Easy & Affordable Ways to Reduce your Organization’s Environmental Footprint

Julie Checknita, Employer Services | November-03-11


Environmental Footprint


An increasing number of organizations in all sectors are beginning to incorporate sustainability practices into their workplaces. Motivations for going green range from identifying a link between these efforts and their bottom line, to seeing it as their moral responsibility. Regardless of the reason, incorporating sustainability in the workplace is an effort that is here to stay.

As organizations focused on environmental initiatives, we should all have great internal sustainability practices... right? Unfortunately, this common assumption isn’t always true. How well does your organization’s internal sustainability initiatives measure up?

If your organization has room for improvement, and is looking for affordable, easy ways to start being more sustainable, why not simply start by adjusting some of your everyday work habits to decrease your organization’s environmental footprint.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s some of the top ways to green your workplace:

  1. Turn off computers and printers at the end of the day
  2. Create a recycling and composting program for your office
  3. Purchase energy efficient equipment (I.e. LCD screens and Energy Star appliances)
  4. Send out digital handouts for meetings
  5. Encourage the use of mass email rather than printing individual letters when possible
  6. Use double-sided printing for internal documents
  7. Reuse used binders and filing systems
  8. Research suppliers who will take back packaging for reuse
  9. Eliminate paper towels in the bathroom and kitchen, or opt to buy paper towels made of partially recycled materials
  10. Buy recycled toner cartridges for the printer, and the lower contrast settings
  11. Plan or participate in a carpool/ bike/ walk to work competition, and request bike rack installations if there are none
  12. Install a water cooler, and encourage the use of reusable mugs
  13. Buy recycled paper
  14. Reuse envelopes to send internal mail
  15. Encourage your office to buy silverware, plates, cups etc to reduce paper waste
  16. Bring in a minimal or waste free lunch by using reusable containers rather than foil and plastic bags or wrap
  17. Develop a scrap paper tray for others to use as rough notes or drafts
  18. Turn off lights at the end of the day, or in rooms not in use during office hours

Curious about what other organizations are doing?

Rescan Environmental Services now serves organic teas and Fair Trade-certified coffee, and uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper in printers and copiers as well as ensuring that new office furniture purchases are made with FSC-certified wood products

IKEA Canada regularly conducts environmental audits to ensure its stores continue to maintain and improve their internal efforts to recycle, reduce waste and save energy -- and has in-store environmental committees that meet regularly and work to ensure that their store is living-up to its audit standards and goals

Enbridge Inc. recently formed an employee-led Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Employee Advisory Council that consists of 30 employees from across the company who advise on a range of economic, social and environmental issues

Stantec actively promotes alternative transportation at various locations across the company, including transit subsidies, secure bicycle lock-up and showers (with a self-serve bike repair centre in Edmonton), carpooling programs, partnering with shared vehicle services for those employees who leave their car at home, and even sponsors its own "Cool Commute Challenge" that runs over four weeks in June with over 100 offices and 1,500 employees electing to bike, walk, take transit, carpool and even telecommute their way to work

Sylvis Environmental Services Inc. provides traveling employees access to a fleet of hybrid vehicles and the company will even provide a $1,000 contribution towards the purchase of a fuel efficient vehicle

Hydro Ottawa manages a unique Christmas seasonal light exchange program for its employees -- providing one string of energy efficient LED light strings for every two old incandescent string returned

TD Bank Financial Group has employee-led "Green Teams" and individual "Green Ambassadors" and "Green Coordinators" work to help manage corporate initiatives as well as design and implement tailored programs at locations across the country -- and recently set-up a special email address to capture environmental feedback from employees

KPMG LLP encourages employees to think about their daily actions and provide practical solutions through the "Think First Campaign", which provides employees with practical tips to lessen their personal and the firm's environmental impacts


What does your organization do? ECO Canada would love to hear from you!