August 4, 2017 Green Living Written by Kate Harveston
The “How-To” of a Greener Workplace
Despite the current political climate,

going green is arguably the new standard. This is a great thing, but different industries still face unique challenges as to how they can go about making environmental advances. These are some of the more common industries that can make some simple steps to go green.

1. Restaurants

Restaurants are usually top perpetrators for waste. But what is a typical weakness for the sector can become a strength instead.

Rather than throwing away food, restaurants can donate extra food items to homeless shelters or soup kitchens. They can buy food grown locally from a community-supported agriculture program or farmer’s market. They can cut down on single-use items and use cloth napkins and metal or glass straws, and they can opt to serve condiments in glass or ceramic dishes.

2. Offices

Nearly every industry has an office. Keeping the waste management simple is the best way to encourage people to actually use the ideas, but everything can be adjusted.

Try installing a motion sensor in back rooms and closets, so the lights don’t get left on. Get rid of paper and plastic dishes in the kitchen, open the windows to use natural light and start having everyone turn off their computers when they leave.

3. Manufacturing

Manufacturing makes up over 35% of the U.S. GDP, so cleaning up this industry can have an enormous impact on the overall carbon footprint of the country. Most manufacturing companies use air compressors heavily. Compressed air is a renewable resource, but it can be a drain on electricity. Keeping track of the loaded running hours and using them as a starting point can cut down on energy consumption.

Companies can also cut down on their energy use and then add in renewable energy like solar or wind power — and the combined effect is powerful. Since manufacturing is a global industry, this has a worldwide effect and can impact industries in almost every country.

4. Agriculture

Organic versus conventional has been making headlines for the past few years, but conventional farmers are making some pretty impressive progress going green. The practice of sustainable agriculture is taking off, and there are several different certifications and labels that farmers can work toward.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition advocates for family farms working toward sustainable agriculture. This limits them since they aren’t able to cooperate with the larger farms, but they have their own ideas. A combined effort including precision farming, enhanced soil nutrition and conservation tillage can have a serious impact on farms in the U.S. and developing nations.

5. Transportation

Buses, taxis, Ubers, planes and trains are all part of the transportation industry, but trains are more economical and environmentally-friendly than cars. Updating the railroad system is an excellent way to transport goods and people if we can get them interested. It’s also much safer than driving.

Germany has released the world’s first “Hydrail,” which is a train that only emits water vapor. It’s powered by hydrogen, and even though it’s much less noisy than a diesel train, it matches it for power.

Even if you don’t work in the industry, you can contribute to the railway business by taking the train and skipping the drive. However, if you don’t live in Germany, or you can’t take the train, take a look at Uber. There’s usually a cheaper carpool option that takes multiple cars off the road. Plus, you might make some new friends.

Every industry has different challenges to overcome to become more sustainable in the long-run. Every one of us can make some small changes that have the potential to impact the world in a big way, but making those changes throughout an entire industry is much more challenging. However, it is well worth it to look into starting green initiatives in your workplace.

If one person can have an impact on the environment, think of how much of an impact an entire business can have! If you’re in management, look into ways to shift your budget around so that you can start using some eco-friendly options. If you aren’t the one in charge, find the person that is, and talk to them about all the ways that going greener can have an impact on your industry and the world.


This is a guest post written by Kate Harveston.
Kate Harveston is a freelance writer and blogger. Her writing focuses on politics and the environment, with a particular emphasis on social change. You can follow her writing by visiting her blog, Only Slightly Biased.