09/05/2011

By Scott Sinclair

The age of austerity is making us more environmentally conscious at work, a national survey for Green Office Week has revealed.

The YouGov poll, commissioned by office products manufacturer Avery, found that nearly half the UK’s office workers said their offices have actively become greener as a result of the economic downturn as staff put more effort into recycling, turning off unused lights and saving on the heating bill.

Fifty per cent of office workers say they have personally become more green and 24% say they could be even greener at work with more encouragement from managers.

Nearly six out of ten believe a greener workplace has more chance to save money.

Nicky Amos, an expert in Corporate Social Responsibility, said: “It’s clear that the current economic situation is forcing many workplaces to become greener. More and more office workers are behaving in an environmentally sound and more efficient manner. This survey reinforces what many companies are finding - that a greener office can help the bottom line.”

The survey found the most common practical ways that office workers were personally greener in the last year included recycling paper (69%), turning off computer equipment and machinery when not in use (67%), switching off unnecessary lighting (61%) and choosing double-sided printing (48%).

Other green actions included re-using cardboard boxes (42%), choosing more environmentally friendly office products such as recycled stationery (20%), turning down the heating or air conditioning (22%) and finding uses for shredded paper (14%).

However, despite this, only 17% of respondents said their office was ‘very or completely green’. Only two per cent said their office was ‘as green as possible’ and more than a quarter said their office was ‘not very green’ or not at all green.

A number of factors prevent people being greener in the office. A quarter of office workers highlighted a lack of encouragement as a reason why themselves and colleagues were not greener in the office, 19% said there was too much effort involved, 18% referred to cost and 16% blamed a lack of information on how to go about it.

Green Office Week supporter Alistair McGowan, the impressionist, actor and environmental campaigner, said: “If, like me, you spend most of your waking hours at work, I’d encourage you to take part in Green Office Week. It’s not about being downhearted regarding climate change – it’s a prompt to think and act just a little bit smarter. Green Office Week makes the point in a clever interactive way that we can all do simple, practical things to make a positive difference to our environment. By getting involved and embracing the various tips and ideas in the campaign and on the website, we can all change our behaviour for the better and, in our cuts-driven world, save a lot of money!”

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