Turning Your Passion for Sustainability Into a Passion, Career or Hobby
Have you ever thought about helping the company you work for become greener or dreamed about launching a career in sustainable energy? There’s no better time than now to make your vision a reality and help the environment in the process.
Here is some insight into why a sustainable workforce is important, how to help, what to look for in a company that cares about the environment, and resources to help you start your own eco-friendly business. There are several energy efficiency organizations you can get involved with along the way.
Finding Companies Focused on Sustainability
Companies with green practices are often more desirable because employees value working for a company that cares about the environment and its impact on the world. It’s also a sign of a positive work environment because green practices improve workers’ attitudes, their perceptions of their surroundings, and encourages cooperation among workers.
positive impact on workers’ performance by improving their perceptions of the surrounding office environment
Companies believe it’s their social responsibility to promote sustainability and key to being successful in the future business environment. And it makes employees more productive.
A green-certified office boosts cognition by 26 percent, results in fewer sickness-related absences by 30 percent, and increases sleep quality by 6 percent, according to one study by Harvard University. Who doesn’t want increased employee engagement, concentration levels, better sleep, and good air quality?
Companies all over the world are embracing green practices in an effort to reduce their office carbon footprint. UnitedHealth Group is one such example. The company is moving toward paperless communications and implementing conservation initiatives. According to their website, in 2016 they recycled 7,263 tons of paper and saved 123,750 trees, plus completed 27 funded energy projects including upgrading interior and exterior lighting and improving building controls. Wal-Mart is another company that has made huge advances in its strict policy to cut off suppliers whose manufacturing, processing and distribution methods contribute to vast carbon emissions.
Records Shredding & Scanning
Many businesses are pursuing paperless document management strategies to streamline work processes and cut costs as well. With document scanning technologies, offices can scan and convert their old paper documents into electronic formats. This reduces the carbon footprint and gets rid of the need for boxes and storage units by eliminating and shredding paper waste. It’s a huge way to improve a company in any field’s sustainability efforts.
Completely paperless offices may seem unrealistic, but every business can do its part to cut down on the printed material when possible. Use 100 percent recycled content paper, or when getting your promotional materials printed, ask your printer for FSC Certified paper. Little changes go a long way in doing your part.
Become an Ecopreneur
An ecopreneur is someone who “builds a business that creates products or services that benefit people, the planet, and prosperity — the 3 P’s,” according to global ecopreneur Ted Rollins of Valeo Group. An ecopreneur operates an environmentally sustainable business, including selling environmentally friendly products and services such as green construction, organic food, and recycling efforts.
“Their business might foster fair trade relationships (promoting economic justice and equity), generate more energy from renewable energy sources than it uses (severing our addiction to fossil fuels) and even serve local, seasonal, vegetarian, and organic meals to those who work in the business,” says SustainABlog writer John Ivanko.
For those with a true passion, there are many possibilities for starting eco-friendly businesses with a good mix of ideas and effort that can bring more to the table than just money. For example, Stella McCartney’s sustainable fashion line bans leather and fur and promotes vegetarian meals with Meat Free Monday and her organic skincare line. She makes an effort to walk her talk.
Make the Office Greener
There are always more ways for business and employees to adopt policies aimed at making the office more eco-friendly.
Here are several suggestions:
- Encourage employees to bring their own mugs for coffee and tea. Don’t buy paper or styrofoam cups that only get thrown out at the end of the day.
- Buy fair trade, organic coffee, and teas for the office.
- In our telecommuting age, encourage employees to work from home or ride their bikes to work, if possible.
- Form a sustainability team that can raise awareness and makes steps to reduce, reuse and recycle. Every office can probably use a better recycling program. Hold lunch and learn sessions to keep everyone updated and encourage implementation of new policies. Invite professionals to your office to provide suggestions on possible strategies.
- Bring a desk plant to improve air quality.
- Maximize natural lighting. The World Green Building Council reports that employees working near sunlit windows have a 15 percent higher production rate.
A primary source of information and influence is the Energy Efficiency Business Coalition that serves not only as an important resource for businesses but for individuals looking to start a career in energy efficiency. There are many ways for all of us to pursue our passions, implement change, and make a major impact on our office environment.