With attention greatly focused on climate change and our collective impact on the environment, it has never been more important for businesses of every size to commit to sustainability. While some of these are more obvious than others—conserving energy by turning off lighting, heating, and air conditioning when not in use, for instance—one area that often goes overlooked is your workplace’s cleaning regime.
In this article, we examine seven sustainable cleaning practices that you can easily integrate into the day-to-day running of your office. But first, it’s important to understand what we mean by a sustainable office and how adopting an eco-friendly approach can benefit your business.
What is a sustainable office?
Simply put, a sustainable office refers to any workplace that seeks to reduce the unnecessary depletion of natural resources through the promotion of environmental awareness and best practices. Sustainable offices aim to avoid wasting energy, minimise the accumulation of non-recyclable rubbish, and limit the use of chemicals and substances that have an adverse impact on the environment.
Benefits of a Sustainable Office
There are many advantages to running a sustainable office. Naturally, the main benefit is that you reduce your company’s carbon footprint and any negative effect it has on the local ecosystem. For many businesses, that is the core reason for adopting a sustainable office environment, which is laudable. However, the act of doing so delivers several auxiliary advantages.
These days, many consumers are concerned about the environment. They want to do business with companies that share their ideals, and they are not shy about voting with their wallets. Businesses that are committed to sustainability and adopting a net-zero carbon footprint are much sought-after. If you can demonstrate your green credentials with serious action, you can attract that client base in greater numbers.
A sustainable office is also beneficial to your staff. For the most part, people achieve greater job satisfaction working for companies that care, and environmental issues are a key concern for many workers.
By choosing to work with partners that share your commitment to green issues, you can create a domino effect. Hiring firms that also demonstrate an eco-friendly approach to business means that sustainable workplaces become more appealing as a corporate decision as well as a moral one.
If those weren’t reasons enough to adopt a sustainable office model, consider the financial implications. Reducing energy consumption, removing the need to dispose of toxic materials, and choosing to recycle wherever possible can result in significant savings for your firm.
7 simple ways to introduce sustainable cleaning to your office
1. Use eco-friendly cleaning products
Perhaps the easiest way to adopt sustainable office cleaning practices lies in your choice of cleaning products. There are so many on the market that it can be a daunting experience deciding which are best for you, your workplace, and, most of all, the environment.
Fortunately, there are several ways to zero in on the right products. Most eco-friendly cleaning materials have their green credentials advertised on their packaging since they know it’s an important consideration for consumers. When ordering cleaning supplies for your office, keep an eye out for the following key words and phrases on the label:
- green cleaning
As well as identifying cleaning products that are good for the environment, it’s important that you and your purchasing team understand which ingredients are harmful so that you can avoid them. Certain chemicals are not only bad for the local ecosystem, but they can also pose a risk to your staff and office visitors.
Some common cleaning ingredients have been shown to cause irritation to the skin and lungs, which can be dangerous if anyone in your office suffers from dermatological or respiratory issues. As a general rule of thumb, try to avoid cleaning products that contain the following ingredients:
2. Invest in sustainable equipment
Of course, it’s not just your choice of cleaning products that can have an impact on the environment. The type of equipment you use during the cleaning process can also be a factor.
Modern cleaning equipment is designed with sustainability in mind. There are many devices that only need water to produce an effective cleaning solution, forgoing the need for harsh chemical cleansers entirely. Automatic cleaning machines can also reduce waste as they operate on a specific cycle, helping you maximise energy efficiency.
Speaking of energy use, be sure to invest in cleaning equipment that has a good energy rating. These machines are used on a daily basis, so purchasing an energy-efficient model can make a significant difference in your energy costs.
Other equipment choices can also limit your company’s environmental impact. Where products can be used by staff or your cleaning team (liquid soap in the toilets, washing-up liquid in the kitchen, hand-sanitiser at reception, and so on), be sure to use automated dispensers that provide a suitable amount with each use. People often tend to overestimate how much of a particular cleaning product they need when using a free-standing container, resulting in unnecessary waste.
