Environmentally Sustainable Work Practices
Sustainable work practices mean that economic development must be ecologically viable now and into the future. While the natural environment provides us with resources, it is also a dumping ground for waste and resources that we no longer require. Our use and misuse of the world’s resources has a negative impact on the health of the natural environment and our own quality of life.
Resources in the workplace
Resources are all the things you need to do your job on a regular basis. They are the little things that you often take for granted and do not give any thought to. Resources generally used in the workplace can include such things as:
- paper products
- pens and pencils
- paper clips and staples
- plastic products
- toner and ink cartridges
- chemicals for cleaning
- business equipment
- office furniture
They are also the things that can make an enormous difference to not only the organisation’s cost efficiency but also its carbon footprint.
What is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint is the direct effect our actions and lifestyle have on the environment in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. The biggest contributors to carbon footprint are travel needs, and electricity demands. However, in some way, all our actions have a direct or indirect impact. This includes (but not limited to):
- the food we eat
- the clothes we wear
- the way we entertain ourselves
- the way in which we move from place to place (cars, buses, aeroplanes)
All of these things need to be manufactured or produced in some way. Machinery requires energy, cars, buses and aeroplanes burn fuel, and in our homes and offices we use a significant portion of electricity that generally come from fossil fuel burning power plants. All these actions contribute to accelerating global warming and climate change – leaving behind a ‘carbon footprint’.
Many businesses are now looking closely at their work practices and the resources they use in terms of reducing their carbon footprint. There are a number of government initiatives at a national and global level directed at making improvements in the way we work – helping us:
- think about the way we use energy
- the products and services we use – and in turn produce
- the way we produce them
and, in general, assist in setting up what are known as ‘green’ offices. Some of these initiatives are, and can be found at:
- Department of Climate Change – The Department of Climate Change was established in 2007 as part of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio. The Government has set targets to reverse current trends and drive down Australia’s carbon pollution emissions from 2010 onward. Its goal is to reduce emissions to 25 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.
- Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts – The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) is the Australian Government’s central piece of environmental legislation. It provides a legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna,