How to Encourage Sustainable Practices in Your Workplace

Whether you’re the business owner or an employee, using more sustainable practices at work isn’t always straightforward even if you are passionate about the environment. As a business owner, the practice still must work with your bottom line. As an employee, sometimes it can be difficult to persuade management or the owners to switch to more sustainable models. However, the tips below may help you with this change.

Keep a Practical, Positive Tone

If you are someone who cares a great deal about sustainability, it can sometimes seem so urgent that you feel frustrated when others don’t get it. As understandable as this is, giving into emotion won’t do you any favors as you try to persuade others to join you, and it could backfire on you. You don’t want to be known as that employee or owner who is always lecturing everyone about their wasteful behaviors. A better approach is an upbeat one that suggests concrete solutions with multiple benefits. Look at how changing a behavior can decrease costs, increase efficiency, or make someone’s job easier to do. Remember that your aim is to make your workplace better, not more stressful.

Know Industry Regulations

In some cases, the environmentally friendly regulations are there, and it’s important to make sure that they are maintained. These regulations might have to do with the amount of pollution an industry is allowed to release, or they may outline practices to keep toxic chemicals from entering the environment. When you’re trying to encourage compliance, look for ways to make that compliance easier on everyone. If you operate a government fleet in California, there are smog inspection requirements that you must adhere to. You can find out more about how telematics can reduce the time required for smog inspection and increase efficiency. A robust training program and checklists that employees can refer to are good tools for meeting any kind of compliance standards.

Identify Benefits for the Company

Even as businesses increasingly seek sustainability solutions, others may resist them because there is still a perception in some quarters that they are expensive. Some solutions require an initial outlay of money but will lead to savings in the long run. Others can reduce costs or increase efficiency. There’s also the issue of how your customer base views eco-friendly approaches. For some types of companies, this can be a big selling point with your customers. Be sure that the approaches you choose are genuinely sustainable and not what is often called greenwashing, the word used to describe actions touted by a company as being green, but which really have very little or no impact. This is a mistake that can backfire on you in the public eye.

Start Simply

You don’t have to solve every environmental problem today or even over the life of your company. In fact, if people at your workplace are resistant to sustainability solutions, you can start small. Eliminating as much paper as possible, for example, is a great way to introduce greener practices. No one is likely to object to having less paperwork to file or sitting on their desk. To streamline your paper reduction efforts, consider using electronic filing systems, which can help digitize and organize your documents efficiently. You might want to switch to alternative energy sources or change the company gas-powered vehicles to electric ones, but you can start by simply encouraging more energy-saving practices.

Turning off lights and shutting down computers when not in use and moving some meetings over to video instead of having people drive across town, or fly in for them, can help the planet and save money. If it’s in your company’s budget and you are in a city with good public transportation, you could partially subsidize transit passes for employees. Setting up recycling stations and encouraging people to use them is another easy way to introduce green concepts.

 Research Your Vendors

Finding out more about your vendors and selecting those who are also committed to sustainability is a great way to support others who have the same concerns and values that you do. If you’re the business owner, this is easy to do. If you’re an employee, you may need to gather additional reasons to promote the vendors that you would like to see your company doing business with, so find a way to highlight their virtues.


Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

Check out our Books!