How to Effectively Communicate Eco-friendly Strategy to Your Office
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Posters on the walls of your office can both inspire employees to live more eco-friendly lives and provide all necessary information on how to do it.
Posters are an efficient way to communicate eco-friendly strategy to office workers but do they have to be designed in a special way to grab attention? What is the key criteria for the eco-poster to be noticed: design or message? How to evoke people to take action instead of just reading a poster and forgetting what it says?
Let’s figure out how to successfully implement a sustainability strategy into workspaces using posters and answer all the questions in this article. It’s not that difficult to create an environmentally friendly office, especially if everyone understands the clear benefits to the Earth.
What makes an effective message design?
When the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” poster appeared, it got so popular that now it can be considered a perfect reference for how eco posters should be done. However, is it informative enough for people who never even thought of an eco-friendly lifestyle? Is it a design that has to do with the success and virality of the poster, a strong message, or both?
Based on numerous research papers, we can now sum up what makes a working eco-poster and show you real examples of how VistaCreate implemented these ideas. The collection of eco-posters was designed by our team and is ready for use. You can easily customize the posters if you want to change text, colors, and add your logo, or just download and print them out without edits.
Message & tone of voice
When it comes to writing a message for the eco post, you can probably get stuck with the choice of making it positive or negative. Positive means inspiring and encouraging message, while negative can be about realistic, cold, and scary truth. Both types of posters could work for different types of people. However, based on surveys, encouraging posts work better. Audience wants to feel the hope and be persuaded that the current environmental situation can be fixed.
When you tell people that Polar bears are under extinction, they can be compassionate about this problem but still won’t relate to it enough to make some actions. Making posters with messages that people can relate to will have a more effective influence. Write about local problems that they’ve personally experienced or at least are fully aware about.
Message must be clear, simple, and show immediate benefits of action or change of behavior, especially for people who are not motivated to act pro-environmentally.
Information & education
To achieve some level of social engagement and take action, people need to know exactly what to do. Posters that carry detailed information about the problem and advice on solving it have proved to be more successful than those with a short phrase like “Earth is in danger”.
When you provide people with facts and direct instructions, they feel responsibility and are more inclined to act. For example, telling why it’s important to go paperless and how you can actually decrease the use of paper gives people more confidence that it’s easy to do.
Number of words doesn’t influence a success of the poster directly as long as it is reasonable. Giving office employees a strong headline like “Use bike to get to work” and a paragraph of text explaining the benefits of this action can perfectly work for a large audience. The poster can be considered successful if it’s empowering, catchy, and easy to read at the same time.
Design & image
There are so many ways you can visualize environmental problems. It can be a beautiful image of a wild forest with inspiring message to go green or realistic image of deforested area, showing how far humanity goes with consumption needs. Both messages are strong and influential for different types of people.
Unlike text messages, the more complex is an artwork, the better it grabs attention of people, hence it has more chance to motivate for real actions. Posters with visual metaphorical interpretations of human impact will compel to deeper thought process than obvious pictures of pandas, for instance. The key rule here is to not overdo with making them too complex.
Now, let’s figure out the key messages that can help you green up your business and motivate people to act more consciously.
Clearly Label Recycling Bins and Put Them in Obvious Places
Too many recycling bins use cryptic symbols or worse – colored bins with no symbols. Not all of us know which colors correspond to paper, glass, plastic, and other types of trash.
- Print complete instructions on adhesive stickers in large print – and stick them right to the bins. Check with your local government for resources. Hennepin County, Minnesota, for example, offers information, funding, and free graphics.
- Place the bins in logical areas, like the break room, and near the copier, to make it easy.
- Create a poster that will remind people to separate the garbage. There’s a chance that they will start doing it at home too.
Eliminate Single Use Items
Disposable containers are overflowing garbage dumps, choking the oceans, ruining beaches, and killing wildlife. Less trash in the office means less trash processing, and less space dedicated to trash!Here are a few ways you can eliminate single use items in the office:
- Stock your break room with real coffee cups, glasses, dinnerware, and flatware.
- Provide cloth towels or hand dryers instead of paper towels in bathrooms and break rooms.
- Stock refillable pens.
- Provide eco bags instead of plastic ones.
- Provide water coolers or, better yet, a sophisticated water filtration system.
- Use rechargeable and recyclable batteries.
- Hang a series of posters on the walls of your office to remind people about the benefits of pro-environmental attitude.
