Going green in the workplace

Monday, July 16, 2018
by Magdalena Bentia

Being environmentally friendly does not have to be a part-time job at home. Many workplaces are now making efforts to create an eco-friendly workplace. By recently joining the Green Office Initiative led by Sustainability, the Writing and Communication Centre has made improvements throughout our office and learned a few things along the way. Here are some easy tips on how to become a greener workplace.


The most important part of being a green office is ensuring that everyone is willing to participate and make lifestyle changes to promote the cause.

staff talking on a couch

  • Gain employee interest by presenting how their actions can make a change and confirm interest by collecting signatures for a promise to make an effort in the initiative
  • Organize green challenges and send emails about notable green initiatives in the news
  • Take a couple minutes at each staff meeting to let the office know about any green office updates


There are many different ways to reduce energy expenditure in the workplace.

energy cables outside

  • A simple energy saving task is to turn off the lights when you are not in the room. Add posters around the office light switches as a reminder for when you leave the room.
  • When it comes to printing, make sure to set the printer default to print double-sided papers, as this will ultimately reduce the use of paper
  • Connect your computer, lamp and other electronic cords to an energy bar that you can turn off at the end of the day. This is a quick fix to reduce phantom power
  • Encourage employees to keep shades drawn during the summer to reduce the use of the air conditioner


Starting your day off on the right foot could be as simple as walking to work

person walking and another person riding a bike on a street

  • Depending on the season, try to arrive to work in a more environmentally friendly fashion such as by biking, walking, bussing or carpooling. TravelWise is a great website to track your commutes and find out how much CO2 emission you saved on the trip
  • When hosting an event, send out an email about instructions on how to get to the event without driving
  • Try to carpool with a coworker if you are both attending the same conference


Only 30% of the 31 million tonnes of garbage produced by Canadians each year is recycled. You might be surprised at how easy it is to eliminate some of the garbage in your life. 

compost garbage and recycling bins outside

  • Encourage composting within the office by placing a compost bin in the lunch area and instructions on what items can go in the bin
  • Add a Good On One Side (GOOS) paper bin near the printer to encourage reusing paper
  • Ensure that each recycling and garbage bin is accompanied by instructions on what can go in the bins. Ex. Garbage vs Fine Paper Recycling vs Container Recycling
  • Encourage the use of mugs at work to replace disposable coffee cups. Most coffee shops like Tim Hortons or Starbucks will even give customers a discount for using a reusable mug
  • Become informed on drop-off locations for writing utensils or reach out to the TerraCycle program at Staples for pick up inquiries
  • Promote the use of paper plates instead of Styrofoam plates in the lunch room or for events
  • Plan staff events to promote litter less lunches such as Waste Reduction Week or staff walks outdoors

Getting your colleagues in touch with their greener side just got a bit easier!