Make Your Office an Eco-friendly One

Environmentalism is a very popular topic within our society today. People rightly care about their local and global communities and want to see a better and cleaner place for all to live.

Let’s face it, we spend the majority of our time at work or in and around the workplace. It’s not good enough to only make the necessary changes for the better within your household, they must be enacted in every aspect of your life.

It's not just about recycling and reusing around the office, but how to make the office a cleaner and healthier place through thinking about the environment and sustainability.

“But how can I get my colleagues on board with me?” You might ask. Or if you’re a manager your pressing question might be how to implement the changes so that they effectively trickle down throughout the company or establishment.

Here are some helpful ways of ensuring that everyone does their bit towards making our communities and offices a greener place.

Create a Contest or Monthly Challenges

What better way to rein in this new era of Eco-friendliness in your office than spurring on some healthy competition? Keeping tallies among colleagues who remember to turn the lights off, who brings reusable containers and cutlery to work, or even who travels to work in the most environmentally friendly way.

Dishing out points for each mindful act will eventually add up and handing out prizes such coffee gift cards or a free meal at the end of each month to those with the highest number of points will have everyone getting in on the fun!

Or even better, harness the human capital you already have and encourage your employees to take on the task themselves. Highlight some of the issues you would like to address and see who comes up with the best ideas and also reward and acknowledge their contributions to the company.

Make Informed Choices When Purchasing Office Supplies

Don’t waste your money on supplies that you know will end up in the trash bin within the week. Recycled paper products, Eco-friendly pens, staple-free staples, non-toxic cleaning agents are just a few ideas.

All of these things will soon be the norm within the office environment, especially considering the number of corporations that are switching to Eco-friendly policies. These products won’t cost you a fortune and are built to be sustainable, so they won’t need frequent replacing in the future.

Paperless Meetings

The age of the classic A4 sheet is coming to an end. Most of our writing is now done electronically and whether we like it or not we are tumbling inexorably down a paper-free path.

Strictly allocating your meetings as being paper-free is recommended but even turning up to others meetings with only your laptop or tablet to take notes on is better than nothing.

You may even soon discover the advantages of recording all your notes electronically – no amount of rain, spills, or misplacement can ruin them due to easy automatic back-ups. And these electronic devices can also record audio as well, so if you miss any important points you can review the meeting at a later time.

Turn Off Computers and Lights

It’s not uncommon for someone to be unaware that they are host to the nasty habit of leaving their computer on after use; it just seems so natural, convenient – like second nature. We often don’t even associate them with electricity sucking electronics!

Turning off everything we use once we are done with it is essential to being sustainable. If you are the last person to leave the office, be sure to check that everything has been switched off and isn’t just left on standby.

Or ask your nightly cleaning crew to hit the power buttons on lights and electronics on their way out the door.

Have Recycling Bins Easily Available

Yes, it's the most obvious but are you or your office doing so? Though not everyone is going to follow the rules, at least having the option to do so is a must and a step in the right direction.

Or think on a smaller scale by putting small empty boxes under the desks and use it to put paper and other recyclables to take home themselves. Just let your cleaning people know not to throw it away.

And before you recycle that paper, how about reusing it first? Cut the paper in half or even quarters, attach together with a couple of staples or clips and you have a handy notepad to take notes during phone calls or impromptu cubicle gatherings.

Stocking offices, cafeterias, and lobbies with recycling bins for both dry and wet recyclables is highly recommended. Even having a specific area where you can dispose of your glass waste is all conducive towards a healthier and cleaner office environment.

Make Use of Natural Light

Open up the curtains, blinds shutters, whatever it is that you use and let that sunlight shine in! Saving money and the environment with just one simple change.

Not only is utilizing natural light good for the environment it is also fantastic for the mental well-being and contentment of workers. Unnatural lighting is known to lead to headaches and migraines, it simply doesn't suit us humans to be under light bulbs for long periods of time.

We can all relate to the feeling of being cooped up and stuffiness that unnatural lighting can cause during the day time. So, why not brighten the place up? Letting the light shine in may even have positive effects such as increased creativity and productiveness – because who doesn’t feel better when the sun is shining?

