Earth Week, which took place from April 21 to 28 this year, inspired people to take action in the name of protecting the Earth we all share. As the global community becomes more in-tuned with the environmental issues plaguing our planet — ranging from honeybee extinction and deforestation to Arctic amplification and climate change — it is up to business leaders to take a stand.
For coworking space owners or staff members looking to do their part in protecting the environment and going green, look no further than the example of Green Spaces in Denver, CO.
As the first eco-coworking space with a focus on zero waste, Green Spaces prioritizes sustainability in everything they do based on a wholesome approach. Located in a 100% solar-powered building, the coworking space regularly engages with environmental leaders, teaches members how to properly recycle and makes composting a shared part of daily duties.
So, what can you do today to improve the environmental footprint of the coworking space that you call home? In other words, how can you make your coworking space more ‘green’ and carry on the mission of Earth Week all year long?
Here’s what Amanda Piela, the general manager of Green Spaces, had to say:
Tip #1: Post signs with ‘little green tips’
One of the easiest ways to encourage coworking members to think about being green is to share fast facts about sustainability. Advertising studies have shown that it takes a person between 11 and 15 times of seeing a message to fully internalize and act on it.
“I post little signs in our single-use bathrooms that share different environmental tips and facts about recycling or waste,” said Piela. “That way, people have no choice but to read it!”
By giving your members the information they need to be more conscious of their efforts in sustainability, you can set them up for success in making small changes that will have a big impact over time. Whether you post a ‘little green tip’ on your space’s refrigerator, message board, social media channel or in the bathroom stalls, make sure it is visible and not just a “one and done.” Repetition matters—especially when it’s for the good of the environment.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Turning down your thermostat by one degree can cut 8% off your fuel bill.
- If every household replaced one roll of regular toilet paper with one recycled post-consumer waste roll, 424,000 trees would be saved.
- Recycling a glass bottle causes 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.
You can also find a range of sustainability ‘fast facts’ here.
Tip #2: Don’t forget about the power of community
Another simple way to encourage sustainability both at your coworking space and in your surrounding community is to rely on local businesses and organizations for collaborative support.
For example, during Earth Week, Piela and Green Spaces’ team got the whole neighborhood involved for a successful trash clean-up — pulling together local craft breweries, a catering company, Global Conservation Corps and a massive number of community sponsors who donated prizes to the event.
Piela said Green Spaces and its partners — including DRiNk RiNo and RiNo Art District — were able to serendipitously drive their mission for increased sustainability forward while cross-promoting the event to each of their distinctive networks. Doing so made the clean-up a major success with over 70 participants showing up to volunteer their time on Easter Sunday.
“When one of the local breweries (The Rackhouse) came on board and was willing to donate their space for the clean-up afterparty, that was the game-changing moment that turned our idea into a huge event,” said Piela. “The amount of community support and engagement we had in the entire Earth Week planning was overwhelming. We all want the same thing and have the same mission — to encourage sustainability and create a greener future.”
Next time you are planning an environmentally-conscious event or want to raise awareness for a sustainable initiative at your coworking space, reach out to your neighboring businesses. Chances are, they’ll want to support the efforts as more people are recognizing the value in going green and sharing in an eco-friendly lifestyle at work.
Tip #3: Find a composting service
The nutrients found in food scraps are incredibly useful and, in a perfect world, should be returned to the soil. Not only does composting create more jobs and combat climate change, but it also builds a more resilient, vibrant local food system.
On a daily basis, the average worker generates over four pounds of waste—of which 20-30% is food waste. This is because people tend to buy and order more food at work than they need, which results in tons of wasted or spoiled food items. In fact, the average person throws away a whopping 23 pounds of waste every month!
To reduce the amount of trash you dispose of at work, Piela recommends finding a composting service and teaching the members of your coworking space how to reduce their waste disposal.
“Reduce, reuse and recycle is the motto we stick by, and it seems to work among our members,” said Piela. “If not, I’m usually the one who searches through the recycling bins at the end of the day to make sure everything is in the right place! It isn’t common knowledge to understand what gets recycled where versus what should be composted, so publicizing that type of information is crucial.”
Compostable items in your coworking space can include: vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, other food scraps, fruit peels, plants, and flowers. Another quick fix to pose to your members is to only buy food that will actually be eaten and embrace eating leftovers!
Also, check with your local waste disposal service to see if there is an opportunity to receive a “sustainability grade” (much like a restaurant grade!) Thanks to Alpine Waste & Recycling, Green Spaces is able to receive a monthly Automated Sustainability Report™, which reports how much trash was collected each month as well as how many pounds of compostable materials and recycling was collected.
“Our sustainability report cards are crucial in showing our members exactly how much waste we produce each month collectively and whether or not our footprint improved from the previous month,” said Piela. “The report cards make it easy to visualize and understand exactly what each individual member can do to produce less waste. Reduce, reuse, and COMPOST is my favorite saying.”
Tip #4: Make the switch to sustainable products
Besides making a conscious effort to limit your use of consumable resources like paper and plastic, coworking spaces can also switch over from disposable products to ones that are recyclable and sustainably produced.
Making a change as simple as sourcing your space’s coffee and tea from within your neighborhood instead of buying these items from a retailer could make a positive impact on the environment over time. Choosing to buy from companies that share in your mission of encouraging sustainability is also key, as you can guarantee their products are environmentally-friendly.
“We even turn the spotlight on local artists at Green Spaces by offering them the opportunity to display their artwork on our walls,” said Piela. “This saves us from buying mass-marketed artwork that probably wasn’t sustainably produced while simultaneously giving Denver artists the chance to share their creations, which is a win-win.”
By their very nature, coworking spaces are increasingly sustainable, following a principle of sharing and utilizing similar resources in a communal setting. While some spaces may find it challenging to kickstart new eco-friendly policies, having sustainability at the core of your mission will ultimately appeal to more members and entrepreneurs who are environmentally-aware.
Take a note out of Green Spaces’ page and see how these tips can make a positive change on the green habits of your space. What other green tips does your space do that we haven’t shared? Comment below!