GREENING THE OFFICE – GETTING PEOPLE TO BUY IN TO THE IDEA
Lets face it the steps to actually greening your office – reducing waste, recycling, energy efficiency and the rest are the easy part. How you get the whole office to participate is the question. If you are part of a Green Team, participation from the whole company and buy in from the top that helps motivate that participation are key.
Unless your company was founded with a green mandate (like Naked Binder), it can be harder to convince everyone to join in.
There are a few things we have found that help motivate on all sides.
For the Top.
At the risk of sounding cynical, companies are generally driven by the urge to succeed – that is, make money. So the Green initiatives need to be dealt with in a way that helps make that point to a company – this will help them succeed.
Point #1. Green saves money.
Recycling, reducing waste, using reusables, saving electricity – all of these things save money. Lets break it down.
Recycling. Waste management is a huge part of life in a company, especially manufacturing. Every process has waste. If you are paying someone to haul it to a landfill, you are losing money twice – first on having waste and second on hiring someone to get rid of it.
A bit of creative thinking here can go a long way. Does your product come in boxes that get thrown out? There are people who will come pick up for free in order to get the money to recycle it. One company pelletizes their paper waste to heat the building – no waste, no heating bills. Find out who wants what you have, or how to use what you have. “we always do it this way” is lazy thinking.
If you live in a state with money back for cans and bottles, either use that money for an employee appreciation fund or have a local school, shelter, non-profit, charity come pick up your cans and bottles to use the money for needs they have. (side benefits: PR worthy, community involvement, good feelings)
Point #2. Green is good for you image.
Corporations are big, impersonal, greedy and cruel – right? It may feel that way when you are wading through electronic phone mazes to ask about something or get something done. This is why so many people believe it. That is their experience with larger operations.
What happens if people hear is that you helped a local sports team by donating all of your bottles and cans to help them raise money? What if you lowered emissions making the surrounding community healthier? What if you planted a prairie? Trees? What if it were know that your company was striving to do good things for the community?
Everyone lives in the environment, so really we all care. When people feel warm and fuzzy about you, it is good for your business, publicity and that is good for the bottom line. Putting a human face (or green field) on your company can help in many ways.
For the great unwashed mass.
Once you have the go ahead from upstairs, now it is time to convince your co-workers to join in. Don’t be surprised if many look at you as a dangerous, tree hugging radical. People are resistant to change.
Point #3. It is fun.
Recycling and conserving can be a game. If teams are competing for generating the least waste, or using the least electricity you know people will get on board. People are driven to compete and genuinely enjoy it. So let them. Offer nice prizes.
Point #4. More people care than you know.
It isn’t like the recent weather anomalies around the world have gone unnoticed. People like to have unpolluted air to breathe, green fields and forests to walk in and clean water to drink. Stress that by doing small things in their everyday lives they can make a difference. Sure whether one piece of paper getting recycled seems insignificant, but if over a year your company saves a tree (one ton of paper recycled) or 10 trees might get some interest.
Greening your office can help to reduce the overall stress on the environment – your environment – as well as benefit your company. Whatever your personal motivations (my motivations tend to a selfish urge for clean air and water, wide open wild spaces and a planet worth living on for my kid and his (potential) kids).
Get going and motivate!