic under my hand. This made me look up and around. It seemed my workspace was drowning in plastic and other non-sustainable material. The screen, the keyboard, the accessories, and even the table and the chair I was sitting on made me feel guilty.
A whirlwind of thoughts began in my mind, and I felt the need to correct the situation. This started my journey into discovering how to color my workstation brown and reduce its carbon footprint.
Let me share what I found out and more. Let’s look at the damages caused by our current practices and the measures that we can take to correct them by making small little changes in our office space, slow but steady!
Switch to Eco-friendly furniture
The estimated carbon footprint of an office chair is 72 kg Co2 equivalent. Furniture requires the cutting down of trees and during its manufacturing and finishing process, dangerous chemicals like VOC (volatile organic compounds) and formaldehyde are released into the atmosphere. Furthermore, trees act as carbon sinks as they absorb carbon from the atmosphere. The trees that are cut for wood take tens of years to grow again. So, cutting trees for furniture takes a toll on the environment. We can reduce the carbon footprint of our office furniture by adopting the following practices.
• We can use furniture made of reclaimed wood, recycled plastic, and sustainable material like bamboo and cork which have a very low carbon footprint for our office.
• We should adopt the practice of repurposing old furniture.
• We can buy and use second-hand furniture for the office. It has virtually no carbon footprint as it already exists, and no new trees need to be cut down for its manufacture.
Always research and buy Ecofriendly computer and accessories
Computers contribute to carbon emissions during the process of their manufacture and also through electricity consumption during usage. The components of a laptop may contain mercury, lead, chromium, and other heavy metals. If these end up in landfills instead of recycling centers, they could contaminate groundwater and soil around the landfill. The following points need to be kept in mind while getting a computer for our workstation.
• Look for EPEAT (electronic product environmental assessment tool) rating while buying computers and other electronics. This is a global environmental rating system that will help you evaluate the product’s environmental impact.
• Innovative Bamboo keyboard and bamboo mouse can replace the conventional plastic keyboard and mouse. These are robust, sustainable, and biodegradable and add a unique green dimension to the workstation.
• Mousepads made of 100% recycled material and laptop covers made of bamboo instead of plastics can be used.
• Refurbishing old appliances increases the lifecycle of already existing products and reduces the carbon footprint of manufacturing.
• You should dispose of your electronics responsibly. They should not be tossed in trash but recycled.
Try and minimize the use of Printers and cartridges
Traditionally printing uses petroleum-based inks and chlorine-based bleaches. When these printed papers are thrown away these toxic elements leach into the soil, water, and air and cause damage to the environment. We should adopt the following practices to reduce the harmful environmental impact of printing.
• Print only when necessary. And on both sides. Use draft printing mode whenever possible and use a smaller font to save reams of paper each week
• Buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridge. They cost less and also save 2.5 pounds of metal and plastics and half a gallon of oil used in manufacturing anew.
• Use eco-friendly printers which use vegetable or soy-based ink instead of toxic petroleum-based ink
• Consider using one machine that can handle multiple jobs like copying, scanning, faxing, and printing. Fewer office machines will help reduce the carbon footprint.
• Buy second-hand, this will help reduce the carbon footprint of manufacturing.
• Always recycle printer cartridges, paper, and other printer accessories.
Always buy Environment-friendly supplies
We should always look for sustainability and eco-friendliness while looking for office supplies. Keep the following points in mind while choosing office supplies.
• Always use Recycled paper or paper made from sustainable material like bamboo, hemp, or organic cotton. Also, look for the compostable option for paper while procuring it
• Use eco-friendly pens made of renewable and biodegradable material. Avoid one-time use pens instead use refillable pens.
• Always use recycled pencils. Forest the size of 90 tennis courts is cut down every minute to obtain wood for pencils. This can be avoided by using recycled pencils.
• Use biodegradable packaging and tape. This is light and environment friendly.
• Use a staple-free stapler. This is a unique innovation that uses paper itself to stitch paper together.
• Folders made of recycled paper or bamboo must be used instead of plastic
• Bamboo waste bins and containers can replace plastic for holding paper and stationery.
• Always share the resources and use them maximally.
It is said that” The greenest paper is no paper at all”. Turning a single tree into 17 reams of paper results in 50 kg of CO2 being released into the air. Cutting office paper by just 10 percent reduces its greenhouse gas emission by 1.45 million metric tons. We can save paper in the office by going digital. Instead of printing out an agenda, we can incorporate it in a slide show or email. We can reduce paper usage further by posting employee manuals online instead of printing copies.
Promote 5 ‘R’s
• We should discourage the practice of use and throw and promote the culture of 5Rs (reduce, recycle, reuse, repair, and rethink) as a step forward in turning our workstation brown.
Make an effort to save power
We can adopt the following power-saving practices to make our office energy efficient.
• Use natural daylight to light up your office space. Keeping the walls of the office space light also helps in keeping it naturally bright.
• Use solar USB chargers for charging USB devices
• Use smart power strips. They cut the power supply to gadgets that are in standby mode.
• Replace conventional lighting with LED bulbs that cost less and are energy-efficient
• You should eliminate screensavers. Instead set monitors to power off after some time.
Have a mindful approach
All revolutions begin in the mind. Being mindful of our choices and degree of consumption is the first and the foremost step towards a green workstation. Just giving a small little thought before each action will reap the great benefit in the long run.
• Whenever you are making a purchase always think about how it will impact the environment. Research well, there are assessment tools available that will help you understand the environmental impact of the product.
• Try to replace all the non-renewable supplies with sustainable materials.
• It is always good to have an energy-efficient office. having a central switch to cut off all the power supply is a good idea to save energy when there is no one in the room.
• Replacing paper towels with cloth towels, using steel water bottles and tumblers and straws instead of plastic ones is a small step but reduces a lot of one-time-use waste.
• Having a small composting unit in the office to dispose of biodegradable material can be considered. These units are available easily online and are a great way to instill a sense of responsibility towards the environment as it will reinforce the segregation of waste.
Last but not least go green by keeping actual plants near your workstation. They are pleasing to the eyes, make the environment fresh and cheerful while instilling a sense of nurturing in us. They are also a constant reminder for us to pursue our green goals in keeping our workstation eco-friendly and brown from the inside out.
We recognize that for any positive impact to be sustainable, it has to be long-term and inter-generational. Organo Et School strives to create an apt learning environment that will support and empower families as well as individuals to embrace sustainable living mindsets and habits.
Organo Et School is a learning initiative set up by Organo in 2017 and has been facilitating fields visits and workshops for Schools and Interest Groups. Organo Et School has had over 25+ schools, 6000+ students and 2500+ adults participate over the last 4 years.
If you and your business are interested to know more about Sustainability, How to Apply Sustainability to your Business, please connect to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and by WhatsApp at 9154100775!