How to Create a Green Team at Work

Are you interested in making your business more eco-friendly? Then why not make your workplace a little greener? A good place to start is by creating a green team within your workplace! 

So, what exactly is a green team? A green team is a group of employees whose combined goal is to educate, empower and inspire colleagues to establish and promote environmentally sustainable practices within their organisation. Establishing a “green team” in an organisation is an inspiring way for companies to motivate employees and shift their strategies towards a more sustainable path, which is becoming increasingly important. In a time where both young professionals and experienced employees wish to find more meaning in their work, encouraging employees to create green teams, and work together to find new ideas in eliminating waste, creating improved designs and finding new efficiencies can be hugely beneficial, not only to our planet, but can also have a positive impact on employees and the organisation.

So how to go about making a green team in your place? We have some ideas we use here at Stroodles HQ that are really easy to implement! Keep on reading to find out more!

Image result for green team at work
Image: Medium

1. Start Small

If you’re starting a green team at work the first thing we’d suggest is starting small!

Some ideas to get you started:

  • Send extra food from company events and lunches home with employees or deliver the food to a local charity rather than throwing it away.​
  • Turn lights off in restrooms, conference rooms, libraries, and so forth when the room is not in use.​
  • Reusable shopping totes giveaways - eBay’s green team did this!
  • Encourage colleagues to pick one day a week where they will only eat vegetarian food.
  • Purchase paper with recycled content
  • Add a plant to your desk! (not only makes it more appealing to work at, but it also absorbs pollutants and emits oxygen!)
  • Encourage colleagues to use the stairs instead of the lift!



2. Recycle cans, bottles, newspapers, and magazines.​

 

Let’s be honest, it’s 2021 and it’s likely that no matter what size of business you work in, your office has some kind of recycling scheme in place. So, get educated on what you can and can’t recycle, and the best way to dispose of your rubbish, and then encourage others in your office to do the same!

 

Even better, if at all possible, why not attempt to go paperless? Nowadays, you really don’t need to print much. If your office tends to use a lot of paper for unnecessary means, why not suggest switching to paperless meetings (or at least printing double-sided to waste less!)

 

Another idea is to ban the use of paper cups. At Yahoo!, “Chuck the Cup” Day was held at four campuses to raise awareness about the environmental impact of using paper cups, highlighting the things employees can do to create a more sustainable workplace. A Green Team member, Kai Haley, calculated how many paper cups were consumed every 15 minutes (over 100) on the Yahoo! main campus and created hexagon domes out of thrown away cups. Along with providing incentives to encourage employees to bring their own mug, Yahoo! put the attention-getting sculptures on the main lawn along with signage to raise awareness.

 

Image result for recycling at workImage: AJ Products


3. Put your computer and printer on energy-saving settings when you know you'll be away from your desk for a while.​


Give your computer and the electricity at the office a well-deserved break! Our devices consume tons of energy, even when we're not using them! So, unplug your charger when you don’t need it, and put your computer on sleep or off mode when you’re not at your desk. Small adjustments - such as lowering your screen brightness, reducing the amount of tabs you have open, or even downsizing how many applications you use — can also save power, and be a lot kinder to our planet!


4. Encourage employees to recycle at home; provide a listing of recycling centers or reuse sites such as Freecycle.com.​


The idea of freecycling is to promote the three R's (Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle) by making it easy for people to give away their unwanted but reusable items to people who can use them. The way it works is that there are thousands of locally run, grassroots freecycling groups around the world. Once you find and join your local groups, you can post 'Offers' for items you want to give away, or 'Requests' for items you need. Why not educate your colleagues about freecycling, and do some research into your nearest groups?

 

Image result for freecycle


Encourage employees to not just recycle at work, but recycle at home too! Why not do some research on where the nearest recycling facilities are in your area, and send a list out to your colleagues?


5. Donate unwanted mobile phones to organisations such as Recellular, Inc., that will recycle, refurbish, and promote reuse to provide funding for charitable and environmental causes.​


Recellular, Inc. offers the recycling and reselling of used cellular phones and accessories. The company provides services in refurbishing, reusing, and recycling discarded cell phones. Why not encourage your colleagues to donate their unwanted mobile phones and electrical devices to organisations such as Recellular, and then donate the money to a charity that means something to your company, or of course to an environmental cause ?

 

6. Create campaign calendars


Come up with a 12 month campaign schedule to focus on different sustainability topics each month. For example you could dedicate January activities to recycling awareness and February to energy (i.e. Genentech employees formeda Kill-a-Watt Lending program that allows employees to measure their power consumption) and so on. Creating a campaign calendar promotes sub-committee groups spurring off to spearhead specific activities related to the monthly themes!



