Are YOU greener at home than work?

Filed in Blog by on May 21, 2016 0 Comments
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greener at home than in the office my zero wasteI read a fascinating article in the Guardian called “I just can’t be bothered: Why people are greener at home than in the office”

The article described how people who recycle religiously or turn off the lights at home often don’t at work.

Environmental behaviour in the home is largely private and is motivated by our own individual values, and it’s different at work (unless you own the business of course). The main reasons for people ‘not bothering’ seemed to be lack of financial benefit to the individual and lack of control.

The number one reason cited was because “they don’t have a financial interest”. In addition equipment is often shared so there can be a lack of responsibility and employees can’t control many of the elements that could make a difference to energy and resources use, such as heating or lighting.

All interesting stuff when I’m writing to an audience who probably fall more into the ‘altruistic’ side of sustainable living, rather than the ‘what’s in it for me’ side. When I’ve asked readers in the past about their motivations, saving money isn’t top of the list. It’s more to do with ‘wanting to do the right thing’, for spiritual reasons, because they hate waste or because they want to leave a better future for generations to come.

So how can we encourage people who don’t care, to care?

Make someone a hero

Everyone wants to be a hero.

And you know you are in my eyes, right?

But doesn’t it add to the warm fuzzy feeling of life when you are RECOGNISED for something you’ve done – no matter how small?

Vicky shared that in her office “The newsletter (emailed) congratulates the person who has most reduced their printing every month.”

That’s so easy to implement and will boost staff morale no end.


I find humour goes a long way to encourage positive behaviour, which is why I loved this notice our Facebook group member, Elizaveta, shared:

positive green habits at work

We’re all lazy

Admit it, you love convenience as much as I do.

Pip has discovered that in her office, people will do whatever is most convenient.

For example, the food and tea bag waste bin gets used more when it’s by the sink rather than tucked away in the corner. And if the regular bin is full of paper, moving a recycling bin next to it helps divert it.

She adds “I think most people are happy to do things if it doesn’t require additional effort!”

The fear of humiliation?

Fear of public speaking, bugs or heights. What’s at the root of them all?

My guess is a fear of humiliation.

Fear of humiliation is a primal fear based around rejection from the tribe.

No one wants to look stupid and be an outcast. We don’t want to be Billy No Mates or feel like people are talking about us behind our backs. Which is why this second idea from Vicky could work.

If you don’t mind the ethics of this one why not tap into this intrinsic fear to improve your company CSR?

Vicky said “At one time someone used to do spot checks to ensure you had powered off your computer screen at night and were not put anything recyclable in your waste bin.”

Read the full Guardian article here.

What about you? How do you encourage people who don’t really care, to care?

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