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Complementary Healthcare Information Service - UK

TOP TIPS FOR MAKING A HEALTHY WORK SPACE

Article written by Suzy Chiazzari

If you are finding that your energy lags and you are losing enthusiasm for your job, then it could be your work environment needs improving. You don't have to be a company director or wealthy to create a healthy and eco-friendly workplace, because small efforts can make all the difference. Whether you work in a large office or at home, your work space will have a great impact on your mood and health. Here are some tips that are quick and easy to incorporate.

Recycle

Most local authorities have recycling schemes so make sure that your work place is taking full advantage of the recycling available to you. It is a good idea to keep two bins under your desk: one for paper and card and the other for plastics and non-recyclables. Don't forget that envelopes with windows cannot be thrown in with the paper rubbish. Try to watch your printing habits as it is so easy to create your own personal paper mountain. It is quick and easy to staple together scrap paper into a notepad. Only print out documents that you really need so think before pressing the print button and encourage other people to do the same by putting the message - Do you really need to print this email? as part of your email signature.

Printing double sided will immediately cut your printing in half and is far less wasteful. If you can, use the fast printing option as you will also save on the amount of ink you use. 

Natural Light

If possible try to make sure that your workplace temperature is set to a realistic level for the season. If you are wearing short sleeves in winter then you should ask to turn the heating down. If you are cold in summer, the air-conditioning thermostat is set too high. Even a few degrees can make an enormous difference in saved kilowatts. Faulty heating and air-conditioning units are the prime cause of Sick Building Syndrome so make sure they are serviced regularly and open a window to get some fresh air.

Natural light is a natural free gift that is much better for your health than artificial light. So if you sit next to a window, ask yourself whether you really need to have the lights on. The odds are that you can see perfectly well with them turned off. Also consider whether the office lights need to stay on all night when the building is empty. If businesses simply turned off the lights out of working hours, millions of pounds of energy would be saved and light pollution in cities drastically reduced. During 2015 for one night the whole of the city of Sydney in Australia turned off their office lights to prove this point.

Energy efficient lighting

If you work from home by simply replace standard light bulbs with energy efficient ones and this will reduce your energy bill. In larger offices, replacing old fluorescent lights with new energy efficient types will not only save fuel but improve the health of the occupants. Thousands of working hours are lost each year due to stress, eye-strain and headaches caused by bad lighting. So even if your employer has not yet taken up the green challenge, they should understand the benefits to their business of a happy and healthy workforce.

Colour

Most people spend a great deal of time at work so it should be a pleasant and inspiring place to be. The colours in your environment will have a great impact on your emotional and mental health, so take a look at the colours around you. Light colours reflect more natural light and are best in places where you spend many hours. Cool colours help fight stress if you work in a claustrophobic or hectic atmosphere.  

Warm colours are more welcoming and emotionally supportive. They are best suited to large cold spaces and factory floors or where there is an impersonal atmosphere. Dramatic colours can be inspirational and relieve boredom at work but these can also be disturbing so should be restricted to doors and other architectural features. Strong bright colours also work well in areas where there is movement, such as an entranceway, reception, corridor, stairs, studio or gym.

Plants

Although some businesses have a strict policy about desk clutter it is well worth while trying to incorporate plants into your workspace. Plants have many benefits. They look lovely, are calming and humanise the workplace. So if there is are any window sills introduce species like cacti that do not require much water, or find a place for a larger plant such as a Yucca, Ficus or Palm. Plants are efficient air cleansers that have been proved to gobble up electronic smog. Talking of which, turn off your computer and printer when you go home and at least turn it to stand by or sleep function when you have lunch. Also you should switch off the monitor and speakers too.

Drinking Water

Global warming may be causing draughts in many areas of the world but that isn't an excuse for not having a good supply of pure drinking water at work. An average person needs eight glasses of drinking water a day to prevent them being classified as chronically dehydrated.‚ In a small office, a water filter jug is inexpensive and a more energy efficient way of getting fresh water than buying bottled water ever day. Think of the plastic bottles you will save and you will have an endless supply fresh drinking water at a fraction of the cost. The free-standing coolers often found in  health clubs require regular bottle changes, which means a lot of extra motor journeys to and from your office. So in a larger office the better option is to get a plumbed in water cooler that works directly off the water mains.

 Solar Power 

If you are serious about making your office more eco-friendly so try not to rule out larger and more expensive changes. There are an increasing number of grants available to help pay for better insulation and solar power. Contact your local supplier and do some research on government websites and ask for help. Employers are realising that making energy efficient changes to their work places do not only create a healthier and happier workforce but that it will also save them money. So take the initiative and suggest improvements to you company board or Director.

Green Transport

Getting to work is one of the ways we can all help save the planet and reduce our carbon footprint. If possible try to get to work in the most energy efficient way possible. Working from home is the most environmentally friendly option, and walking or cycling is another good option if you live close to your workplace. For longer distances try to use a bus or train but if you have to use a car to get to work check out if there are any car share schemes in your area. This is a great way to save on fuel and parking costs and if you are thinking about buying a new car, then consider an energy efficient version that uses duel fuel.

Above all remember that you do not have to be the head of a large corporation to make a green contribution at work. There is so much you can do as an individual and our collective efforts will ultimately make the biggest difference. 

About the author:

Suzy Chiazzari is an international best-selling author, eco-designer and colour therapist with a special interest in creating healthy, eco-friendly home, work and garden spaces. Suzy founded the Holistic Design Institute and Iris School of Colour in 1992 to provide training in various creative fields that use Colour and Design as a Healing Art.

Website:      http://www.holisticdesign.co.uk

www.facebook.com/HolisticDesignSchool

copyright © Suzy Chiazzari

 

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