The rise and rise of the green collar worker

Sep 28 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

With almost eight out of 10 British workers saying that they are more environmentally conscious today than they were five years ago, a growing number are taking their green consciences with them to work.

More than eight out of 10 people say that they recycle waste at home, and two-thirds claim they would rather walk or cycle for a journey of up to a mile than take the car.

And almost half told a survey for Fujitsu Siemens Computers that they buy organic food products and one in three make a point of dealing with ethical companies.

But this' enthusiasm to 'go green' now appears to be spilling over into the workplace.

Almost two-thirds of those questioned make sure that they consciously save energy by turning off their PCs overnight and nearly seven out of 10 say that they already recycle paper.

More than a quarter of employees have gone as far as actively lobbying their employer to implement more environmentally friendly policies, such as procurement of green IT systems, energy saving and recycling.

And amid soaring fuel prices, one in four workers are also active in trying to reduce their daily fuel consumption by lift sharing with colleagues.

But other research suggests that we could all be doing far more at work to protect the environment. Last autumn, a survey by environmental advice service NetRegs estimated small businesses could save as much as 1,000 per employee through such simple energy-saving measures as switching off unused lights or turning down the heating thermostat a notch.

At the same time, the Government-backed Carbon Trust, which specialises in helping small firms improve their energy efficiency, calculated that such businesses throw away 1 billion each year through wasted energy.

On the amount of energy commercial and industrial buildings consume for things such as heating, lighting, air conditioning, lifts and desktop computers, the UK fares badly compared with buildings in other European countries.

Transport is another major issue, currently responsible, the TUC has estimated, for more than a quarter of the UK's carbon emissions.

"Whilst there is still more to be done in order to close the gap between how green we are at home and at work, the results are certainly encouraging," acknowledged Fujitsu Siemens' Garry Owen.

"We hope that continued pressure and awareness from this emerging group of 'green collar workers' - alongside green IT directives such as WEEE and RoHS can only help to make many more UK businesses greener places to work over the next five years."