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Reducing your environmental footprint at work with small

Fewer and fewer people have any doubt that the biggest environmental threat facing the human race is climate change. We know the grim reality that is all around us, but are we aware that we still have time to stop its worst consequences?

It is enough to change certain habits in our private and professional lives. Each action counts if when added together that results in a cleaner planet for our children and grandchildren.


Take care of the environment from your office with these seven actions

Minimising our impact on the environment with small routine actions should be a priority for all of us.

So, what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint, that is, our own impact on the environment? There are many ways, including changing some of our habits as workers.

"Many small people in many small places, doing small things, can change the world."Eduardo Galeano

We spend a lot of our time at the office, so that is where we must begin to reduce the environmental impact of our actions. In our workplaces, we can also put into practice the 3Rs rule for taking care of the environment: Reduce, Recycle and Reuse.

What small actions can you put into practice in your office?


Turning off computers and other office equipment when they are not going to be used 

In most offices there are lots of computers and electrical equipment that are left on stand-by when not in use. Turn them off if you know they won't be used for several hours. You will be saving costs for the company and it will also help toreduce the electricity consumed to keep a machine on standby when it is not being used.

Here are two very clear examples of where you can save a lot of electricity:

  • The red light that stays on on monitors. Even if they are not working at that moment, the power that they consume is very significant in the long term. The best solution is to unplug the device, if it is a television, or turn the computer screen off completely when it is not in use.
  • Chargers. There are many devices that do not have red lights to indicate that they are wasting electricity. However, they are, because they have internal transformers that generate consumption. This is the case with chargers in general. When there is no device connected to them, they continue to use electricity. The best thing you can do is to unplug them.


Emails with unnecessary messages

Did you know that emails also pollute? When you send an email, electricity is required to power the data centres, computers and other devices that are needed to filter, read and deliver the messages. The use of all these devices leads to the emission of carbon dioxide.

Did you know that if each user did not send just one of these emails each week, 16,433 tons of carbon dioxide would stop being emitted into the atmosphere in one year?

In view of these figures, the conclusion is obvious. Avoid sending emails that do not offer anything to the recipient, such as "Thank you", "Received" or "Have a nice weekend", etc. In this way, you will reduce your carbon footprint much more significantly than would appear at first glance.

Optimise paper usage

Paper is one of the most common materials in any workplace. Whenever you can, reuse those sheets that have already been used: to take notes during a meeting or a telephone conversation or to jot down useful information for your work.

Also remember that it is not necessary to print out each and every one of the emails you receive. Most of the information you receive in emails can be stored in the cloud. Print them only if it is absolutely essential.

And use special containers to deposit all paper and cardboard that can no longer be reused.


Multi-purpose printers

There are printers that consume half as much energy as others and also perform several functions, as they can print, photocopy and scan. In other words, a single machine can do the task of three, meaning that electricity consumption is much lower.

Also, remember that toner and ink cartridges can be recycled.


Coffee cups and glass bottles

Many offices have a rest area for their workers. It is very common to find coffee makers and other electronic devices from which to have a well deserved snack.

If this is the case, reuse the utensils and, as much as possible, avoid using single-use containers (each employee can have their own cup, for example). Say no to plastic bottles and yes to glass ones. And, of course, unplug the machines whenever they are not in use.


Use natural light whenever you can

Whenever possible, turn off the lights and take advantage of the natural light coming in through your office windows. If you cannot take advantage of an outside-facing space, use energy saving light bulbs everywhere in the office: in the offices, bathrooms and rest areas.

LED bulbs use up to 80% less electricity and last longer than other kinds. They are recyclable and do not contain so many polluting elements.


Keep an eye on the heating and air conditioning

Offices built with good insulation make it possible to optimise the use of heating and air conditioning devices. Also, follow these tips to avoid wasting as much electricity on heating and air conditioning:

  • Lower the temperature of the heating. Lowering the temperature by a single degree means the CO2 emissions are reduced by 300kg.  Some experts point out that it is best to keep the thermostat at 21 to 22 degrees.
  • As for air conditioning, the temperature should never be excessively low since energy consumption will end up sky-rocketing. To avoid this, lower the blinds on particularly sunny days and, even if you must turn the A/C on, firmly close all doors and windows so that the heat does not get in and the area cools down more quickly.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioners; their energy consumption is much lower.


Plants to purify the atmosphere

There are plants that help reduce any pollutants that may be floating around inside the office. They purify the air and not all of them need direct natural light to survive.

With each of these actions, no matter how small, you will be helping to minimise the impact of your work on the environment. And not just inside the office. When you go to your work place, try to use non-polluting vehicles and, if this is not possible, use public transport safely. The objective is to avoid emitting CO2 into the atmosphere whenever 

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