11 activities to boost sustainability in the workplace

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Don’t just tell your employees to switch off the lights. Catherine Rubbens shares how to embed sustainability in the workplace and demonstrate that One Planet Living is a better way to live

In the first part of this blog series, I outlined six steps for engaging employees with sustainability. Now, I want to share some specific activities you can run to support your sustainability efforts. All workplaces are different so some may not apply, but many are easy to adapt.

Host a movie lunch

Seeing is believing and a short film can be a lot more engaging than a list of facts. The Story of Stuff has some great 20-min videos on a range of topics.

Add some snacks and time for discussion!

Lunchtime (pub) quiz

A light-hearted way to learn some serious facts. There are loads of questions you could use on EarthShare.

Make up for the lack of the traditional alcohol (or don’t – we’re not judging) with some snacks – and a good prize for the winning team.

Theme things

We (and some of our partners) use the One Planet Principles as themes for fun, monthly activities. This can be a good way to keep things fresh and demonstrate the diversity of action that can be taken.

Check out how One Planet Community Singita Serengeti boosted wellbeing in the workplace and the activities from our ‘health and happiness’ month.

Bake off

One of the most popular One Planet activities we’ve run was our local and sustainable ‘bake off’. Our staff were asked to bring in a baked good (savoury or sweet) that was then judged on two criteria:

  • Taste (self-explanatory)
  • Sustainable credentials eg local, free-range, fairtrade or organic ingredients, vegetarian, using leftovers, reduced sugar

Set up a sharing library

Clear a few shelves and invite your colleagues to bring in books and DVDs they’re happy to share – saving money, minimising waste and generating conversation.

Act local

Part of becoming a more sustainable company includes thinking about your relationships with the local community. Look at supporting your staff to volunteer once a year for a local project.

Business in the Community found that 82% of employees reported feeling more committed to their employer after taking part in a volunteering scheme.

Eat your greens

Host a meat-free Monday or put on an all-veggie spread at an event. Explain why reducing meat consumption is better for your health, the planet and your pocket.

According to Meat-Free Day, a company of 500 people going veggie for one day is the carbon-saving equivalent of six return flights from London to Zurich.

Bike to work

Ease the strain on your car park by making it easier for your employees to cycle to work. This could be providing more bike storage, access to showers or lockers or signing up to the Cycle to Work scheme.

Recent research also reveals cyclists cost employers up to half as much as their non-cycling colleagues in lost working hours each year.

Cut the car(bon)

It’s not feasible for everyone to cycle or use public transport. But you can encourage greener solutions like car-sharing and car clubs and look at installing electric car-charging points (the government provides financial support).

If you provide company cars, offer more environmentally friendly options. Walk (or drive…) the talk!

Meditate this

The health impacts of stress are worrying. Be a workplace with a difference and support your staff to meditate at work. It can help people to relax, focus better and increase productivity – so you’ll benefit too.

Brilliant blogs

We know that organisations are always on the lookout for great content to share. Once your sustainability activities are underway, consider asking for a few blogs from employees about what they’ve enjoyed and what they’ve learned. Make sure you share anything newsworthy with local and national press too.

One Planet Company Cundall has shared some great pieces about its sustainability efforts, from bee-keeping to meat-free meals

Read Part one: Six steps for engaging employees with sustainability to learn more about sustainability in the workplace and employee engagement.  

You can keep up-to-date with our how we embed sustainability in the workplace  on Twitter and Facebook – or tell us about your activities! Learn more about One Planet Living.

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