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5 Hacks to Make Your Workplace More Sustainable

5 Hacks to Make Your Workplace More Sustainable

October 28, 2019

Noam Hazan & Bruce Freeman

‘Sustainability’ was one of those trendy topics of the early 2000s that unfortunately is now no longer a trend but an imperative! We live in a crazy world, where science is being challenged and the realities of global warming and pollution are being ignored. We can’t rely on our governments to protect the planet and so it’s up to the people to make a difference!

Making your office more sustainable can be easier than you think. Here are 5 easy hacks you can do for the environment. 

1. Plastic Surgery? Cut out the plastic!

Microplastics - you know, those tiny weeny bits of plastic invisible to the naked eye that we consume every day. According to a publication in Environmental Science and Technology 2019 studying the Human Consumption of Microplastics, we ingest somewhere between 39,000 and 52,000 particles annually through water. This increases to 74,000 and 121,000 when inhalation is considered. 

Not only is plastic killing us, but we have all seen what it does to our oceans. 

Here at SDI we’ve implemented a new policy that asks suppliers when they bring catered meals and refreshments to our office to NOT bring any plastic containers or utensils. We use the (non-plastic) plates, glasses, and cutlery we have in the office.

Don’t forget to check if your coffee capsules are compostable!

2. Sort it out!

Find out how your building sorts waste and separate it accordingly. 

Clear labeling and using different coloured bins really helps. 

Not all office buildings or even municipalities offer comprehensive recycling programs, especially for organic waste, but your home probably does. To overcome the limited recycling options offered in our building we have a team of sustainability champions who take the composting home with them on a regular basis. 

3. Meatless Mondays.

Reduce your meat consumption. According to an article in The Guardian, meat and dairy provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of farmland. Avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact, according to the scientists behind the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet.

 Some companies (such as WeWork) have gone as far as banning all meat from catered meals. (We aren’t there yet…baby steps...!) Trial-running one day a week in your lunchroom is a great way to get the ball rolling.

4. Join the Cause!

Join your local or regional green advocacy group or sign a pledge (and follow-through!). SDI is a proud member of the Canada Green Building Council, promoting the design of greener buildings in our cities. 

As well we have signed-on at Architect’s Declare, wherein we pledge to take immediate action through our projects and our advocacy to work towards the objectives of the Paris Climate Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

You and your co-workers can join the cause by taking a look at the UN’s goals and figuring out ways to incorporate them into your working day. (…and your after-work life!) The David Suzuki Foundation also has a few ideas for you.

Advocate! One of the most effective actions you can take is to lend your voice. Attend the Fridays for Future marches in your community, ask your management team to do more, tell your investment advisor to divest your portfolio of carbon culprits, etc.

5. Lights out!

If your office doesn’t have sensors that automatically turn lights off when no one is around, create a policy that states that the last one out at the end of the day turns off the lights. If you are in a large office, then turn off the lights in your immediate work area or office. 

Adding some basic signs by every meeting room light switch helps remind people to turn off the lights. 

Next Steps

These are just some easy hacks that you or your company can implement. If you are serious about sustainability and the environment, start with the low hanging fruit and take it from there. 

To help you get started, this is an exact copy of the notes from the first meeting of SDI’s Sustainability Working Group:

  • Organize ourselves to act on making our workplace more sustainable. 

  • Give ourselves a few wins so we feel like we’re contributing to solutions

  • Acquire expertise so we can move on to bigger challenges

  • Identify ‘low hanging fruit’

  • Scale up

  • Develop workplace processes and practices

  • Implement organization-wide policies

  • Group structure / commitment 

  • Individuals / sub-groups or committees. 

  • Set Regular meetings

"Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much." -- Helen Keller

 We’re all counting on your help! Good luck!

© 2024 SDI Interior Design & Project Coordination

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