Some business leaders install those big blue recycling bins in the office and then sit back and smile as they type up a press release about how sustainable their office is. “Corporation ABC encourages some employees to throw a bit of paper into a plastic bin and have now saved all of humankind – buy from us!” 

I only kid – because I recognize that any progress is good progress, but I think that businesses can sometimes overlook some really simple and FREE ways to green up their office. Here are four:

1. Bring in that fern you impulse bought

If you’re like me, it’s sometimes hard to resist adopting a forest of plants even though I live in a one bedroom apartment. Plants aren’t only a way to boost morale because let’s face it – they are just darn cute. They are also proven to improve air quality, reduce stress, lower background noise, and even keep air temperatures down!

2. Program your lights to wave hi and bye

Many commercial lighting systems have motion detection sensors which you can program to turn on and off depending on if someone is actually in the room or not. This small change can save a TON of energy (and money). Plus, it always makes me feel so powerful and supernatural when I enter a room and the lights automatically greet me as if to say “The all powerful one is here! Shine on her!”

P.S. If you don’t have a motion detector, you can always make changes like turning off lights in rooms with natural light

3. Tell John to Stop Printing his Emails Out

We all know a John – the guy in the office who prints out literally every email, meeting agenda, picture of his lunch, etc. Be sure and make an announcement to the office to only print things when absolutely necessary (this should also save on ink costs). Also, take this opportunity to educate your team about recycling — while it is important, a lot of it can still be diverted to the landfill. We used to export a lot of our recycling, but since China announced it will no longer import foreign waste, some places are forced to divert the recycling material to landfills anyway. This is especially true if the recycling load is considered “contaminated” by containing materials that cannot be recycled like plastic trash bags.

To learn more about what you can and cannot recycle, visit the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

4.  Start a Green Team

You can call it a green team, the planet protectors, the green beans – whatever. This team is essentially a group of members you’ve gathered to spearhead proactive environmental action in the business. This can be something as simple as rewarding employees who carpool with an extra vacation day, or even organizing an annual Earth Day volunteering. If done right, it will boost moral and even create great PR for your business.

Being eco has a bad rep of being expensive, confusing, overwhelming, or all of the above. Small changes like this will not only make a positive impact on the Earth, but can have ripple effects outside the office that make more of a change than you ever thought possible.

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