Establishing a green team at work is a win for the employer, the employees, and the world environment that sustains us all! Having a green team in an organisation not only increases employee engagement, but it also helps to focus more minds on tackling tough problems and coming up with creative solutions, thereby gaining more buy-in from employees and creating a stronger culture of sustainability, which of course also has a huge positive impact on our planet. Today,
 as
 sustainability and ways to become more “green”
 becomes
 more
 mainstream,
 a
 growing
 number
 of
 employees
 want
 to
 work
 for
 companies that are committed
 to
 sustainability
 and
 seek
 a
 job where
 the
 green
 practices
 they
 value
 at home 
are
 being 
implemented
 at
 the 
office.


Hopefully after reading this blog post you now have a better understanding of what a green team is, and how to create one at work, even if it is just by starting with the small things such as encouraging colleagues to use the stairs instead of always using the lift! Mr. Stroodles loves to hear from you all, so if you do use any of the ideas we’ve spoken about above to help your green team get started, please do let us know!


Still looking for inspiration? Then why not check these companies out - they have created a culture of green teams within their workplace:

 

1. eBay has a green team that has thousands of members worldwide. The team started out at the San Jose location and has expanded globally with members from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia. The effort has sparked eBay's employee engagement as many employees welcomed the opportunity to gather, discuss, and learn about environmental issues.

Some key activities the eBay Green Team has sponsored include:

  • Preferred parking for hybrid vehicles
  • Reusable shopping totes giveaways
  • A Funky Mug contest, in which employees brought in unwanted mugs from home and voted for their favourite.
  • Banning 
plastic water 
bottles 
on 
campus
  • Engaging
 employees
 in
 a
 low
 carbon
 diet
 campaign
  • Planting
 community 
gardens
  • Hosting 
Earth 
Day and had a 
Bike 
to 
Work 
Week



2. In 2003, Genentech employees formed the Green Genes group to help the company go green. A third of Genentech’s employees participate in Green Genes, making it one of our largest employee clubs.

With their Sustainability Suggestion website, the team is harvesting ideas from the entire company to capture ideas that may improve Genentech's environmental performance. The team will then do research to prioritize the ideas, and facilitate the process to link the viable ideas to internal environmental programs.

Key activities include:

  • Projects that work to reduce energy and water consumption and waste generation
  • Community service events like beach clean-ups
  • a Kill-a-Watt Lending program that allows employees to measure their power consumption
  • Educational and fun monthly speaker series and regular movie nights focusing on sustainable practices.

Image result for genentech green teamImage: Gene

Over the years, Green Genes’ focus on environmentalism has created broad changes in the company, including the expansion of composting and water and energy conservation programs. Green Genes has also spearheaded multiple landfill-reduction initiatives including a textile recycling drive, pen recycling, food waste minimization and encouraging employees to opt for reusable china instead of disposables in our cafeteria. Green Genes also strives to educate Genentech’s employees on global sustainability efforts.


3. Intel,
 with
 over
 80,000
 employees
 at
 300
 facilities,
 has
 7
 or
 8
 informal
 sanctioned
 employee
 green teams.


Intel’s
 green
 team
 helped
 launch
 a
 program
 that
 offers
 Community
 Supported
 Agriculture
 (CSA) programs
 to
 employees,
 allowing
 them
 to
 easily
 access
 locally
 grown
 food.


They
 offer
 speakers
 and educational
 forums,
 composting
 in
 cafeterias
 and
 are
 piloting
 Carbonrally,
 a
 web‐based
 activism platform
 that 
challenges 
users 
to
 reduce 
their 
personal 
carbon
 footprints. 
Participating 
employees 
will be
 able
 to 
make 
individual
 pledges
 for
 reduction
in
 their
 work
 and
 office
 environments,
 helping
 Intel meet
 its 
greenhouse
 gas 
reduction 
goals.

 

4. At
 Yahoo!
 a
 senior
 marketing 
manager,
 voluntarily
 took
 on
 the
 role
 of
 employee
 green
 team 
group 
leader.

Their
 initial
 efforts 
were 
more 
ad
hoc, 
focused
 on 
green 
solutions
 in
 the 
work
place. 
About
 350 
employees 
are
 part
 of
 their
 Yahoo!
 green
 group
 with
 10
 to
 20
 people
 acting
 as
 champions
 for
 specific
 projects,
 including:

  • A
 speaker
series
  • Chuck
 the 
Paper
 Cup, 
a 
campaign 
to 
reduce
 paper 
cup 
use
  • Implementing
 an 
e‐waste 
recycling 
campaign