Or invest in lighting that mimics natural sunlight. Sometimes referred to as sunlight bulbs, or as full spectrum light bulbs, they are specially designed LED bulbs that emit light relative to the visible section of the solar spectrum. They produce small amounts of ultra violet and infrared rays to imitate the suns light.

LED light bulbs are also energy efficient, last longer and are safer for the environment when it comes time to dispose of them.

Add Some Green to Your Office

Now that you’ve let some light in, you can put it to good use! There are really no downfalls to having a few plants placed throughout the office.

They look good, they are calming and they provide us with clean air. We risk going an 8-hour day without seeing a single shade of natural green and that’s simply not conducive towards healthy living.

A plant is a constant reminder of the outside world, not only will it induce calming effects, it will also lead to more awareness about the environment. We simply can't forget about it by leaving it shut up outside. So, place a variety of plants on the windowsills or next to the water container – you’ll not regret it.

Don't Throw Away Liquids

That left-over morning coffee, soda from lunch or the partial bottle of water your client left should not find it's way into the trash can or landfill.

Dump the liquid and ice out first, then recycle the container; this way you can “kill two birds with one stone”. You save precious water that can be retreated and reused, and you also eliminate paper cups and plastic bottles from the landfill.

An Eco-friendly office is easily achievable and is necessary to combat the harmful effects of our everyday life. A green establishment is the establishment of the future. Showing your clients or potential customers that you care about the environment showcases your company’s integrity and social responsibility when it comes to the workplace and our communities.

Microfiber - The Magic Cleaning Cloth

What's So Special About Microfiber?

We’re all familiar with the classic and humble cloth. Used throughout the history of civilization to clean away those eternal smudges; it’s always been around. A multitude of fabrics and materials have been used to fulfill the role of the cloth, and they all have the ability to clean in one way or another, whether it be by absorbency or grinding the stain into oblivion.

How could there then be anyone standout cloth? A cloth that’s a cut above the rest, that embodies the adage of ‘Many hands make light work.’

The microfiber cloth is your answer. A bastion of carefully concocted science and practicality, the microfiber cloth is special cloth beyond measure.

What is Microfiber?

Using what appears to be magic, the cloth can completely clear a dusty or dirty surface in a matter of seconds without any help from cleaning agents or even water. Microfiber cloths are made from either nylon or polyester fibers.

Both of these fabrics just so happen to be made up of uniformly charged compounds. Nylon being negatively charged, and polyester being positively charged.

As the name suggests, these cloths have more available fibers than a traditional cotton cloth. These fabrics are weaved together in a way that allows maximum fiber to surface contact. On average, a microfiber cloth contains up to 31 million fibers per inch more than an average cloth.

Not only do the charges of these fibers attract and break apart stains on a molecular level, they also trap the dirt particles in their neat little crevices. The design process creates a super soft, yet absorbent and durable, cleaning product that lifts dirt and germs away from the surface it is cleaning.

Microfiber Superiority with Bacteria

Unlike cotton cleaning cloths, which actually just push the germs and dirt around while absorbing the cleaning solution. This is where the microfiber cloth excels over traditional cotton rags.

The microfiber cloth's ability to reduce bacteria by picking up more on surfaces than the average cotton cloth. Some studies say the microfiber can pick up 99% of surface bacteria compared to cotton which only picked up 30%.

Caring for Microfiber

The whole thing sounds very intricate, you might think “perhaps it’s best to stick to the lasting cloth that needs next to no upkeep whatsoever.” It may come as a surprise to you to learn that the microfiber needs even less maintenance than your average cloth.

It is recommended that you avoid using detergents or bleach to wash these multi fiber cloths as it weakens the fibers' ability to hold onto the dirt particles. In fact, it is recommended that the microfiber cloth only be cleaned using warm or hot water with a mild hand soap or dish soap after use. Avoid any fabric softeners as well.

Do not dry your microfiber cloth in the dryer with other fabrics. It will act as a magnet to all the lint and fibers of the other clothes or rags. It's better to use a low setting or let air dry after washing.

How To Use Microfiber

If you want to get the most of out your microfiber cloth, you have got to know all about the most effective method of usage. The ‘fold as you go’ method is suggested that you start by folding the cloth in two and wipe until essentially maximizing surface to clean fiber contact.

