Last Updated on August 8, 2023
I’m making a case for why you should consider creating a green team at work to make your workplace a little more sustainable!
A green team consists of a group of employees who are actively engaged in advancing sustainability at work at a company-wide level. Your green team will be responsible for finding creative solutions to environmental problems within your specific workplace. With some teamwork, sustainable workplaces are totally achievable, regardless of your industry. Your sustainability team can consider my 15 ideas to get your company moving in the right direction.
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your green team
The best part about having a green team at work is bouncing ideas off each other. Your sustainability team can brain storm ideas together, then expand and build off those ideas to full-fledged projects that might completely overhaul your current processes.
Plus, with more people to collaborate with, there’s a higher chance of green changes being made in the company. It’s easy to ignore one person trying to push a green initiative. It’s a whole lot harder to silence an entire group of people who are invested in sustainability at work.
Here’s how to create a green team at work.
gather your sustainability team
In order to begin, you need a group of people willing to make change happen, right?
Start out by collecting a group of individuals in your company who have expressed interest in the topic of green living or sustainability.
Ideally, it would be fantastic to have one member of the team be from the executive staff – this way you have access to the management team so progress can be made quickly.
The size of the group can vary, but ideally, it shouldn’t exceed 12 people.
This number might be small for very large organizations, but it’s difficult to get things accomplished if there are too many people weighing in their opinions. In this case, the smaller the better!
Besides having a member from the executive staff, you should also have members from different divisions of your organization.
Having one person from human resources, sales, accounting, manufacturing, operations, etc. is a really good idea.
You can designate these members, but it’s best to get volunteers because those people will be the most passionate and engaged in making your green team work.
sustainable workplaces start with a plan
Once you have a good group in place, decide how many times you’ll meet. Establishing commitment and meeting times is vital to actually seeing anything through.
There should be a strong sense of commitment from everyone in the group to show up and take the team seriously.
Also, the executive team must commit to reviewing the suggestions with the intention to take action.
This is why it’s really beneficial to have a member of the executive staff – the last thing you want is every idea your team comes up with being rejected by management.
Your team should meet on a regular basis – monthly basis is a good place to start.
You can also have year-end and year-beginning celebrations to boost morale and set green goals.
Think of it like your office’s New Year’s Resolutions!
assess your company, set goals and get creative:
Your first meeting should be about discussing where your company currently stands in terms of being green.
What is your company already doing that may be considered “green”? Where are there areas for improvement?
It may help to define what “green” even is to your team members so you’re all on the same page.
Explain that there are different facets to being green, such as reducing waste, energy conservation, reducing water waste, etc.
After you assess where your company stands, it’s time to make a list of goals you want to accomplish this year.
ideas for more sustainability at work
Here are some ideas you may want to pitch:
- Get compost bins on the site
- Promote better recycling habits in the office
- Encourage zero waste habits within the company
- Get real mugs for the coffee room
- Reduce paper usage in the office
- Setup a “free” box for used books in the employee lounge
- Hand out reusable totes, straws, water bottles, cutlery, or travel mugs to employees
- Create a blog or newsletter about sustainability you can share with employees
- Pick up litter around the company’s building area
- Start an environmental tip of the week in the company’s email or to share in meetings
- Host a green living event to boost environmental awareness within the company
- Reduce energy
- Extend product durability
- Reduce packaging waste
- Increase the amount of recycled content in the products your company sells
Some of these suggestions may not apply to your company like if your company doesn’t create physical products.
However, there are some broader ideas that could help green the company overall. Brainstorm together and talk about the steps needed to achieve those goals.
To start, try not to get too over the top – set no more than four goals at a time so you can properly focus your attention on completing them.
Once you’ve set some goals for your group to achieve throughout the year, have everyone report back at the next meeting to deliver progress.
You should assign group members tasks to complete in order to get the ball rolling.
I recommend starting small and fixing the basics first.
This includes recycling programs, spreading basic environmental awareness to employees, etc. These will take less time and money.
It’s also a good idea to talk about budgeting with your team.
If you have some big goals down the line, chances are they will cost more money.
make suggestions to your company:
There will be things you want to change within your company which will probably mean talking to the executive staff.
It’s always a good idea to be prepared, and it never hurts to make a nice presentation.
Your presentation should include a clear and simple definition of the action taken, benefits (both quantifiable and intangible) the company would receive from implementing the action, an outline of costs, a summary of risks, and how the action will be tracked and reported.
So, for example, let’s say you want to reduce paper usage in the office. Here’s how you could present that to the executive team:
- Action: Reduce paper usage in the office by only printing necessary documents and setting printers to default to two-sided printing.
- Benefit: Reduce the cost of paper and ink by X amount of money.
- Outline: Savings of X amount of money.
- Risks: Some resistance from employees who are used to doing things a certain way.
- Tracking: Paper use will be tracked and reported quarterly.
This is a basic example of how you can present your suggestions to your company.
If you’re having trouble calculating costs, Teach Me Finance might be able to help with that.
create backup plans:
Let’s say a goal doesn’t pan out, or something doesn’t go quite like you hoped – will you decide to just give up on it? Truly, it’s best to have a plan B ready, just in case. The world changes quickly and sustainable workplaces are always adapting.
As you implement your green projects, make sure your team and the executive committee are fully aware of all possibilities which include risks and downsides – not just upsides.
Something could go wrong – maybe you won’t get those compost bins set up right away or meet your recycling goals.
It might take some time to get these things passed and that’s OK. Most things take time so be prepared for pushbacks, but keep going. You got this!
celebrate your achievements:
Probably the best feeling is when something you’re perusing comes into fruition.
Celebrate that success as a team together!
You can announce your successes in the company email, newsletter or blog so all your fellow employees see it too.
Consider even having a mini party to celebrate your wins – just remember to use reusable utensils, cups and plates! Always keep your green message in mind.
Related: 5 Tips for a Zero Waste Party
can schools have green teams?
Absolutely! Many universities already have them. But no one is too young to start focusing on sustainability in their sphere. I think it would be amazing if high schools or even middle schools began implementing more student-led green initiatives.
what are the benefits of such a team?
Firstly, the most obvious benefit is more sustainability and less waste. However, these teams also work toward bringing about more inclusion, diversity, equity, and wellness to their workplace or school for a better future.
Will you be starting a green team at work? What are some green initiatives you hope to implement?
Guest Post: Ariana Palmieri is the founder of Greenify-Me.com, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on MindBodyGreen, Green Matters, The Penny Hoarder and several other publications. Get her free e-book “10 Ways to Reduce Trash” by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.