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Dirty Work

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Brits’ efforts to be ‘green’ go out of the window the moment they leave home and set off for work, a study revealed yesterday.

A study carried out among 1,000 working adults found most are generally green at home, happily recycling as much as we can and conserving energy. But when we are at work we frequently bin unused printer paper, chuck away food wrappers and drinks cartons and even leave windows open with the heating still on. Nearly one in four said they print things out when they don’t need to, while four out of ten forget to use their company recycling bin.

This was compared to eight out of ten who separate recyclable goods from non-recyclables when at home. In fact, twice as many UK workers believe they are greener at home than they are at work despite most people wishing they were otherwise. The research was commissioned by Avery as part of Green Office Week, taking place May 14th- 18th.

Green Office Week’s Gregg Corbett said: ”With nearly half of office workers feeling that their companies do not take their environmental responsibilities seriously enough, it’s not surprising that we feel like we can’t make as big a difference at work as we can at home.

”Green Office Week aims to change all this, empowering workers across the UK to make small, practical changes to the ways in which they work.

”We spend a third of our lives at work and more than half of UK workers feel they would be noticeably happier and more positive at work if it was easier for them to be more environmentally friendly.

”With this in mind, there’s never been a better time for change.”

Eight out of ten Brits said they were disappointed that their company didn’t lead the way with more green initiatives, with one in ten claiming they had even been actively discouraged from recycling at work by their employer.

In fact, despite a quarter of UK workers saying that they would feel less loyal to a company that doesn’t want to be green, 41 per cent of  workers said they had previously found themselves in an awkward situation with their bosses for trying to positively implement green practices at work. It’s no surprise then that 40 per cent say they would avoid suggesting greener working initiatives because they wouldn’t want to be seen as ‘nagging’ or as a ‘tree hugger’, which could reflect badly on their career prospects.

Bigger organisations with more than 250 staff and very small companies were more likely to implement green strategies while mid-sized companies were the worst offenders and more likely to consider being green as something that comes at too high a price.

Gregg Corbett added: ”These findings demonstrate that many UK companies still think that they don’t have the time or finances to implement greener working practices into how they operate.

”This is despite evidence demonstrating that being green can bring cost-saving and efficiency benefits for companies.”

”I would urge workers from across the UK to take part in Green Office Week this May.

Working together we can find better ways to work that will benefit the environment, our companies and our own productivity and happiness.”


1. Chuck away paper rather than recycle it

2. Not have a recycling bin

3. Throw away food packaging

4. Throw away cans and cartons

5. Don’t print double-sided

6. Leave things on standby

7. Use products that aren’t good for the environment

8. Forget to turn off the lights when leaving the office

9. Leave the heating on and open windows

10. Don’t reuse envelopes or jiffy bags

To get involved with Green Office Week, visit 


These findings demonstrate that many UK companies still think that they don't have the time or finances to implement greener working practices into how they operate.

Green Office Week's Gregg Corbett

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