Seven Ways to Get Your Employees Thinking SustainablyIt’s easy to decide to green your company’s buildings and culture, but how can you get your employees on board with your company’s new environmentally-friendly persona. Here are some creative ways to get started:

1. Form a “green team”

Implement an employee-run committee to come up with Earth-conscious measures. This will make everyone feel more involved and create a team atmosphere.

2. Display results

Post your company’s power bill somewhere where everyone can see it. You can talk all day about going green, but if you make the goal tangible, you’ll see real results. You can reward employees with a company party if a certain amount is knocked off the power bill from one month to the next.

You could also take all of the water bottles thrown out by employees in one week and display them so they can get a visual of how much plastic they are using.

To help get the results you want, place notes on light switches, sinks, and water fountains reminding staff to turn off the light when they leave the room and to be conscious of how much water they are using. Also put notes by printers and computers asking workers to put them into sleep mode when they are not in use.

3. Offer green to employees who “go green”

Don’t forget, a little green to go green can do a lot to motivate employees. Offer incentives for carpooling to work or taking public transportation. Giving a bonus to a worker who comes up with new ways to leave less of an environmental footprint will give your company more ways to help Mother Nature.

4. Inform employees about environmental issues

Many of your employees may not know a lot about environmental issues, but a little knowledge can go a long way in getting your staff to participate in your green initiatives. Hold a brief meeting several times a year to inform employees about environmental issues and ways they can reduce their carbon footprint.

5. Put recycling bins in more than one place

If possible, give each employee their own recycling bin at their desk, along with a smaller trash can. Having a personal recycling bin will both make it easier for them to recycle, and make them personally responsible for doing so since it will be apparent who is recycling and who isn’t. A small trash can will fill up more quickly and make your employees more conscious of how much waste they are generating.

Also put up signs letting everyone know what can and can’t be recycled. Consider giving employees company mugs so that they don’t use disposable cups every time they make coffee.

6. Air-purifying plants

You’ll want some fresh air to go with the fresh approach in the office. NASA has conducted a clean air study for the top air-purifying plants. Here are a few of them:

  • The Areca Palm
    The Areca Palm is great for humidifying air in your office while removing toxins. In fact, it’s so good at remedying dry air that it can be used instead of electric humidifiers in the winter. That way, you can save energy while producing cleaner air.

  • The Lady Palm
    The Lady Palm is a great for making the office more aesthetically pleasing while cleaning the air. This easy-on-the-eyes-and-lungs plant should be watered without fertilizers and not be placed in direct sunlight.

  • The Rubber Plant
    The Rubber Plant does a stellar job getting toxins such as formaldehyde (found in carpets and paper products), benzene (present in plastics and synthetic fibers) and ammonia out of the air. This plant becomes more efficient at air purification as time passes.

  • English Ivy
    English Ivy makes a great addition to your office if you have employees with asthma or allergies. Within just a few hours of being placed in the building, it can get rid of air-based mold.

Cleaner air can improve employees’ moods and productivity.

7. Set an example with investments in green infrastructure

Creating a sustainable company requires action from both the top and from the employees who make up your base. Simple infrastructure additions like motion-sensitive light switches can help remind employees that you’re trying to save energy (and eliminate the last-one-out-hits-the-lights conundrum). Likewise, more significant investments like installing solar panels to capture the sun’s energy will make a strong statement that your company cares about preserving our planet’s resources.

What other ideas do you have to get employees involved in going green?


AvatarBrent Hardy

Brent Hardy manages sustainability programs for Extra Space Storage. The Santa Maria self storage facility has been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.