Earth Day takes place on April 22nd every year, and it’s no surprise that many people pump up their eco-friendly efforts on this particular calendar date. However, implementing serious, long term green changes doesn’t happen in a single day. To really transition your office from high-consuming to energy-abiding, there are several changes that take strategy, planning, communication, and additional investment.

Over time, the pressure to become environmentally friendly has become much more important. Our eco efforts today will have a drastic impact on the future of the world and human race, and when you take a stance, you’ll be making a difference, setting a standard, and becoming a role model.

Eco-friendly office

To properly prepare for next year’s Earth Day, there are several changes you can make.

Rethink Your Office Products

If you plan on going green, it makes sense to start rethinking the office products you use. For example, instead of using chemical-ridden products, opt for eco-friendly brands like Seventh Generation.

If you use a cleaning service, ensure the cleaning service uses eco-friendly products, too. Some services even specialize in their eco-friendly approach. You can also use recycled paper products, eco-friendly pens, LED bulbs, compostable trash bags, and even staple-free staplers.

Cut Back on Paper Usage

The average office worker uses around 10,000 sheets of paper every year. Furthermore, 4 billion trees are cut each year to make paper and 16% of all used paper ends up in landfill. And another survey found that 70% of total office waste is comprised of paper, and 30% of print jobs are never retrieved from the printer. With these statistics in mind, it’s important that you start to think about how you can drastically reduce the paper usage in your office. Not only is this great for the environment, but it can help you cut costs, too.

Get your staff on board by having a smart eco-friendly printing policy in place. For every print job, your staff should think twice about whether it really needs to be printed. Everyone should use both sides of the paper when necessary, and paper recycling should be incorporated into your office.

Digital storage is also a great way to curb your paper usage. By digitizing the documents in your office, you can avoid keeping unnecessary copies and can recycle current paperwork that continues to pile up. Use this digital storage calculator to learn more about how much digital storage space you need to accommodate your office’s paperwork.

Create a Sustainability Team

Instead of spearheading the eco-friendly efforts, invite your staff to create a team of their own. By getting staff involved in your efforts to be more green, they’ll be more encouraged to participate and nudge others in the right direction.

Have them spearhead their own research efforts and educate the rest of the staff on new policies. This form of employee engagement is even more efficient than sending out a memo from top management. Allow them to take charge, and rework policies as they see fit.

Bright office space with natural lighting

Work With Your Natural Light

Where possible, you should do your best to maximize the natural light in your office. This might mean changing your drapes or blinds to allow maximum light flow. Natural light reduces energy consumption and has positive effects on humans. “Natural light sets the body’s circadian rhythms, which control awakening, falling asleep, synthesizing vitamin D and digestion,” says Jennifer Walton of H. Hendy Associates, an interior design company. “Indoor light, however, is a major disruptor. If possible, move workstations to within 25 feet of peripheral walls with windows.”

Final: Incorporate Nature

By bringing the outside in, not only can you improve the aesthetic appeal of your office, but according to some recent studies, you can even improve productivity. “Green” offices that incorporate plants result in higher morale, making employees happier, too. New research shows that by adding plants, you could increase productivity by as much as 15%. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: our connection with nature is unparalleled, and when integrated the right way, can do wonders. Plants can also help boost creativity, and improve perception of air quality and concentration.