Step-by-Step Sustainability: How To Create an Eco-Friendly Workplace

Step-by-Step Sustainability: How To Create an Eco-Friendly Workplace

  • This article was contributed by Jessica Mino, Kane County Resource Management Coordinator, as part of the Step-By-Step Sustainability series.

We have explored some indoor and outdoor sustainability tips for home. Now let’s focus on where many of us spend a good portion of our time: at work!

Here are some workplace sustainability tips that I have implemented and you can easily integrate into your daily work routine:

Reusable Mugs Still Apply

And always apply! We all love a morning coffee or a Friday latte (especially me!), but think of how many disposable cups and landfill waste you can save by just implementing this one simple move.

(Pssst, this also applies for water bottles. Don’t have access to a place to refill during the day? Bring a bigger refill canteen!)

I have also mentioned how this is something to keep in mind while traveling, but keeping this at the forefront of our daily routine will have an even greater impact.

Turn Off Computers

And other “sleeping” electronics during off-work hours and weekends to prevent useless energy from being expended.

Unplug Chargers

When not in use. This reduces phantom energy, or the electricity used from outlets when equipment is not in use but still plugged in.

Stop Idling Your Vehicle

I understand this might not apply to all jobs — particularly first responders. But for the rest of us, no need to keep the car running while waiting for our co-workers or running back in to grab something from your desk.

Idling wastes 6 billion gallons of fuel a year so this simple step can have a dramatic impact on curbing our greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

In fact, turning off your car is all around safer, not just to improve air quality in your work environment, but also to prevent accidents.


This may seem straight forward but seems to get lost in the daily hustle and bustle of work. If you and your co-workers need some guidance, put one of Illinois’ new recycling guidelines about the recycling container.

I have this recycling can in my office, and no real trash can available. Having to get up to throw something in the trash makes me more aware of non-recyclable waste I create and encourages me to reduce that waste.

And if you want to really up your efforts …

Advocate for ‘Smart’ Power Strips

Many electronics continue to draw power from the wall even when powered off.

“Smart” Energy Star power strips can effectively “unplug” your unused electronics when you leave your desk to further decrease phantom energy draws, particularly when it is not practical to constantly unplug everything.

Ask For Light Sensors

So lights easily turn off when the room is not in use, even when you are in a hurry to run out for that meeting, but come back on when you walk in with your arms full.

Go For Zero-Waste Events, Meetings

Reference Kane County Recycles Zero Waste Guide to cut down on waste at work gatherings.

On The Fun Side

If you have a window, utilize plants to enhance your work environment! Happier you with healthier air.

Wishing you all an enjoyable and efficient work day knowing you are supporting the environment while achieving your goals!

Read The Series!