These days, you can do anything online. Did you know that paper billing alone generates almost 2 million tons of CO2? What’s more, deforestation is one of the main causes of climate change. It’s easier than ever to go paperless. Customer records, billing, and payroll are becoming common online practices.
Here are a few more ways to make going paperless even more impactful:
- Digital marketing materials – It’s still a common practice, but mailing out printed materials is a little crazy today. It’s expensive and time-consuming. Nearly 80% of people age 18 – 50 use social media (Facebook is the most popular). You can use VistaCreate to create beautiful, professional marketing materials that specifically target every segment of your potential customer base for free and share them with a huge audience.
- Training materials – Employee handbooks were never really a great solution. An employee website with a searchable database of articles that documents every aspect of the job, from daily responsibilities to company culture is far more useful and accessible.
- Applications – Take you applications process online and create a searchable database to locate potential hirees with the skills and education you need, and avoid the need to read through a pile of papers to fill a post.
- Since we mostly use paper while on a job rather than during off-hours, make posters that remind to use less paper in the office.
If you absolutely must use paper, provide recycled paper, encourage smaller fonts and print on both sides of the paper.
Paint Your Roof White
It may sound random, but the difference in temperature is remarkable. If it’s 90°F outside, a black roof reaches temperatures of 180°F. Inside, the building will be 115°F, which puts a strain on the A/C units and a hurt on your energy bill.
What will happen if you paint the roof white and lower down the heating:
- Painting the roof white lowers the outside temperature to 100°F and the inside temperature to 80°F.
- Your staff will be more comfortable at considerably less expense.
- Reducing energy use can save you 18% to 40% on your electric bill!
- You’ll save money on maintenance in the bargain.
- Plus, every 1,000 square feet of white space equals a CO2 offset of 10 metric tons.
Put Plants Everywhere You Can
Office buildings usually have flat roofs, so it’s a great opportunity to plant them green. Inside the building there’s usually enough space to put big plants for cleaning the air. NASA’s Clean Air Study highlighted the best air purifying indoor plants. Among them are: Devil’s Ivy, Dwarf Date Palm, Peace Lily, Philodendron, Boston Fern, Dracaena “Janet Craig”, Weeping Fig, and more.
Here are a couple of ways to make your office green:
- Throw down topsoil on the roof and plant a beautiful garden. Soil and plants reflect heat and provide a natural barrier to moderate inside temperatures in the same way a white roof does, and helps cool down the urban heat sink that plagues cities.
- Turn your green roof project into a park-like setting, giving the building residents a place to stroll, lunch, or simply relax and recharge in a natural setting. A 2017 study showed that taking a leisurely 15 minute lunchtime walk in a park resulted in better concentration and less fatigue in the afternoon.
- Encourage people to bring their favorite plants to work. It’s said that plants reduce noise levels and significantly improve productivity.
Cut Your Electric Use
The Department of Energy estimates that you can save 3% of your bill for every 1 degree less heating or cooling. You can save 10% if you set your thermostat 10 degrees higher/lower at night. Which is easy with a programmable thermostat. Just set it to change when everyone is gone from the building and come back on in time to warm up or cool down before the first person comes in. Heat your office to a maximum of 70°F/21°C when occupied, 61°F/16°C when unoccupied.
Don’t stop there…you can do even more to cut down your electric use and lower your carbon footprint:
- Go au natural – wherever you can, bring the outside in. Case studies show clear benefits to using ambient and indirect lighting. Some great examples:
- In 1986, the main post office of Reno, Nevada was chosen for a major redesign. The goal of the redesign was to make the building a “minimum energy user.” Lowering and sloping the cavernous ceilings, installing indirect lighting with energy-efficient bulbs. The renovation cost $300,000 and was expected to lower electricity costs by about $50,000. Boy, were they surprised when productivity went up and errors went down. The productivity gains, were worth $400,000 to $500,000 a year. What a win!
- In 1993, Walmart experimented with “EcoMart,” a prototype eco-friendly store in Lawrence, Kansas. The primary goal of the project was energy efficiency. The building was designed with a glazed arch at the entrance to allow sunlight, an efficient lighting system, and a new type of skylight that control the way light enters the space designed for the building. To cut construction costs, the powers that be decided to cut the number of skylights by half. They were surprised to discover that the area of the store with natural lighting enjoyed significantly higher sales per square foot compared to the rest of the store and to other stores.
- Use smart power strips to kill the vampire loads – new smart strips detect when an item, like a computer, is not being used, and turns everything off. When electrical appliances are plugged in, they use energy…and waste money. While you’re at it:
- Set company policies to disallow the use of screen savers and turn the lights off in rooms when they’re not in use.
