Sooner or later, most companies feel the need to refresh their office decor. This is not merely for the sake of hygiene and ergonomics, but also a common marketing tool. Does the old saying “you have to look successful to be successful” sound familiar? Not to mention the simple need to impress your clients and customers with appealing design that says “Yes, we are keeping up with the times.”
However, simply tossing out your old furniture and purchasing a new set can not only be expensive but environmentally hazardous – which could, in turn, be hazardous for your business. Nowadays, when you show that you don’t care about the environment, you might as well tell consumers you don’t care about them. After all, in today’s society, your consumers care more and more about their impact, which means they also care about yours.
Do You Need It?
Before you start, double-check that you really need to replace all the furniture and decor that you already have in place. Can you reuse it in a new way? Would a good spring cleaning give you the same feel, without the cost to your company and the drain on valuable resources?
Companies like The Sustainable Group, make a variety of everyday office accessories such as files, folders and notebooks that are recyclable or take advantage of recycled-content materials. These little additions of organization may be enough to clean up the place and give it a new feel. Be sure to keep track of what’s recyclable for later, so when it comes time to dispose of something, you know how to do so.
Today is all about modern design. For offices, this often translates into brightly colored walls, comfortable seating areas and a generally “open” feel. They want a streamlined look, simple but elegant, and something sleek and attractive. Antiques are rarely mixed in.
So how do you achieve a fresh look without significant environmental expenses?
The first thing to consider: if you’re looking to trash a significant amount of furniture, you may also have significant disposal fees. Companies like Steelcase have programs that can help match your unwanted furniture with another organization’s needs to avoid these fees. You can also search for locations to donate the old furniture to a charity and receive a tax break.
- When choosing new furniture, don’t forget to compare the percentage of post consumer material used to make the new furniture (the higher the better). Some companies like Herman Miller offer furniture not only made from recyclable materials, but that are also designed to be recycled at the end of their usable lives. If you’re looking for products made from wood, try to only purchase wood made from a renewable source such as cork, bamboo or plantation-grown trees. Avoiding hardwoods that are slow growing, like teak, will reduce your eco-impact.
- If you are also replacing older electronics in your modern update, have them recycled. You may be able to have them picked up for free, rather than hauled away at a cost.
- Don’t forget about basics like floors and walls. Stained concrete floors are an inexpensive approach for a modern look that also won’t generate unnecessary waste. Additionally, low volatile organic compound (VOC) paints mean workers can safety be in the office during the process, and your wall color won’t off-gas potentially harmful chemicals for your employees to breathe.
- What about how you power your new eco-office? If you own the facility, it might be beneficial to look into solar panels on the roof to lower your energy costs.
Don’t Forget: Make a Budget
Overspending could reflect poorly on your organization in today’s economy. Investors, shareholders and consumers alike want to know that you’re responsible with their money, as well as the Earth. There are many affordable options, which fall under the renewable, environmental and nonhazardous categories.
So, think sleek, open, colorful, eco-conscious and cost-effective. After all, you can lower energy costs, reduce waste disposal fees and create a safer working environment with every step towards reducing your organization’s environmental footprint.