At a time when the earth’s well-being seems more on-the-line than ever before, businesses and individuals alike are wondering what they can do to make a change to help protect this beautiful world in which we live. Most of us desire sustainable change, but is what we are doing enough? What are the daily sustainable practices we can incorporate into our coworking spaces to do our part in caring for the earth?
Perhaps the primary reason we don’t make more earth-friendly decisions is because of convenience. We love and take pride in efficiency, and there’s little we can do to change that. Efficiency and convenience are valuable and often needed in a work setting, but revisiting this mindset may be necessary to make progress.
Sometimes we are also unwilling to compromise our budget to make the better purchase. There is a tendency to believe that earth-friendly products and practices are expensive. However, if we shift our perspective, we may realize that making a choice that is better for the environment can actually save money – if we REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE, REPAIR, RE-PURPOSE and ROT (compost).
Here are some ways you can make your coworking space more green:
- Divert waste (trash, recycling, compost)! Educate members on how to sort recyclable products. Keep a compost bucket with a lid in the kitchen for coffee grounds, tea bags, and produce waste. Coordinate to drop it off at a community garden or local farm!
- Use minimal and simple cleaning products. Doing so is better for the environment, for you, and can even reduce storage space. A 1:1 ratio of water and vinegar is sufficient to clean almost anything! Add a few drops of essential oil for a pleasing scent.
- Provide a set of dishware, glasses, mugs, and silverware for members to use. Spending a lot of money is not necessary. Buying random dishes from a thrift store is another way to be resourceful! Encourage members to wash their own dishes after use. This one may be more difficult than it sounds (and many of you already know that).
- Use real towels instead of paper towels. This is a trickier one as most spaces do not have a washer and dryer on site. However, if a space manager or member is willing to take a few hand towels home to wash, it may be worth it.
- Eat at restaurants instead of getting carry out containers! Eating at a restaurant saves on plastic and styrofoam to-go containers, cups, silverware, and straws (which are usually not recyclable anymore).
- Provide a member discount to those who walk, bike, carpool, or take public transportation to work.
- Organize earth-friendly activities for your members. We love that Splash Coworking does a river clean-up and sells the items found in the river (lots of sunglasses) in a small store in their coworking space!
- Host and promote speakers and events who are already making a positive environmental impact in your community. Choosing topics and themes related to the environment and sustainability can be great for raising awareness!
- Offer reusable bags with your coworking space name on them. Not only could this potentially save thousands of plastic bags from entering landfills, but it’s a great marketing tool!
- Designate a cabinet for members to leave their own travel mug at the office to minimize take-out coffee cups. Disposable cups from the coffee shop are often not recyclable or compostable depending on where you live.
- Provide reusable cups and water from the tap or a water cooler at your events rather than giving out plastic water bottles.
- Install or convert your toilets to low-flow toilets and make the change to energy-efficient lighting.
- If you are constructing or remodeling your space, incorporate sustainable features into the design and infrastructure of your space like our friends over at Green Spaces, the nation’s first eco coworking space with a 100% solar powered building with a focus on zero waste!
We realize that considering your members’ needs and wants is a high priority, and often these may conflict with your efforts to be more sustainable. Finding a balance may be necessary. Consider going the direction that many companies are going and having items (water bottles, straws, plastic bags) available “upon request”, thus limiting the number of items that wind up in a landfill if they are readily handed out.
What kind of earth-friendly changes are you making or can you make in your coworking space? In honor of Earth Day, we challenge you to find one small thing you can do in your coworking space this spring to show that you love the planet! Let’s gather together as communities to make things happen.