From the pantry to printer, offices tend to generate huge amounts of waste – this is why Banyan Workspace, Hong Kong’s pioneering and most renowned green workspace, has not only embraced sustainability at its core but launched a new project to help other offices do the same.
Through their Green Office Project (GOP), Hong Kong offices can now follow in Banyan Workspace’s footsteps in becoming more sustainable and green. From choosing the right indoor plants and sourcing non-toxic cleaning supplies to having a composting station in the pantry, every step counts!
We spoke with the Banyan Workspace team to find out more about the GOP, how it works and what they hope to achieve.
Congrats on launching the Green Office Project! Can you tell us how the idea first came about?
Ever since we first opened the doors of Banyan Workspace, our mission has been to “normalise” workplace sustainability and how by making conscious changes to habitual operations and procurement, you can create a beautiful and professional office that provides everything you need in an environmentally and socially responsible way. Far from being an inconvenience, our sustainability is now consistently cited as one of the things our members love most about working at Banyan.
People who visit us frequently ask how they can replicate our initiatives. This is what inspired us to launch the Green Office Project; we want to share our experience and expertise with other companies and help them turn around their own sustainable credentials. We believe there is a false narrative that Hong Kongers don’t care about the environment; when they are provided with simple, meaningful and economical alternatives, they are actually very committed.
What kind of services does the Green Office Project offer?
We provide everything a modern office needs to run an environmentally and socially responsible workplace. Our services can be split roughly into three parts – Procurement, Operations and Engagement – but these three parts are best viewed holistically. Our team spends time getting to know each company individually, assessing where they are on their sustainability journey and how we can best help them move forward.
For companies that are just starting out, the simplest first step is often swapping up their procurement; the Green Office Project provides a ‘one stop shop’ for eco-friendly office supplies, including for pantry, stationary and hygiene. We can also assist with office inventory such as reconditioned IT equipment, desks and furniture, reusable cutlery and tableware, waste receptacles, and so on.
We also guide companies through the implementation of responsible operations. This includes creating an efficient waste management and recycling system, improving energy efficiency, healthy A/C maintenance, data collection and evaluation, social impact initiatives and creating strong in-house green office policies. Finally, to ensure everyone in the company is comfortable with the changes, we facilitate education and engagement programmes, from senior executive education workshops to support staff training.
How does the process work?
This depends very much on the needs of the individual company. If they are solely interested in green office supplies, we can simply send them a sample box of products which they can then order directly from our online catalogue. We can help assist them with calculating the amounts they need and any recurring orders, should they wish.
For other services, we meet with the leadership team and identify the changes that they wish to make. Sometimes a full transformation is required (for example if a company is moving into a new office), but more often companies like to take things step by step. Using our experience, we can help suggest the best way to improve a company’s sustainability incrementally in order to achieve the best results.
What are some examples of offices or places that you’ve transformed?
If anyone would like to see an example of what we can help you achieve, visit us at Banyan Workspace! Banyan is where we test out all our products before including them in our catalogue, ensuring that they meet our environmental, efficacy and economic standards.
What are the biggest obstacles in Hong Kong to running a green office?
I would say that lack of awareness of sustainable alternatives is a big issue. There are effective eco-solutions out there, but when we live in such a fast-paced city, it is all too easy to succumb to “business as usual” – the same toxic cleaners, the same disposable plastics, the same carbon-intensive practices.
It’s hard to blame individuals, as we are all dealing with high-pressure jobs. This is exactly why the companies themselves need to step up and implement green office initiatives, making sustainability a normal part of employees’ lives.
The other thing we come up against continually is the assumption that eco-friendly products and supplies are more expensive than their non-sustainable alternatives. But while individual pantry or hygiene items might cost slightly more, a sustainably run office is consistently shown to be more economical in the long term.
Building a ‘green culture’ at work leads to reduced electricity consumption, less replacement of disposable items, fewer new office purchases, not to mention the increase in productivity that is linked to a happier workforce and a healthier environment. Sustainability is, by definition, more efficient, and efficiency saves money.
Are there similarities to running a green office and a green home?
Absolutely! One of the most impactful things we have noticed at Banyan Workspace is that our members take what they have gotten used to in the office and bring these new concepts home with them. It is all about breaking old habits and creating new ones.
By making it easy for people to be environmentally conscious in the office, such behaviour becomes normalised. Our members take their new work-lifestyle home with them, where their family is likewise influenced. I believe the impact that our offices have on our home life can’t be overstated.
What’s one thing every office can do immediately to become a shade greener?
There’s no time like the present! Make the change today by finding some sustainable swaps for your office supplies, whether it’s opting for recycled printer paper or upgrading your coffee beans.
Learn more about Banyan Workspace
Exclusive offer for 8Shaders
Banyan Workspace is pleased to offer 8Shaders a special discount on all pay-as-you-work passes. Enjoy 20% off any day, hour, half-day or week pass with the code ‘BANYAN8SHADES‘ – buy your passes here!
(Note: Discount does not apply to monthly passes or memberships at Banyan Workspace and is valid until 31 May 2023.)
See also: Good News: Treehouse Opens in Quarry Bay
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