It's easy to understand, why the notion of "saving the planet" is so widely misunderstood. A phrase carrying that heavy a connotation, is more than likely to give a layman the false impression that it's a mammoth of a task. And as the sequence goes, this fallacy leads a large segment of the world population to not do anything at all, simply because they believe their solitary efforts wouldn't be of much use when the planet we need to save is occupied by about 7 billion more humans.
Now, let's take a minute to zoom out from our vantage point. If we consider the domino effect of one human's behaviour influencing at least that of 3 more, it becomes starkly clear that a majority of the world population is shirking the responsibility of helping the Earth. So essentially, an individual's perception of trying to save the planet as being a futile attempt tends to compound, ultimately leading to several people thinking that they can't make a difference, so they might as well not try.
But the truth is, you can make a difference. And that difference is equally likely to compound, as the resistance to being eco-friendly. Like several activists and environment experts have reiterated time and again, being sustainable and environmentally friendly isn't a massive undertaking that you finish at one go. Instead, it's a series of small, minor changes in your everyday life, the benefits of which continue to multiply, eventually helping the planet in significant ways.
This is particularly true in the case of a workplace, where it's easy to influence the behaviour of several people at once. An act as simple and effortless, as putting a recycling bin near your desk, can lead several more employees sitting around you, to be mindful about separating their waste. So if helping the environment is an agenda you feel strongly about but are yet to take tangible action, your office is an ideal place to start!
To help you save the planet, right from your desk in the office, here are 20 eco-friendly things you can do at work.
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1. Avoid unnecessary printing and save paper by using digital documents to the maximum possible extent. If you mandatorily need hard copies, make it a point to print on both sides of a paper.
2. Carpool with coworkers living in and around the same place as you. If you don't know anybody who does, send out an e-mail inviting interested people to commute together in one car, instead of using 5 different vehicles to come to work.
3. Carry your own cutlery every day, and while ordering food for lunch instruct the restaurant service to not send any plastic spoons, forks or paper.
4. Carry a reusable water bottle and keep a coffee mug at your desk, instead of using multiple plastic cups to drink water or coffee at work.
5. Switch your search engine. Certain new search engines have made it a point to engage in actions that are environment-friendly. For instance, Ecosia.org plants trees across the world with every search query that the engine receives.
6. Don't keep your laptop or phone charger plugged in when you don't need to use it. Limit the use of electricity in the office to essential situations.
7. If your office turns into the Arctic during summer months, switch off the AC when it's sufficiently cool instead of letting it run all day.
9. If you come across any instances of electricity being wasted, take on the responsibility of turning the devices off. For instance, if you see the lights and AC unnecessarily on in an unoccupied meeting room, take the initiative and switch them off.
10. Put up a clearly labelled recycle dustbin at a frequented spot in the office. Encourage your co-workers to throw recyclable material like paper cups, and tissues into that bin.
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11. Avoid getting more stationary unless you really need it. 5 different colours of post-it notes may look aesthetically appealing, but ultimately you are wasting a lot more paper than you really need to. In fact, avoid post-its all together and get yourself a notebook!
12. If you're stepping out of the office for a longish break, switch off your laptop instead of leaving it on standby mode. Unplug the charger as well.
13. Lower your screen brightness. Not only will your laptop consume less energy, but it's also better for your eyes!
14. Avoid using the elevator if climbing up the stairs is a possibility. You will be conserving a lot of energy, along with getting some much-needed workout into your hectic office schedule.
15. Avoid using more paper towels in the office washroom than you need to, simply because they're available. Better yet, carry your own handkerchief to wipe your hands.
16. Keep some indoor plants on your desk, and wherever allowed in the office as natural air filters. Not only is this practice great from an environment-friendly perspective, but it also makes for calming office decor.
17. Use natural light as far as possible. If your office and coworkers allow, open the blinds and switch off power-consuming overhead lights.
18. Upcycle old boxes and containers as storage solutions for your office files, folders and belongings.
19. If you're a smoker, buy a lighter and refill the fluid when it's empty, instead of buying a new one every time and adding to the accumulation of non-biodegradable plastic waste. Better yet, stick to matchboxes.
20. Collect a bowl of wasted food from the office canteen at the end of the day, and feed the stray animals around your workplace.
You'd be amazed at how some minute changes in your general lifestyle, can go a long way in helping our planet's health. Here are some more simple ways to save the Earth, to bring out the environmentalist in you!