Indoor pollution in offices is an area of genuine concern. Unfortunately we don’t pay much attention to this. The good news is that it’s easy to make a green office by making smart choices. At UrbanMeisters, we strongly believe pollution prevention is all about these smart choices. Little things we can do to make our carbon footprint lighter for example. In the last story we uncovered and deconstructed this office indoor air pollution for you. Today it is all about a « hands on » approach as we empwoer you with 4 DIY steps to make your office green and healthy. So gear up and stop waiting for the employer to solve all your problems. The power to change is in your hands.
1. 3Rs make a Green Office: Re-duce, Re-use & Re-cycle
RE-DUCE to make an impact
- Down with Paper Pushing. This is an easy one as you all certainly know, but we still need to repeat it as most people don’t follow this easiest DIY tip. They still love to be file pushers in this glorious age of smart gadgets! So please digitise as much as possible and reduce paper usage. Do not go crazy printing and photocopying. Take it easy and print only when absolutely needed because reviewing it on a screen instead of paper will yield the same result. And if you absolutely must print then do install and run new softwares like Greenprint that delete blank pages from in between files before you hit print. Also, feel free to use e-mail as much as possible even for the official resignation.
- Do switch off the lights and all your computer equipment thoroughly at the end of work day to conserve power and reduce emissions. Keeping equipment on power mode even after work hours is a pure waste of energy and increases greenhouse gas emissions. Big machines like the copier etc which remain on all the time are a hazard because they generate much heat. So switch off your personal computers and get admin to keep office equipment on power off mode when not in use.
- Do limit the use of whiteners, markers, highlighters, air freshers as far as possible. These contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which accelerate indoor pollution. VOCs are a large group of chemicals that easily evaporate at room temperature. They can have short and long-term adverse effects on your health: eye, nose and throat irritation, frequent headaches, nausea, and damaging of the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Read more here. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on the level of exposure to VOCs and length of time exposed. So try to avoid them as much as you can. In your green office go for dry correction tape instead of liquid correction fluid. Use water-based and scent less markers.
Privilege RE-USE rather than throwing away
- By bringing your own cups and dish-ware to office for use and reduce the use of disposable cups as far as possible. Drink your tea/ coffee in your own cups and try and reduce the dependence on paper cups etc. Another advantage of this? Buy those cups with cheeky urban office one liners and maybe send some subtle yet effective messages to your boss or the hated colleague!
- Bringing your pressed juice and other liquid diet essentials in re-usable bottles, after all, this looks so much cooler than PET bottles. Here are some of our favorite Instagamers that show you how it goes:
Feel free to RE-CYCLE!
Did you know that 9 out 10 items we throw away in office can actually be re-cycled?
Yes, it’s true! Like paper products- copy paper, envelopes, magazines. Cardboard boxes from shipped supplies and ink cartridges etc. And for these we don’t even need to go to a specialist. We can all re-cycle these ourselves.
Like Re-use paper as much as possible by ensure that documents and photocopies are double-sided and both sides of paper are also used in filing and writing. You can also easily re-use office supplies such as envelopes, paper clips, elastic bands, file folders, binders, etc. Buy stationery made with re-cycled content and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
Re-cycle everything that can be recycled and you’d be surprised at how many things can be- paper products, batteries, used printer cartridges and a lot of other office equipment. Make optimum use of your office re-cycling program and if there is none then organise one with authorities yourself.
2. Use eco-friendly Fonts
A green office demands green fonts. So chose one of the following eco-friendly fonts for printing: Courier or Century Gothic.
This is the perfect example to show how a small smart choice we make can have a big impact. Eco-friendly fonts consume far less ink than regular ones. Print jobs are thus faster and use less electricity. Less ink is used and thus less has to be manufactured and shipped creating less plastic and metal waste. And this is only the beginning of the positive effects as Vladimir Gendelman, one of the experts in eco-friendy print marketing and graphic design explains: « When a design uses less ink, it also means that if the final product is eventually recycled, the plant won’t have to use as much energy stripping ink from the paper. Additionally, less bleaching will be necessary, which means fewer harmful chemicals will end up impacting the environment. »
See! We did not over promise! With this easy change, you are creating less CO2 emissions and your carbon footprint reduces in several sizes. Cynics might say this step will not save trees, but at UrbanMeisters we strongly believe, all small steps everyday add up to make what is called change!
Read here how you can also challange your graphic-designer for your designs.
3. Plant away the blues
Do bring a lot of potted plants for a green office. This is the place that you spend most of your day in so make it beautiful and healthier. And plants will certainly do the trick. Research- most prominent being the NASA Clean Air Study – has found that some plants help fight indoor air pollution more than others.
You can read in this related article the ones we recommend.
We also bring you a very interesting product to plant these in- AIRY. This is a plant pot that neutralises the toxins in the air and produces fresh, clean air. This is an award winning German innovation that is all the rage these days. It needs no power- has its own energy source and is off the grid and not even a filter-change is ever required. This fabulous innovation is a magic air cleaner- one AIRY system (pot, substrate, plant) can neutralise about 75% of the most dangerous environmental toxins in a room of 16 square meter (172 square feet) in only 24 hours! So essentially your indoor plant growing in an AIRY is 8 times more effective in purifying your air from pollutants mentioned above than it growing on a regular pot. Definitely worth the investment. UrbanMeisters has kickstarted this project and just received the first to test. We will share with you soon our impressions. If you are already hooked like us you can check out more and order here.
4. Demand a better working environment
This is your absolute right and it’s your employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy working environment so don’t be shy of demanding it. Demand a re-cycle program if none exists in office. Ensure the place is stocked with minimal VOC emitting equipment and cleaned with ‘safe’ and environment friendly products. Demand better air circulation or installation of air purifiers. Always remember you are the key resource of the company so you come first. Become your company’s Green Executive today!
Keep it Green people!