Sustainable tourism has many different aspects. From transport, accommodations, and travel experiences, to supporting the local economy and raising awareness among travellers. Most tour operators focus on the operation side first but forget to look internally as well. Being a sustainable tour operator also includes running a sustainable office. Practice what you preach!
Benefits of a sustainable office
Creating a sustainable office is not for the sake of the environment only. It has many benefits for your employees and business as well. A sustainable office:
- Is more comfortable to work in
- Increases employee productivity
- Has better air quality
- Uses less energy
- Produces less waste
- Supports the local economy
- Has a lower carbon footprint
- Represents a healthy workplace
How to make a more sustainable office
There are many ways to make your office more sustainable. In this article, we focus on 11 basic tips that are easy and cost-effective to implement.
11 tips for a sustainable office
- Use reusable products
- Buy sustainable and fair-trade products
- Offer local and vegetarian lunch
- Go for a paperless office
- Separate your waste
- Use environmentally friendly cleaning materials
- Turn off your equipment
- Turn off the lights
- Switch to green energy
- Grow lots of plants
- Think about sustainable mobility
1. Use reusable products
One of the easiest way to make your office more sustainable and to reduce waste is to remove all single-use (plastic) products. Start using reusable cups, plates, cutlery, straws, and bottles. And don’t allow employees to use plastic water bottles anymore. Instead, invest in reusable coffee cups and reusable water bottles with your logo for brand recognition.
2. Buy sustainable and fair-trade products
Buying sustainable and fair-trade coffee and tea helps more farmers create ethically and sustainably products. As a sustainable tour operator, it’s therefore common sense to support other sustainable businesses. Rethink your coffee and tea brands and go for local, organic and/or fair-trade options. Contribute to businesses that put people and planet first.
3. Offer local and vegetarian lunch
If you offer lunch to your employees, make sure it’s local food only! This way, you’ll support the local shops and farmers. Additionally, you also reduce on CO2 as transport is limited. Also think about offering vegetarian lunch to reduce pressure on the environment. If this is new to your business, start with one day a week!
4. Go for a paperless office
Now that more and more online software is available, the need to print and work with paper administration becomes minimal. By using less paper, you’ll reduce energy and CO2 emission, limit water and air pollution, and massively reduce your impact on nature. If you are not able to go completely paperless, make sure your paper, business cards and brochures are FSC Certified.
5. Separate your waste
Even if you exchanged all your products for reusable items and went paper free, there might be some waste left in the office. Separate your waste so it’s easier to recycle. If done right, less waste will go to the landfill, and this benefits the environment and people. Separate at least paper, plastic and glass and have it collected regularly. Focus on minimising your waste as much as possible for a cleaner planet.
6. Use environmentally friendly cleaning materials
A lot of cleaning materials contain hazardous chemicals that are unhealthy for people and the environment. By using green or natural cleaning products, you’ll reduce water, air pollution, and protect the health of your employees. Look for eco-labels and ingredients on the packaging. If they’re too expensive or not locally available, try and make them yourself!
7. Turn off your equipment
As soon as you’ll pay attention to it, you’ll notice how much equipment is still using power when not in use. Turn off printers and computers when not in use and have them activate sleep mode after 5 minutes of inactivity. Also buy energy-saving products when you have the chance, as they’re designed to run properly on less energy power.
8. Turn off the lights
Another important aspect is turning off the lights in empty rooms. Too many companies have unused meeting rooms with the lights still on. Try and make it a habit and turn off the lights when your meeting is over. It will save money on your energy bills and reduce CO2. As reminder for your staff, you can put up reminders.
9. Switch to green energy
The main benefit of switching to green energy is that it doesn’t produce CO2 emissions from fossil fuels or pollutes the air. By using green energy, you can quickly reduce your carbon footprint. Renewable energy sources are better for the environment and produce much less pollution. Examples of green energy are solar, wind, hydro, and biomass energy.
10. Grow lots of plants
Offices tend to be dry and cold but by adding plants you can easily improve humidity levels. Plants are excellent air purifiers and provide your employees with fresh and healthy air. They help to absorb excess noise and reduce stress. Several studies have also shown that plants in the office also have a positive effect on productivity and satisfaction. Besides that, lots of plants in your office make it an attractive place to work.
11. Think about sustainable mobility
Not only your office should be sustainable, also the way your employees travel to the office deserves attention. Travelling sustainably means taking the train or bus, or biking or hiking to reduce CO2 emissions. Encourage your employees (also financially) to use public transport, carpool, or bike to work. Also set the right example as management team.
Let’s get to work!
As mentioned, there are many ways to make your office even more sustainable, but these first steps will get you started. Focus on the easier steps and the low-hanging fruits. Find out what you can easily change to make your office more sustainable and a better workplace for your employees. Make sure to involve your employees in these changes to create more commitment and satisfaction.