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How to make sustainable habits second nature in your business

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Wasting resources in the workplace is harmful to the environment and can cost your business – up to 4% of a business’ annual turnover goes on waste caused by employees. However, with a few simple steps you can start to claw back some of this lost potential – which might mean saving your business between £400 and £1,000 per employee (according to sustainability experts at the Waste Resources Action Programme) – as well as becoming far more sustainable.

There are many easy ways to start cutting the amount of waste in your business, but to have a real impact you should try to get your colleagues on board. Some of it’s about encouraging people to become more sustainably-minded, but you can also promote a waste-conscious culture at work by thinking about the products you buy, to make being eco-friendly in the workplace feel like second nature.

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Reducing the workplace waste-line
Before you put your sustainability plan into action, it’s a good idea to get feedback from your staff members – find out what they actually think. Use team meetings or surveys to discover some of the most common barriers to reducing waste – and to gather some good ideas at the same time – before making some actionable practices.

What’s in it for them?
Once you’ve settled on a few targets – maybe reducing the amount of paper you use, for example – it’s a good idea to measure the effectiveness of your plan. Put a monthly chart in the kitchen showing how the company's paper waste is going down, perhaps, or run a competition for the most eco-friendly and energy-efficient team. People like to see that what they’re doing makes a difference.

Using less, wasting less, recycling more
Making double-sided printing a must can really drive down your paper use. You could get your IT department to help make double-sided a default on all printers. Another way of discouraging wasteful printing is to take away all under-desk bins – perhaps with a bit of warning. You could even go one step further and replace all bins with recycling-only stations dotted around your office.

Refills, not pens
Plastic pens almost define our throwaway culture – but the main plastic components of the pen can be reused again and again if you use a refill. Ordering new pens in much smaller quantities, not leaving boxes of them openly available in stationery cupboards and getting employees to ask for a refill when theirs runs out is a great way to show that you’re serious about not wasting plastic.

Recycled pens
At some point you will have to buy some new pens, of course – but even they could be used to reinforce your workplace’s sustainable ways. The new Begreen range of pens by Pilot are made from recycled plastic water bottles, a fact that’s reflected in their chunky design.

Reversing the tide of waste in your business makes financial as well as sustainable sense. By being clear with your employees about why you’re taking action, then making it easy for them to follow the new rules, you’ll soon have everyone singing from the same hymn-sheet (printed double-sided on recycled stock, of course).

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