Upon saturating these fibers with dirt or dust, you then fold the cloth again, exposing a completely clean side of the cloth. The idea is to continue folding until you have cleaned a surface with eight sides of the cloth.

If you do use a cleaning chemical, less is more as the cloth with absorb the cleaning agent and allow you to use less over the same surface. Or you can dampen the cloth with water; just be sure to wring it out well.

Cleaning Multiple Surfaces with Microfiber

A spectacular aspect of the microfiber cloth is just how many types of surfaces this ‘fold as you go’ method can be used on.

Struggling to remove those notoriously tough smudges from your chrome ornaments or stainless steel surfaces? The microfiber can wipe these smudges away with ease, leaving your chrome and stainless steel shining nicely and looking good as new.

The same stands for mirrors and glass, no need to leave streaks or smudges behind by using water or a cleaning agent. You’ll simply need to skim your cloth over the smooth service to remove the surface dust and apply slight pressure in order to banish those tougher stains.

The microfiber cloth really can be used on everything, coming in a mop form that can be used to clean any tiles or linoleum in your house. Forget about just moving the dirt around or spreading it out with typical mops, this high-strength, high fiber microfiber mop cover will completely clear your floors of dirt.

Cleaning your floors will be a whole new, less tedious chore with these lightweight, moisture-free cloths. No dust bunny or pesky crumb will be able to escape!

Microfiber in the Bathroom and Kitchen

Be sure to keep a microfiber cloth in your bathroom or around any generally wet surfaces where scum and grime can build up. A quick wipe of a microfiber cloth can save you from the impossible task that is removing compound dirt and mold.

Having a microfiber cloth nearby after a shower or while washing dishes is a smart move. Sinks, tubs, sinks and the likes can all be kept sanitary and fresh. When cleaning counter tops it is, however, recommended that you slightly dampen the cloth, just to ensure that the surface where you prepare your food is completely free of any potential contaminants.

And last but not least, you can soak up those spills and wet messes. The microfibers of the cloth make for a soft and smooth feel.

Fears of permanently damaging or staining the cloth would arise in even the most weathered cleaners mind. Such a disaster is not the case though! The microfibers take any wet mess in their stride, completely absorbing it and then releasing it upon washing as though they’d never done anything at all.

Throw Away the Cotton Rags and Only use Microfiber

These scientifically crafted cloths will outlast any other and they’ll do the job even better.

Make sure to pick up exactly what strength of cloth you need. There is a wider variety of clothes that vary in their fiber content and also according to what surface they are best suited for.

Make your life easier! Don’t break a sweat while cleaning and let these nifty little cloths to the job for you!

Beware of Sharing Food at the Office

With office parties, snack-sharing, the office candy bowl, or any form of shared food, there comes benefits and health risks. This is especially true in the fall season where the flu is more prevalent, and the holiday parties start to appear in full swing. With this comes a lot of finger foods, shared snacks, and homemade foods.

We all know who has the candy at their desk when we want a quick snack. Or the office baker who is constantly blessing the office with homemade goodies like cookies, brownies or cup-cakes.

While these can be very helpful in bringing a workplace together to celebrate, they can also become a dangerous pool for germs and sickness.

Everyone wants a happy and healthy office, and because of this, it is important to take the proper precautions to avoid unhealthy communal food habits.

Pros and Cons of Food Sharing

As stated, there are benefits and downfalls to having office food in a communal place, so it is important to weigh out the options. Below are the most prominent pros and cons concerning sharing food in the workplace.

Pros of Communal Food

  • It Can Bring the Office Together

By providing free food, whether it be at parties or as snacks for the workers in the office, this can bring the whole office together to bond more. This is true at office parties during the holidays because everyone comes together to have a good time while eating without the distraction of common work duties.

  • Everyone is Able to Eat

With food being provided, everyone, even those who weren’t able to bring their own dish, are able to eat and be involved with the rest of the office without feeling left out.

  • More Variety of Foods to Enjoy

When the whole office brings in food to share, there are a lot of options to choose from and no one feels as if they are isolated based off of what they are eating. Everyone is put on an equal playing field with food.

Cons of Communal Food

The primary cause for concern with communal food sharing is the risk of spreading illnesses or diseases. If the food is not handled properly or people are not sanitary when getting the food, this can be a health risk. There are countless illness and diseases that are spread by touch or cross-contamination in your kitchen.

