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When we think about being eco-friendly, we often think about our homes because we seem to have more control over what products we use there. We can make sure that the items that come into our home represent our values and leave the planet a little greener. While the home is a great place to start our move towards being environmentally friendly, that is not where the journey must end. Surprisingly, we can have a larger say in how environmentally friendly our workplaces are than we might think at first.
Understanding this impact means we can talk with management and share eco-friendly ideas to help their bottom line by saving the company money. We all work in a wide range of settings so let us look at a few (a science lab, an office, and a children’s program) and see what changes we might encourage leaders to make.
While there are many low-cost ways to make your work environment more eco-friendly, you can make larger advances if you have a budget to work with. But where will you get the money? Here’s where you may have to be creative. If you manage a children’s program, you might be able to raise the money with a couple of bake sales. But let’s say you’re in charge of determining the budget for your company’s science lab.
You’d like to make costly changes to make your lab more eco-friendly, but you also need to buy a new autoclave this fiscal quarter. If you buy the autoclave and spend thousands of dollars outright, you won’t have anything left over for the eco-friendly alterations.
A creative solution might be to lease a new autoclave instead of buying one. (Some companies do this – look at this site for an example.) Leasing the lab equipment would allow you to have more room in your budget for other projects.
Scientific labs also need to be aware of specialized chemical and biological waste they may produce and which needs to be disposed of properly. This type of scientific waste management can be a challenge because we create waste and other products that can be quite harmful to the environment if not disposed of with care. Staying on top of our waste management is important for the environment and is a way we can make sure our lab will not face hefty fines.
Many offices also produce a large amount of waste. Sometimes we find that being more environmentally friendly is as simple as making sure our office has a robust recycling program, uses previously recycled products, or uses a water cooler instead of single-use water bottles.
Sometimes we may find that we can both boost hygiene and sustainability at the same time by introducing more plants or natural light. There are many ways to make sure that the offices we work in have the smallest carbon footprint possible.
We can also find ways to make sure that the electricity that runs our businesses is environmentally sound. This might look like switching to solar power or choosing an electricity company that uses solar power. For some offices, this might look like finding a building that used geothermal energy.
This could also look like having your office commit to planting trees to offset your carbon usage. No matter which path you suggest to management, changing how your office handles its electricity or offsets its electricity use can make a big difference.
So far, we’ve used offices and science labs as examples. What about if your workplace is a school, daycare, or other types of children’s program? When we are working with children, we must model good environmental stewardship.
One way is to bring children into the outdoors through outdoor activities. We often find that using the outside environment allows us to teach students in a more hands-on manner. It feels different to learn how animals camouflage themselves by watching them in a tree instead of simply reading about them from a book.
It does not matter what type of activities you do or where your program is located. Going on a walk to see flowers poking up on the sidewalk can be as interesting as having the opportunity to go on a long forest walk.
Another way to connect children to nature is to bring nature to students. We might choose to have our students watch the life cycle of chicks or butterflies in our classrooms. Another idea is to tap into environmental-themed teaching materials from a state or national park.
Consider the use of natural materials in art projects, such as doing leaf rubbings. There is a wide range of interesting ways to bring plants and animals into the classroom and create an experience that children will remember for years to come.
In the end, it does not matter what type of work environment you find yourself in. There are always ways you can improve your environmental impact. A lab, an office, or a kid’s program all can become environmentally sustainable. We can use our places of employment to help create a more sustainable future while we are working away at day-to-day tasks.
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