Image by raw pixel from Pixabay

More and more people are becoming aware of the impact their lifestyle has on society and the environment and are starting to take action at home adopting more “responsible” attitudes and actions such recycling, eating organic food, reducing meat consumption or working towards zero waste. 

However, when it comes to our workplaces and jobs, we continue doing “business as usual” as if action for a more sustainable way of working was out of our reach or responsibility of the HR department of CSR folks. 

However, our impact at work is not neglectable not only through our “work lifestyle” (the coffee we drink in disposable cups, the type of food we eat at the canteen, the way we come to work …) but also through our jobs:

  • the way we design products, services (reparable versus short-lived…)
  • packaging and other promotional material (recycled paper, glossy “one way” point-of-sale materials… ) 
  • the way we work (printing, intense airplane travel… ) 

“Employees who say they have the opportunity to make a direct social and environmental impact through their job report higher satisfaction levels than those who don’t. In fact, employees who say they can make an impact while on the job report greater satisfaction than those who can’t by a 2:1 ratio.”

(UPS, Net Impact Talent Report: What Workers Want in 2012 Survey) 

Below are 5 simple and easy “Sustainability hacks” every busy and motivated employees can adopt to be more responsible also at work.

  1. Reduce your commute “footprint” 

Discussing with a friend who works at a big corporation at the Paris periphery, she was voicing her outrage over the effects of generalized company car benefits: her colleagues (living a few tube stations away from work) come to work by car, impacting daily traffic jams and the city’s air pollution. 

According to UN environment, 92% of people worldwide do not breathe clean air and air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs

Use public transport, or if that’s a hassle (and you hate the crowds), look for car-pooling opportunities or negotiate home office or remote working, which increases efficiency and productivity.

  • Tip: why don’t you make your commute fun, a way to be fitter by using your bike, skateboard or similar or a time for learning and growth? Personally, I love biking but most often I walk and use the tube, so I listen to my favorite music or to inspiring videos or podcasts. 


2. Print less!

This is a classic but I am surprised how this apparently simple habit still seems to be hard to change! If you cannot work paper free, try reducing your paper use by changing your printer default settings to recto verso and greyscale. Last but not least, when you don’t need that piece of paper anymore, give it a second life and recycle it! If there’s “company confidential” info on it, shred it before recycling. 

  • Tip: get rid of your individual waste bin so you will be forced to take a walk to the recycling bin! 😉


3. Use reusable kitchen wear

Another classic that has a hard time finding its way into companies! Even this morning I saw a lady smoking outside her office and drinking a coffee out of a disposable plastic cup… Same goes for water bottles. 

According Greenpeace, humans throw 1 truck of garbage into the oceans every minute. Even if you think this will not happen to your plastic bottle because your company and city recycles, just have a look at nature around you (bushes, trees, rivers) you will easily see plastic waste! 

Picture credit: Marena Eirich on Instagram, river Seine in Paris


Be part of the movement and break free from plastic at work by using reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, water glasses and cutlery! 

  • Tip: get a mug or bottle you love! Personally, I love my Yoda mug reminding me daily that the force is with me. 😉 And my glass bottle by Dora’s reminds me to “take time to do what makes your soul happy”. 
Picture credit: Marena Eirich, reusable glass water bottle by Dora’s


4. Use less data space

While going paperless saves trees, using a lot of electronics and data can be detrimental to the environment, too as we consume a lot of energy to keep our servers “cool”.

While “internet giants like Apple, Facebook and Google have committed to sourcing 100 per cent of their energy from renewables, reducing waste and improving their energy efficiency”, you can add take action by erasing emails and documents on the cloud or drive you really don’t need anymore (and that you don’t need to keep for legal or other reasons), liberating space and using less energy to stock that data. 


5. Use a purpose driven search engine 

While Google is a great tool and has added many benefits to our lives, there are now alternative (and well performing) search engines available that help you “do good” while you search. 

Ecosia for example plant trees and empower local communities through reforestation thanks to your searches. Every search with Ecosia actually removes about 1 kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. This means that, if Ecosia were as big as Google, it could absorb 15% of all global CO2 emissions. Personally, I am proud to have helped plant 36 trees so far. 🙂

  • Tip: Make it your default setting when opening your browser to be sure to use it and download the app on your phone. 

Oh! And if you know the URL of what you are looking for, don’t search, type it directly into your browser! 😉 To know more, read this article about the cost of your search.

Leave a comment below with 3 specific examples of simple actions you have taken or will take at work to be more “sustainable”.

If you want more ideas on how to take simple action for Sustainability at work (even if you don’t have a lot of time), check out this free workbook.

Please like and share these hacks with your friends!

The more we are to adopt these Sustainability hacks at work, the better for our planet! 


Written by Marena Eirich, founder of teams4purpose®. My mission is to make action on Sustainability accessible to employees. 

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