How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint as a Team
In the general global goals for sustainable development, reducing or erasing the carbon footprint of an organisation ranks high. However, that’s easier said than done, when there is panoply of factors and individuals to consider.
The carbon footprint of a company is the measurement of how much that company is contributing to the greenhouse gases that are accelerating global climate change. Every organisation, indeed every individual, has a carbon footprint– the intensity of it depends on what the company is and what they do. Enterprises and manufacturing companies can contribute directly to increasing carbon footprints, while smaller firms do so indirectly, through energy and electricity consumption, even their daily commutes.
As a smaller team or one that’s not directly involved in the organisation’s sustainable development goals, it’s quite challenging to tackle the larger problems such as emissions, waste disposal and the footprint of franchises. However, there are quite a few environmentally sustainable work practices that can effectively snowball into broader climate change solutions.
Measure Your Carbon Footprint First
The springboard to adopting the right sustainable environmental practices is to measure your firm’s carbon footprint first. Use a free emissions calculator or a government-approved generator to find out what level your footprint is at. Once done, you can strategize accordingly and decide to do something about it. This is also a good benchmark to come back to
Make Energy-Saving Habits Compulsory
There are plenty of energy-saving behaviours that are simple to put in place yet positively impact carbon-cutting in the long run. Make these a compulsory practice to maintain environmental sustainability in the workplace. If you find employees doing this of their own accord, that’s well and good, but if they’re being implemented in a lax manner, consider attaching some rewards or recognition factors to up the ante.
Something as simple as shutting down office computers, instead of leaving them on standby, can have a positive impact– a lone computer running for 24 hours can produce 1,500 pounds of CO2 emissions in a year. Turn off all lights when a space is not in use and consider motion-sensitive lighting for rarely used corridors and hallways. Enable timers on photocopy machines and other hefty equipment so they turn off automatically when not in use.
Bring In Green Employee Engagement Programs
Employee engagement programs are used to motivate and encourage employees to perform their best, as well as reward them for successful milestones. For an interesting, sustainable twist, consider revamping old-school points and money programs into ones that involve helping the environment and being a part of something bigger.
Consider initiating a ‘plant a tree’ program, or partnering with a firm like EcoMatcher that makes corporate tree planting for sustainability seamless and fully digital. If you have the funds and the motivation, consider planting an entire forest and encouraging your employees to virtually look after one or two. Successful employee engagement strategies can be a massive boost in morale, both on the individual as well as the corporate front.
This is easily extendable to corporate gifting programs. If your team is hosting VIPs or is leading a conference, consider gifting plants, saplings or fully-grown trees to them, by purchasing them on EcoMatcher’s TreeShop.
Maintain Optimum Thermostat Or Air-Conditioning Temperatures
Air conditioning temperatures are a point of disagreement in almost every office. There’s one way to find a middle ground, and a sustainable one at that– maintaining temperatures between 24ºC and 27ºC depending on the weather. This makes the system more energy-efficient, thereby reducing electricity consumption and expenditure. In the longer run, lowering energy consumption on such a scale can reduce a company’s carbon footprint multi-fold, especially when implemented by other teams.
The same tips apply for heating systems in colder regions. Maintaining a level temperature throughout the year and encouraging employees to dress accordingly instead will reduce energy consumptions by a significant amount.
Establish Carpool And Shared Transport Systems
One of the fastest ways to drop your carbon emissions is to reduce travel. Teams must encourage employees to carpool based on location if possible. On a larger scale, companies can establish shared transport systems– buses or shared cars– that service specific routes and pick up and drop off employees. The benefits of shared transport are multi-fold, because it reduces carbon emissions and allows employees to network beyond their teams, which could lead to more innovation and cohesiveness.
On a smaller scale, teams can endeavour to reduce trips by vehicles outside the office. This could be meetings with clients or by working remotely; by using video call and web conference platforms, you can easily avoid unnecessary trips while getting work done in a collaborative atmosphere. Tie this in with employee engagement programs if required– say, the more an employee cuts down on trips, the higher their incentive, or the more trees they have to their name in an adopted forest.
Reduce Waste In The Workplace
This standard sustainability tip can go a long way when implemented in an organisation regularly. It’s also sound business-wise because the team’s contribution to overall expenses drops significantly. Consider recycling old or outdated documents instead of just trashing them. In the pantry, swap out single-use supplies for more sustainable steel or wood counterparts. Buy organic or Fair-Trade edibles and partner with a company to compost wet waste from the larger kitchens.
Run Employee Education Programs
Most programs will come to a standstill if employees don’t want to follow through, aren’t encouraged to do so, or simply don’t know what difference it’s going to make. Top-down programs fare far worse, as employees see it as a compulsory involvement, not one that personally benefits them. This is why team efforts count! To make bigger changes at the top rungs, it starts from the bottom. Consider setting up programs that make employees understand just how important their contribution is and ensure they’re all equally informed.
Despite sustainability being a hot topic in today’s world, quite a few seminars on it turn out to be boring, a repetition of what’s already been said. To make programs more interactive, consider adding milestones, rewards like trees and recognitions for those who do their bit and those who go above and beyond. Doing this on an individual basis within a team, or team-wise in a larger organisation, can make employees feel like a part of something bigger than themselves or the company– the planet!
Sustainable practices at the workplace needn’t be expensive, time-consuming or taking ages to implement. On a team-by-team basis, a firm can reduce its carbon footprint and significantly contribute to global sustainability goals.