Resolve to Make an Impact at Work in 2015

If your New Year’s resolution is to make a difference, why not start at work?

Compost, Trash, Recycle

A majority of us say we’d be more satisfied if we had a job where we could make a social or environmental impact on the world. A recent study shows Millennials especially see businesses as potential partners in helping them make the world a better place.

No matter your title or department, or if it’s just you working in your home office, you can help make your workplace a little greener and reduce the emissions that are contributing to climate change.

Here are 8 steps to consider giving a try:

  1. Find out if there are sustainable activities already happening at work. Talk to co-workers, HR folks, or a sustainability manager to see if there are any existing initiatives you can join.
  2. Take a second look at in-person meetings. Travel is one of the largest sources of carbon emissions for companies of all sizes. Replacing a meeting with phone or video conferencing also can save time and money and increase productivity. If travel is a must, look for direct flights. Other ideas: buy carbon offsets, or ask for a hybrid rental car.
  3. Ask to telework instead of going into the office. Not driving just once a week saves fuel, reducing emissions. (The National Institutes of Health offers a telework calculator to estimate savings.)  Other ways to lessen the impact of your commute: rideshare or bike to work.
  4. Ask your office to purchase reusable coffee mugs, glasses, plates, and silverware for the office kitchen or bring in your own instead of using disposable items.
  5. Save money and reduce emissions by replacing bottled water with a tap filter, such as Pur or Brita. (Brita says one filter replaces 300 plastic bottles, saving $45 a month). If your office uses Keurig K-Cup packs, consider joining the Grounds to Grow On program that responsibly recycles the packs. Both steps keep plastic from piling up at the landfill.
  6. Activate the power management features on your computer and monitor, unplug laptop power cords when not in use, and turn off equipment and lights at the end of the day.To maximize power savings, set computers to enter standby mode after 15 to 20 minutes of inactivity. Power management features could save you $50 per computer annually. Also, be sure to properly dispose of electronics like computers once they are no longer useful.
  7. Find out if your company has done a waste assessment. If not, see if they would be willing. An assessment helps identify ways to reduce wastes and improve waste management, including reuse, material exchanges, recycling, and composting. WasteWise, run by the Environmental Protection Agency, has 1,700 partners that report huge savings -- more than 120 million tons of waste reduced.
  8. Join a Green Team at work – or start one – to look at ways to reduce environmental impacts, improve sustainability, communicate best practices, and coordinate company education or volunteer programs. You could even challenge your green team members to pledge to take simple energy- and money-saving steps that could save each of you $400 a year and prevent the release annually of more than 4,800 pounds of carbon dioxide.

After all your hard work, don’t forget to share your accomplishments! See if your sustainability efforts can be included in a newsletter or posted on your company intranet. Your experience might spark a wakeup call for others looking to make a little more of an impact at work, too.