Ten easy adjustments to help save the planet

22nd Sep 2020

What small changes can you and your colleagues make at work to support a sustainable future?

coffee cup in water

Saving the planet can sometimes sound like an impossible task, but if you do your little bit, you can make a big difference.

It’s easy for us to forget that our small choices have an impact on the environment. We’ve all seen the pictures of plastic drink bottles in the ocean, and I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking ‘that’s not mine’ – but is it?

We have put together ten easy changes you can make to help create a sustainable future.

1. Reusable coffee cups

Invest a reusable coffee cup that you love.

It is no secret that plastic cups and coffee cups are a big problem for the environment - including the single-use plastic lid.

According to greenmatch.co.uk:

“16 billion paper cups are used for coffee every single year, which leads to 6.5 million trees cut down, 4 billion gallons of water going to waste, and enough energy to power 54,000 homes for a year also goes to waste”.

When you invest in your own to-go coffee cup, you’ll not only be helping the planet, but you’ll also save money.

Like many places, Starbucks offers a discount on your drink if you bring your own cup. Cheers to that.

2. Change your tea bags

As a nation of tea lovers, Britons consume approximately 60.2bn cups of tea each year. But, while you might assume that your tea bags are made simply from tea and paper, in actual fact many of them contain polypropylene – a substance used to seal them and ensure they hold their shape.

In fact, your cup of tea might contain 11 billion microplastic particles due to the way the teabag is engineered according to iamplasticfree.com

Changing your tea to a plastic-free brand will not only benefit you but will also mean your tea bag will be biodegradable.

3. Recycle your paper

Like most things, recycling paper conserves natural resources, saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and keeps landfill space free for other types of rubbish that can't be recycled.

It may seem like a no-brainer to you at work but making that extra effort to take that one post-it note or a single sheet of paper to the bin can make the difference.

According to recylingbins.co.uk:

“The UK uses over 12.5 million tonnes of paper each year. This equates to a forest the size of Wales. We recycle around 80% of that in the UK.

“If every person in the UK recycled just 10% more paper, we would save approximately 5 million trees each year.”

4. Take a packed lunch

Instead of going out and buying lunch on your break, take a packed lunch from home to work.

Fast food and fast-casual restaurants often serve meals in single-use, throw away packaging that can end up in landfills – or sometimes on the side of the road.

Can you visualise all the plastic containers, plastic bags and plastic cutlery from all your work lunches? How much plastic is there?

By taking a packed lunch, you will not only be reducing single-use plastic and food waste, but you’ll save hundreds, possibly thousands, of pounds a year too.

5. Bike, walk or car share to work

Reduce your carbon footprint and give your body some T.L.C. by biking or walking to work.

Getting out of the car contributes to a cleaner, healthier air.

According to cyclinguk.org, every year in the UK, outdoor pollution is linked to around 40,000 deaths.

By walking, cycling or even sharing a ride, you are helping to reduce the harmful and deadly emissions, effectively saving lives and making the world a healthier place to live.

6. Invest in a good water bottle

Currently, around 38.5 million plastic bottles are used every day across the UK and 15 million of these are not recycled.

Even if they are recycled, they can take up to 400 years to decompose.

Investing in a reusable water bottle will reduce the amount of plastic bottle you buy and will ultimately have a positive effect on the environment – and save you money.

7. Turn your computer off overnight

Turning your computer off overnight saves energy, and if you’re working from home, it will save you money.

According to optimalmonitoring.com:

“A single computer and monitor left on 24 hours a day will cost around £45 a year. Switching it off out of hours and enabling standby features could reduce this to less than £10 a year each and prolong the lifespan of the equipment.”

If you’re working on a laptop you can also save the battery power by turning it off.

8. Reduce your printing

Are you that person in the office that prints everything? That multi-coloured checklist does look nice, but do you really need to print it? Probably not.

Cut down on printing by really asking yourself “is it really necessary?”

9. Use the hand dryers

Paper towels or hand dryers? If you have the option, choose hand dryers. Paper towels amount to a significant amount of rubbish that is very rarely recycled.

A study by MIT in 2011 found that warm air hand dryers and paper towels were found to generate 70% more carbon emissions than the newest technology.

10. Spread the word

Often, when people are damaging the environment, it is because they don’t have the facts, or haven’t considered the impact of their action.

Share this list with your friends – The more people that take on even just one new habit, the bigger the difference we can make for our planet. 

Let’s work together to make the world a better place.