- Use your printer’s eco-mode if it has one.
- Hang notes all over the premises so that employees are constantly reminded of minimizing energy consumption.
- Invest in energy-friendly items
- Use energy efficient bulbs. Only 10% of the energy used by an incandescent bulb provides light; the rest generates heat. Compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) produce the same amount of light, use a third of the electricity and last up to 10 times as long.
- Install shades, blinds, or window tint – indirect sunlight is wonderful, but when it comes blazing in during morning and evening hours, it can really heat up the indoor temperature.
- Upgrade to energy saving appliances and electronics -you know about refrigerators and HVAC systems, but did you know you can get Energy Star VOIP phones and other office equipment? You can!
- Consider solar power – the investment you make in solar power pays itself off in a few years. After that, you rack up big savings.
- Example: Jackson Enterprise LLC in Dulzura, California, occupies 10,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space. Their initial investment for a solar system was $84,000, but rebates and tax credits brought the total down to $49,000. Today, the company supplies 100% or more of its own energy, and the annual savings averages $11,558, an ROI of 23.6%.
Promote Healthy Lifestyles
Millennials are all about work/life balance, and it’s good for your business, too. Since people spend approximately 35% of their lives at work, it’s important to create convenient and cozy environment for employees with different needs and lifestyles.
Also, it’s great to encourage eco-friendly behavior. Implement a couple of these initiatives to at least spark the interest:
- Provide bike racks – or take it one step further and provide branded bikes for people who don’t live within biking distance but would like a spin on lunch break.
- A massive 2017 study showed that biking to work lowered chances of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and your overall chance of death for any reason. Biking to work isn’t just good for the environment, it has amazing health benefits!
- Offer free transportation passes – many cities have public transportation passes like the CalTrain GoPass. Most are equipped with bike transportation options, and many have WiFi, allowing workers to get a jump on the day while in transit.
- Promote sustainable food – skip donut days and provide healthier snacks in break rooms and vending machines. If you partner with a cafe provider, choose one that serves healthy, sustainable food. Two of the most surprising ways to cut carbon emissions are to eat less meat and throw away less food. (Take this quiz, you may be shocked)
- Incentivize healthy choices – try gamification to encourage participation in healthy initiatives. Offer leaderboard recognition or prizes to employees who take part in healthy challenges.
Ditch the Suits
Another green strategy you can promote is casual dress. It may not be appropriate for every industry, but if you can, set a business casual policy for the office. Dry cleaning is a highly toxic process.
The World Wildlife Organization says, “80% of dry cleaners in the U.S. use perchloroethylene, a solvent that has been linked to cancer, nervous system damage and hormonal disruption. Seek out a non-toxic professional dry cleaning alternative or “green cleaner” in your area.
Climate change no longer has plausible deniability. It’s real, it’s here, and it’s terrifying. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that concluded “Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C (that’s 34°F) above pre-industrial levels between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.”
3 Reasons Businesses Should Green Up
1. Green is the new status symbol.
Big business is going green for a huge variety of very good reasons. Being an environmentally friendly company has become a major selling point, and lots of familiar names are on board, including Bank of America, SC Johnson, Coca-Cola, and Delta Airlines. The movement may have begun with startups marketing to socially conscious millennials, but today, it’s expected.
2. At some point, you’ll have to.
Most states and countries already have regulatory compliance have laws on the books, and more are added every year. As the effects of climate change become increasingly apparent, state, local, and federal governments will scramble to mitigate the coming disaster. Go all in now and start reaping the benefits right away.
3. There are too many benefits to ignore.
Once you’ve launched a green campaign and made a few upgrades, you’ll start to see the effect on your electric bill right away. But don’t be surprised if your workers are happier and call in sick less often.
Don’t forget to look for unexpected savings, like lower maintenance costs, reduced employee turnover, and higher productivity.
Check your social media accounts for higher engagement and watch your sales. While there’s no guarantee of better sales, it’s hard to deny the extent to which customers are attracted to companies committed to the environment.
How to Get Company Buy-In
Before you launch your campaign, get management and workers on board and excited.
Instead of simply telling your employees about the initiative, get them involved in the planning and strategy process. Hold meetings to discuss the benefits of going green and how it will affect them. Ask for ideas to help engage employees.
Organize a community service day around a popular event:
Getting your people on board is great for company morale and team building!
It’s clear that we – all of us – must act. The last five years have been the warmest in recorded history. Businesses are the worst offenders, and we have the opportunity and the obligation to lead the way.