This is a major concern primarily in the fall and winter seasons when the flu tends to spread at a much higher rate. For this, is it important to be careful and take proper precautions when handling and enjoying food at the office.

What is Lurking in Your Food

As stated above, the primary cause for concern when sharing food in a workplace is the potential to spread diseases or illnesses. Since everyone is going to be in close proximity to the food, it is important to bring the proper food types and take safety precautions prior to sharing food.

There are various ways to do this, and each one is equally as important to the others. Here are some of the potential health risks of communal food sharing:

  • The Flu Virus

With flu season in full swing, improper handling of food can cause the flu to be spread much easier. The flu spreads by those being sick not washing their hands often and not being careful when preparing or purchasing food to bring to the office.

  • Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a common disease of the liver that can be spread through the sharing of food disgustingly through the fecal-oral route. YUCK!

If someone touches the food when they didn’t wash their hands first, they can spread this disease to everyone else that eats that food after them.

  • Norovirus

It is the most common type of virus that causes gastroenteritis; those with it experience diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.

The number one cause?, not washing your hands after using the bathroom or before preparing food or coming into contact with food.

Norovirus can spread very quickly within large groups of people in close quarters. This is why when one person gets ill, entire households or offices often catch it too.

  • Food Poisoning

Was there any cross-contamination at their home when they were preparing the food? Was it kept at proper temperature?

If someone brings homemade food, you are not able to monitor whether it was handled properly. As a result, you can have a lot of workers down for the count due to food poisoning.

6 Steps to Safely Share Food

Below is a list of some of the precautions your workplace can take to prevent sicknesses from being spread through the sharing of food and have a healthy office environment throughout the year.

1. Buy Individually Wrapped Food

By bringing handmade food, there is a higher risk of spreading diseases and sicknesses because you cannot monitor how the food was made and if sanitary steps were taken when making the food.

Because of this, you can emphasize the importance of bringing only store-bought and individually wrapped food.

Individually wrapped foods not only allow you to avoid homemade dishes, but they also prevent the spreading of germs by touching the same foods.

2. Provide Toothpicks or Tongs When Sharing Food

If you do have food in the office that is not wrapped, the best way to prevent the spreading of germs is through using toothpicks or tongs.

Never let people grab the food with their hands because you cannot guarantee that their hands are clean prior to them contaminating the rest of the food.

By using tongs and toothpicks, you avoid the risk of too many hands touching the food since they grab the food with the tools provided instead.

3. Have Servers Stationed Along the Food Line

If you are very scared of too many germs being spread through people touching the food with unclean hands, you can have someone serve the food that is wearing gloves or has washed their hands.

While this is an extra step to take when planning an office party, it is one that can significantly decrease the health risks that come with office parties or food sharing.

4. Create a "Sanitation Station"

Before the entire office all share the same serving spoons with each other, they can prepare their hands first. At the front of the food line, consider having bottles of hand sanitizer for those who forget to wash their hands.

If you are sick or not feeling well, then ask an office buddy to dish out your food for you and avoid contaminating everyone.

5. Provide Cups or Bowls for Snacks

If you do have that bowl of M&M's, can of nuts or that large tub of cheese balls in your cubicle or office, let people know not to put their hands inside and just take what they want.

Provide them small Dixie cups or a small paper bowl and ask them to pour out the item and not use their hands.

6. Watch Out for Double-Dipping

It's not just a joke from the Seinfeld TV Show. Studies found that every time someone double dipped in a food bowl or dip, thousands of germs and bacteria were spread.

This is a very dangerous method of food sharing and is one of the most common ways in which bacteria are spread at parties.

To prevent this, you can emphasize the importance of not double-dipping prior to the party starting, or encourage everyone to dish out their own dip to a small plate or bowl and not congregate around the appetizer area.

Overall, there are a lot of benefits that come with sharing food in the office, especially at office parties, but there are also some major risks, those being the risk of sharing sicknesses and diseases.

If you are planning to share food in the workplace, it is first important to be knowledgeable about the different risks that partake in communal food as well as the different preventative measures that can be taken so that you ensure no one gets sick or worse.

These tips can help you to enjoy the bonding and camaraderie that comes from sharing food together and also help promote a healthy office.

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