When it comes to going green, the workplace needs work

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It’s been 41 years since the first Earth Day was celebrated in the U.S. in 1970, and since that time, we’ve made huge strides toward preserving our environment. Recycling has become the norm, the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking and everything from cleaning supplies to clothing to cars can now be found in eco-friendly versions.

While many of us have taken it upon ourselves to make earth-conscious decisions in our daily lives, most Americans feel that when it comes to their workplaces, both their employers and co-workers could make more of an effort to go green.

According to OfficeMax’s 2011 Green Workplace survey, 84 percent of U.S. workers say they recycle at work, but nearly two-thirds think their employers can do more to promote earth-friendly initiatives, and 73 percent say that their co-workers could also make a bigger effort to reduce the company’s environmental footprint.

When asked what their employers did to encourage green behavior at work, just 39 percent said their employers placed a sufficient number of recycling bins around the office, 13 percent said there was an employee dedicated to green workplace practices and 8 percent said their companies offered incentives to participate in green programs at work.

Of the workers who say they have room for improvement in their own environmental efforts, 63 percent say that company incentives that would give them the boost they needed to be more eco-friendly at work. Though 61 percent would prefer a cash incentive, most said that it wouldn’t take much for them to step up their efforts, citing an extra vacation day (46 percent), free lunch (44 percent) or a “green” gift (39 percent) as all the reason they’d need to participate in earth-conscious programs.

Not all workers need external motivation to maintain their environmental mindsets, though.  Sixty-four percent of respondents said that a feeling of personal responsibility kept them motivated to recycle or take other eco-friendly steps at work. Fifty-eight percent said it was a desire to make a difference in the world, and 40 percent said they wanted to set a good example for co-workers.

Does your office celebrate Earth Day? Is your company eco-friendly? Tell us about it in the comments section, below.

  1. Up until a few months ago, we didn’t have recycling in our office kitchen, which means all those frozen meal boxes and plastic bottles were being thrown into the trash (unless someone brought the recyclables back to the recycling at their desk…which they didn’t!)

    We’re making some great additions, but it’s tough to transfer a business that used to be done on paper to the electronic world…

    I actually just made a list of “ways to reduce waste in the workplace” for my blog, but I have a feeling that next year’s list will be twice as long! There’s still so much room for improvement!

    Happy Earth Day!


  2. I held a Earth Celabration of my own at work, in hopes of getting coworkers motivated to think green. My company does very little in regards to anything green. Americans amaze me at how wasteful we are and how little a large percentage of the population cares. I hope they wake up before it’s to late. WE ONLY HAVE ONE MOTHER EARTH.

  3. wow this is so nice that you the hole in the ozone layer is shrinking and everything from cleaning supplies to clothing to cars can now be found in eco-friendly versions….

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