Tips for Going Green at the Office

April 6, 2017
Posted in: How To, Machine News

We’re pretty green here at Machine, and it didn’t actually take all that much effort to lower our impact on the environment.  Here are a few of the steps we took:

1. Recycle Everything

We recycle plastic, metal and paper, and compost any organic material.  There’s a central set of bins that everyone uses, so we’ve eliminated garbage cans.

We also recycle bits of technology like printer cartridges and batteries using local recycling centers.  We use rechargeable batteries wherever possible.

2. Plants Everywhere!

Plants clean the air, liven up the office and add a pop of colour. We have a large plant wall made up of dozens of small potted plants, as well as individual plants spread around the office.

3. Heating & Cooling

We replaced our thermostat with a Nest, and have it scheduled to eco-friendly temperatures outside of regular office hours.  We turn the heat down during winter, and up during summer.

4. Electricity

Computers

Since we’re a web shop, we’re all using a computer for most of the day, but that doesn’t mean we can’t save a bit of energy.  Most of us use a Mac Mini and LED monitors – both consume very little power.  We have them set to go to sleep within a few minutes of inactivity, and turn them off every night.  To make our lives a bit easier, we have them set to turn on every morning just before we get to work.

Fridge & Freezer

We turned the temperature up a bit in both the fridge and freezer.

Lights

Our office lights (both ceiling fixtures and desk lamps) use high-efficiency LED bulbs.  They’re designed to last 25+ years, and use only a few watts where conventional bulbs would use about 10x more.  We take advantage of natural light whenever possible by opening our blinds, avoiding turning the lights on at all.

5. In the Kitchen

We have a fully stocked kitchen with reusable plates, bowls, mugs, and cutlery.  Drinking water is kept in a Brita water filtration pitcher in the fridge instead of using a water cooler or running the tap.

6. The Building Itself

We can’t take credit for anything here except for actually buying the place, but our building is LEED Silver certified, which basically means it’s very green.  It includes recycled materials, has super efficient insulation, windows, doors, and appliances like the furnace, AC unit, and tank-less hot water heater.

7. Commuting to Work

We all try to walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit to get to work.  We offer a bike subsidy for those looking to buy a bike (second-hand is suggested), and help pay for transit passes.

8. Printing & Paper

We’ve basically stopped printing altogether.  The printer is unplugged unless someone really needs to use it.

We use notebooks quite a bit, so we’re very excited to be receiving our new Everlast reusable smart notebooks this summer.  They’re not made of paper, can be reused forever, and sync up with our digital world rather nicely.

For all those we chat with, we’ve added a friendly “Save a tree, don’t print this email.” message to our email signatures.

We use glass whiteboards (or our windows and doors) instead of plastic whiteboards or rolls of paper.  We use Sketchpad for quick digital drawings during in-office discussions.

9. Cleaning Supplies

We use environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies and reuse our towels & rags.

10. Coffee

Most of us drink coffee, but since we don’t all drink it at the same time, we have a Keurig machine.  Those little pods were adding up quickly, so we switched to the reusable “My K-Cup” attachment, and buy organic fair-trade coffee beans.  The machine is set to power down when not in use.

11. Lunch

We recommend that everyone brings a lunch from home in a reusable container instead of ordering or getting takeout.  A nice side-effect is that it’s quite a bit cheaper!

12. Junk Mail

We don’t really benefit from flyers or unaddressed (junk) mail at the office, so we simply placed a note in our mailbox saying “No unaddressed mail, please =)”, and it stopped!  You can read more on this directly from Canada Post.  We also signed up for the CMA Do Not Mail list to stop the addressed mail we didn’t ask for.

13. Cheques

While most of our clients now pay us digitally (wire transfer, direct deposit, etc…), some continue to use cheques.  When we land a new project, we send them a nice PDF that explains our green initiative, gives them our banking information, and suggests digital payments.

14. Client Meetings

We love our clients, and we love seeing them, but many meetings can be done by phone, Google Hangout, Skype, or similar.  This reduces our time commuting, making us more efficient while reducing emissions. We use Slack with clients and within our team for quick chats.

15. Casual dress code

A casual dress code means a lot less dry-cleaning!

Overall, implementing our green initiative was a positive experience for the whole company, and opened our eyes to how easy it is to reduce our impact on the environment.

Interested in greening your own office?  Let us know how it goes!