13 ways to go green at work

The UK’s biggest union launches its first Green UNISON Week – here’s how you can help green your office

At UNISON, we’ve been environmentally aware for as long as we’ve been around – fully paid-up members of the green club.

But this year we are running our first ever nationwide Green UNISON Week, with branches across the UK organising a week of activities calling for urgent action to tackle climate change.

From 16-20 September UNISON members will have the chance to show support for the school climate strikers, ahead of their campaign to raise awareness and the school climate strike itself on 20 September.

At the same time, why don’t you get involved and help green up your office? Here are our top 13 ideas to get you started:

  1. Remind people in your office to turn off computers, unplug phone chargers and turn off lights each evening.
  2. Talk to your UNISON branch about raising environmental issues with your management. For example, you could submit a motion at your AGM to reduce the amount of plastic your canteen uses.
  3. If you work in local government, contact your pension scheme and ask them to divest from fossil fuels. There’s a useful guide here.
  4. If your employer runs a ride-to-work scheme, promote this, or consider finding a keen cyclist to run a session on bike safety or maintenance for would-be/new cyclists.
  5. Find out if your branch has an environment or green rep – and if not, why not volunteer and be the first!
  6. Encourage your workplace to make more use of tele and video-conferencing, rather than getting staff to travel to attend meetings.
  7. The rearing of cattle is a massive contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Encourage your team to have a meat-free lunch day once a week – there are plenty of recipes online.
  8. Check your workplace recycling scheme is being used correctly – are people recycling what they can, and putting things in the right bins? If not, run an education session. Teracycle provide some great recycling bins. And if there isn’t a recycling scheme, why not help to set one up?
  9. But before you have to recycle your paper, just check if you really need to print. Sending documents electronically or, even better, having a chat can be so much greener!
  10. Your workplace may have a sustainability team – how might the union work with it?
  11. Joining the UK’s biggest union doesn’t need to cost the earth. You can use Easy Joiner to recruit new members instead of paper forms.
  12. Take your plant to work! Desk plants not only make your office feel more homely and help oxygenate the room, they also absorb pollutants from the air.
  13. And of course, leap in at the deep end and run a stall in your workplace during Green UNISON Week!

Is there anything we’ve missed? Got any bright ideas? Let us know what you’re doing for the planet at work.