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How to be more sustainable in your office life ?

It is the year 2021 and by now most people have realised that small changes adopted by many people actually do make difference and many people do try to make that little bit of a difference in their private lives.

Others might still wonder just what they could do differently (without it being too much of a hassle, of course). In case you've got an office job, here are, in no particular order, a few ideas.

The applicability of these ideas may change slightly depending on the individual circumstances and whether you are an employee or the boss in your own (home)office and but they've got in common that they do make that little bit of a difference (without it being too much of a hassle, of course).

1. Turn off the light!

Of course you cannot work in the dark. But on average a lot of energy is wasted in lighting offices in which too few people work (or even no one at all). The same goes for corridors and bathrooms. So, if you are more or less alone in the office, turn off the ceiling lights and use your desk lamp in- stead. If you are on good terms with the boss, lobby for the installation of motion-sensor triggered lighting, at least in the bathrooms. Also, make sure the light bulbs are of the energy saving variety.

2. Go paperless!

Do you really need that print-out? Yes, you do need hard-copies of some documents but in general shorter articles, memos and such like don't need to be printed, you can read them on your computer screen. For internal use, recycled paper is certainly of sufficient quality.

3. Switch off your computer!

Unless you are running calculations overnight or your computer doubles up as the office server your computer does not to be switched on after working hours. Switch it off. If you want to go an extra mile, set your computer up in such a way that the screen switches off after a certain time of inactivity. If you don't know how to do that, ask the internet or a colleague. If you haven't got sufficient user rights to do it, ask the system administrator.

Also, if your office has got a little WiFi-router - switch it off over the weekend, it consumes about the same amount of energy as a small fridge!

4. Videocon?

For quite a while now but certainly ever since the corona pandemic video conferences are all the rage, a plethora of platforms have sprung up to help you give your presentations and to see your colleagues face to face. That's nice. But did you know that by switching off your camera you can reduce the car- bon footprint of your telecon by up to 96%. Of course if you conduct a job interview you want to see and to observe your candidates but for the every day office videocon it is good netiquette for the presenter to be visible and for the rest to switch off their camera - after all, you know what your colleagues look like.

5. The fridge?

It is probably OK to leave the fridge switched on during the weekend because cooling everything down again on Monday morning would cancel any savings made during the weekend. However, should you vacate your office for longer periods (holidays, Christmas, etc.) it might be a good idea to pull the plug (and don't forget to prop the door open!).

6. Tea/Coffee

Only boil up the amount of water you really need four your cup of tea/coffee. Heating water costs a lot of energy so being prudent and using only the right amount will make a sub- stantial difference. Also, boiling up the water for six cups of tea/coffee in one go is more efficient than boiling six cups of water individually.

7. Bring your own food

Yes, it is handy to pick up some sandwich at the little supermarket around the corner from your office but it is much more green to make your sandwiches at home and bring them in in a Tupper box as it reduces packaging waste. Also, picking up a coffee 'to-go' is far less green than brewing one in the office. If the coffee machine in your office runs on capsules, make sure they are collected and returned to the supplier.

8. Heating/Air conditioning

In winter, keep the temperature between, say, 19 and 21 °C. If you feel cold at such temperatures, put on a jumper. Heating the office to 25 °C just because you feel comfy in shorts and T-shirts is a huge waste of energy. Likewise, in summer, don't cool down the office to 18 °C (tempting as that may be, given the recent summers).

Whether cooling in summer or heating in winter - make sure the doors and windows are closed so that the heating or air conditioning unit can work efficiently. If you want to do a little extra, install weather strips (those little brush-like things often found at the bottom edge of doors to reduce draughts).

9. Take the stairs!

If you are in good physical shape (or would like to be) using the stairs instead of the lift is an excellent way of saving energy.


If you feel you haven't learned much from reading this article you are already on the right track. If you thought at least some of this was news to you then try to remember it next time.

Finally, pass this article on to others whom you think might benefit from reading it.


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