Ruth Mitchell

Workplace waste reveals environmental ?Jekyll and Hydes?

Workplace pressure could be creating a nation of environmental hypocrites, according to a new report.

Research carried out by environmental advice agency Envirowise, shows that many employees of small firms who are committed to cutting waste at home are failing to put their good habits into practice at work. The survey found that a third of UK office workers took no action to reduce the amount of waste they produce during the working day, resulting in vast mounts of money and resources being lost without trace. Envirowise says it is employers who have the ability to change the habits of their staff.

Professor Toby Wall, Director of the Institute of Work Psychology, said: “This is a symptom of our pressurised workplaces where there is often too little time or encouragement for people to take action on waste. “Research shows that if people are closely monitored and given strict performance targets, they will focus on their core tasks at the expense of other activities. “Employers should consider quickly establishing some simple steps to help employees take more ownership of this issue - perhaps by appointing a ‘champion’ to lead waste-busting initiatives, encouraging greater teamwork or investing in training.”

The workers surveyed agreed, saying that changes in the workplace would improve their ability to minimize waste. 55% said that having eco-friendly options (such as recycling bins) in the workplace would help, and 31% would appreciate clearer environmental policies from their employer.

Dr Martin Gibson, Envirowise Programme Director, said: “With more than 70% of those surveyed taking positive steps to act environmentally at home, it is now vital that employers take up the challenge of increasing this behaviour in the workplace and ensuring individuals can bring their good habits from home into work.” He added that he hoped businesses would take advantage of increased environmental awareness “before we become a nation of environmental Jekyll & Hydes.”

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