3. Monitor and optimise energy and water usage
Cleaning your workplace requires the use of water and energy in most cases, since commercial cleaning services often involve heavy-duty equipment to get the job done. There are, however, many ways to ensure that those resources aren’t wasted. Purchasing energy-efficient cleaning equipment may require a large outlay of capital, but it will pay for itself in the long run.
Likewise, you should instruct your staff to turn off taps when not in use to reduce water waste during the cleaning process. Some modern cleaning appliances can use grey water (water that has been used for cleaning dishes, for instance) for steam cleaning floors and carpets with no loss of quality.
4. Recycle as you go
Most offices create a lot of recyclable waste in the course of a normal working day. From paper documents and packaging to aluminium cans and plastic bottles from the vending machine, it soon builds up. You should set up a bank of recycling containers at key points around the office—one for each of the main recyclable materials—and encourage your staff to deposit their waste in the appropriate receptacles.
A key consideration in recycling projects is getting staff used to dropping off recyclable materials as they use them. By getting them into the habit, it soon becomes second nature to take any paper, plastic, or aluminium with them the next time they pass the containers. Where this behaviour is not encouraged, employees tend to let waste build up on their desks or choose to dump it all in a general waste bin at the end of the day because it’s easier.
5. Avoid using paper towels
People think that paper towels in the kitchen or toilet areas are a good thing since they are often made from recycled paper. While this is true, the towels themselves cannot be recycled after use since they will be either wet or dirty and fit only in the general waste bin.
Alternative arrangements should be made, such as scourers, sponges, and tea towels for washing, drying, and cleaning up in the kitchen, and either hand dryers or a fabric towel roll for the office bathrooms. All of these are either multi-use or can be washed, dried, and used again, both of which are better for the environment.
You should also consider replacing any single-use plastic items with multi-use alternatives. For instance, reusable plastic spray bottles that you can refill with a cleaning solution are better for the environment than buying a similar product in its own bottle each time it runs out. Many quality cleaning materials are available in tablet form, where you simply add water to get a full spray bottle’s worth.
6. Train and engage your employees
However committed you are as a business owner or office manager to sustainability, it can only work if your staff is also on board. This is why it’s so important to educate your team on the benefits of eco-friendly cleaning practices.
You should try to create a culture of environmental responsibility among all employees, where staff can feel a part of the process. Posting recycling targets and energy consumption goals will give staff something to aim for. Initiating recognition schemes for your team to propose new eco-friendly ideas is another great way to encourage involvement.
7. Partner with a cleaning company that matches your sustainability goals
While there is much that you and your staff can do to provide an eco-friendly cleaning regimen for your workplace, most sustainable offices outsource their cleaning duties to a third-party company. This is where you can really make a difference.
Many companies will seek to hire a company that offers exceptional value for money. However, those that are committed to a sustainable workplace will look to balance any financial savings with working with a cleaning partner that shares their dedication to protecting the environment.
Any modern cleaning company will be happy to demonstrate their green credentials to you following your initial inquiry. They should be prepared to show you the cleaning products that they use as well as any specialist cleaning equipment that they bring to your office.
There are various sustainability certificates that a company can attain by proving its commitment to eco-friendly policies. If you’re looking for a cleaning provider that you can trust to deliver sustainable office cleaning services, you would expect them to have achieved at least one of these.
Sustainable Cleaning Practices: Final Thought
If you’re in need of a reliable and environmentally responsible cleaning partner for your sustainable office in Hertfordshire, look no further than Scott & Sons. With over 35 years in the industry, we are a name you can trust for all your cleaning needs. We provide bespoke commercial cleaning services, including office cleaning, and are open and transparent about the products and techniques that we employ.
Call today on 0808 196 0772 to see what we can do for you.