Eco-apathy kills green shoots of change

Struggling to convince your staff to embrace your latest green initiative? You're not the only one...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Only 40% of us think that it’s our responsibility to protect the environment during office hours, according to a new survey by technology company Canon. One in three reckons it’s their bosses’ problem, not theirs, while 16% think the government should carry the can. So it’s presumably no surprise that a measly 5% of us think we’re more environmentally conscious at work than at home, regardless of our employers’ best green efforts.

Then again, the survey seems to suggest that companies are not doing a very good job of communicating their policies to the workforce. About 10% of respondents didn’t even know what a green policy was, while another 53% of us appear to think that our employer doesn’t actually have one (which sounds a bit unlikely in this day and age). Even when employees are aware of it, scepticism is rife: 42% said their company’s green policy was just a PR exercise that had no meaning to most people within the business. Perish the thought.

Canon reckons that unless companies find a better way of breaking down this ‘eco-apathy’, they’ve got no chance of being greener. ‘It is shocking to see just how disinterested (sic) UK workers seemingly are when it comes to doing their bit to protect the environment,’ says Canon’s UK & Ireland MD Andy Vickers. ‘These results indicate that individual employees have either not bought into their company’s policies or perhaps don’t believe they are genuine.’

Apparently Canon’s particular bugbear is the amount of unnecessary printing that goes on in the average office (a slightly odd thing to worry about for a company that makes a lot of office printers, you might argue). Its survey found that most of us throw away about eight unnecessarily-printed pages of A4 every day – that’s 120m pages in total. Just think: if we all put our printers on the double-sided setting it would save 60m pages a day – over a year, that probably saves enough trees to offset one whole hour of a Chinese factory’s carbon emissions...

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