RSPB staff at work at The Lodge, headquarters. Paul Langshaw, writing up some of the day's tasks on a white board, in the Transport office, Sandy, Bedfordshire

Ways to go green at work

There are dozens of little changes you can make to your lifestyle at work which will make a real difference to help conserve energy, reduce waste and save water. We've rated them in order of 'green-ness', so you can see how green you are!

Light green

  • Fix leaking taps right away.
  • Avoid energy-guzzling electronic goods.
  • Avoid heating the outdoors, by leaving your doors and windows open when the heat is turned up inside.
  • Turn off the lights and heating in empty rooms and rooms you don’t need.
  • Remind colleagues to switch off computer monitors when they're away from the desk and that they switch off all unneeded appliances at the end of the work day.
  • Some larger toilet cisterns can continue to work effectively with a smaller flush. Use a water displacement device to reduce the amount of water released each time you flush. Place a brick, a full plastic water bottle to reduce the flush volume. Alternatively contact your water company for a water-saving device.
  • Set up a system for collecting used paper, aluminium and other recyclable materials from offices and taking it to the main recycling bin at the end of each day or week. Your local authority recycling officer can give you advice and maybe even collection bins.

Green

  • Fix leaking toilet cisterns.
  • Keep windows and skylights clean and clear to make the most of daylight.
  • Switching to energy saving light bulbs. To get the best quality, buy bulbs with the Energy Efficiency Recommended logo (a blue triangle).
  • Set the thermostat at 19°C - if staff are warm, turn it down.
  • In existing taps and showers, install devices which reduce the water volume without affecting performance.
  • Fit draught proofing on windows and doors, not forgetting letter boxes and keyholes.
  • Keep radiators clear. Don't block radiators with furniture - it reduces efficiency and output.
  • 'If you can't measure it, you can't manage it'. Check regularly on your consumption of electricity, gas and oil and check that your bills relate to what you actually use, rather than an estimate.
  • Similarly for water, monitor how much water your workplace uses and figure out how you can reduce use.
  • Ask your colleagues where they think energy is being wasted, and for their ideas about saving energy.
  • Sign up to get your electricity from renewable sources such as hydro and wind power and landfill gas instead of polluting coal-fired plants. For more information on how to switch energy supplier, use the link on the right of this page to our green energy advice.
  • Turn off appliances at the socket that are drawing down energy while they’re on ‘stand-by’.
  • When it’s time to replace appliances, buy electrical appliances with the best energy efficiency ratings – that’s ‘A’ on a scale of A to G – or look for the blue triangle energy efficiency logo. 
  • When water-using appliances such as toilets and showerheads wear out, replace them with water-saving models. 
  • Set up a greening committee, with approval from your employer, and commit to getting things done.
  • Use both sides of the paper when writing, drawing or photocopying. Set up a collection tray in each room for paper that’s only been used on one side.
  • If you can’t reuse paper, use the recycled variety – for printing and publications Buy rulers, pencils and pens made from recycled plastic—they are now readily available, including from RSPB shops.
  • Set up a composting scheme to get rid of everything from grass clippings to tea bags. Ask your local authority if cut-price composting bins are available.
  • Re-use old envelopes by sticking a label over the previous address. Or contact Wastewatch UK for envelope re-use stickers.
Saltholme RSPB reserve, near Middlesbrough. Tees Valley, England. January 2009. Exterior view of the Visitor Centre

Dark green

  • Reuse/recycle water for non-potable uses such as flushing toilets and watering plants, for example, by installing a rainwater recycling system.
  • If your office or workplace has gardens or landscaping, why not use some of the tips on our ‘green living in the garden’ page. 
  • If you have cavity walls, get them insulated by having a foam injected into the empty cavity. This is more costly than installing attic insulation, but gives some of the best returns on efficiency and savings.
  • Replace old windows with double glazing, or fit secondary glazing. Have heavy curtains and draw them in winter to keep the heat in.
Planting a tree, spade, watering tree, Potton lower school, Bedfordshire, England

How did you do?

Light green

You're making a good start to a green lifestyle, why not take the next steps to saving our environment?

Green

Well done - you're already living a greener lifestyle than most people in the UK. Why not find out what else you can do to make a real difference to the environment?

Dark green

Congratulations! You really are committed to green living. Make sure you get family, friends and colleagues on board!

Oak leaves

How you can help

ink cartridges

Recycle your old printer cartridges and you'll not only help the environment but help us continue our conservation work.