Combating global warming isn't the sole responsibility of the government and international organizations. Every individual has the power to make a difference and it is up to us to get involved. Here are some simple tips on how you can make your office eco-friendly and help alter the reality of climate change:
- Do not leave appliances on standby. Always switch off your computer, printer, television etc from the source.
- Recycle as much paper as you can. We often print on only one side of a sheet and then throw it away. Try not to do this. Scrap paper should be sent for recycling.
- Your office doesn't need to feel like the North pole! Try to switch off the air conditioner when it isn't needed. It's a great change to have some fresh air around the office so opening the windows might not be such a bad idea!
- If you have a balcony or any open space around your office try to plant a couple of trees or at least grow some plants.
- Change to low-energy bulbs and tubes such as compact fluorescent light bulbs. High voltage bulbs consume much more electricity!
- What would an office be without mountains of paper? Saving your data on discs not only saves trees it also keeps your office neat and organised!
- Try to form a car-pool with people in your area or to take public transport to work. It takes a little longer but it does a world of good for our environment.
- Bombay might lack dustbins but that's not an excuse to litter. If you take the train or bus to work you're bound to see people throwing garbage out of the window. Make it a point to correct them. Plastic bags, cola bottles etc are the environment's worst enemies.
- Reduce your waste. Try taking your lunch in a reusable lunch box instead of using foil and cling wrap.
You've made all the change you were asked to-switched off the lights, printed on both sides of the sheet and started a carpool. Now it's time to measure the difference they have made. A green audit is the best way to determine the impact your office has on the environment. Shall we start with your green audit?
Form a green audit team in your office. If you share your office space with other organisations, work together to make your building more eco-friendly.
Divide your organisation into departments that can be individually assessed on an eco-meter. For example, your supply department which buys stationary and your housekeeping department which keeps your office clean.
Sit down with people from each department and analyse their consumption pattern. Does the supply office interact directly with the employees? Are they absolutely sure that the 100 printer sheets lying on the table are efficiently used or are they only too happy to replenish it within a few days. Try the housekeeping department. Do they find that the taps are left running and that litter isn't segregated? These are all very important. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started with your green audit.
How much water do you use?
To find out how much water is consumed by each person, first obtain the total water consumed in a day and the total number of people inhabiting the office. You can obtain the water consumption figures from water bills. Calculate an entire year's bills and obtain the monthly or daily average. Are water saving devices fitted in office toilets and washrooms?
Note: Find out the feasibility of rainwater harvesting in your building. The collected water can be used for replenishing the groundwater table or stored for later use.
How much energy do you consume?
Walk around your office and see how many lights are kept on during a typical day. Experiment with switching off a few to see how many you can do without.
Note: By working fixed hours, electricity bills can be brought down considerably.
How healthy is the office environment?
Yes it is hot in Mumbai but that does not mean your office needs to feel like the North pole. Answer the following questions for yourself-is your office well ventilated? Do you have large windows, exhaust fans, etc.
Also check for toxins. Which indoor and outdoor pesticides/insecticides are used? What cleaning solutions, paints and plastics are used?
Note: Consider organic and natural alternatives that can be used instead.
How much waste do you generate?
Look at quantity of paper you purchase each year and examine your existing recycling system. In most offices abroad, a single envelope is circulated around the office. This is how. The envelope has numerous addressee lines. If A sends B some material in the envelope, he will write B's name on the first line of the envelope. On receiving the letter, B will cancel his name and the next time he has to send material, he will use the same envelope, filling out his addressee's name on the lower line.
Note: Cutting down on waste will also help reduce expenditure on office supplies. Encourage recyling of paper and other supplies.
How much green area does your office have?
The green area is usually the unpaved area around your office building. To find out this area, delete the built-in area and the paved areas from the total office plot. Keep track of the trees in your area and ensure that they are not cut down. Try setting up an office garden, it will beautify your area and is a great place for employees to relax.