(NZ's biggest architectural firm)
It's not just the health of staff that suffers from the overuse of toxic cleaning chemicals - it's the health of the environment too.
Just think of what we're washing down the drain. Cleaning chemicals can have a highly destructive environmental impact.
Bleaches, disinfectants, chlorine based cleaners, dyes or phosphates and other nasty chemicals can be highly toxic.
The toxins often don't break down in sewerage treatment and then get washed into our pristine waterways, reaching our rivers, lakes and seas.
Ingredients can cause algal blooms and result in dead zones when they reach water sources.
On a scary note, they often don't effectively bio-degrade and can get back into the food we source from our waterways, and cause things like long term repoductive damage.
NZ relies on its 100% pure reputation - we want to help keep it that way!
How to green your office
1. Greenery! Add some fresh plants to the space. They don't just look pretty, they absorb VOCs and indoor air pollution.
2. Recycle it. From magazines and manila folders to plain paper and post-it notes. Manufacturing recycled paper generates 74% less air pollution than creating paper from scratch and saves trees, water and energy.
3. Recycle more! Paper is a nice start but don't limit yourself. Plastic, glass bottles, printer cartridges and old cellphones can all be recycled. Make it a policy to place recycling bins in accessible, high-traffic areas and provide clear information about what can and can't be recycled.
3. Get a worm farm. Don't put your banana skins, apple cores, tea bags or food scraps in the bin. Set up an office worm farm to get rid of all your organic waste and then divvy up the worm juice and compost for your home (or office) garden. It's pure gold for your vege patch!
4. Switch it off. Lots of appliances still suck up energy when they're turned off.
If you leave your mobile phone charger or laptop adapter plugged into the wall they can leak more than 20 watts of power. Plug office equipment into a power strip instead and turn it off at night and on weekends.
If you're off for a short break or lunch set your computer to sleep mode automatically to cut energy use by 70 percent. Screen savers don't save energy.
Remember to turn off the lights when you're leaving a room for 15 minutes or more and utilise natural light when you can.
5.Pick green cleaners. Have a shiny clean office doesn't need to compromise the health of our streams and waterways.
Make it a habit to only use environmentally-friendly cleaners, preferable those with a third party certification like the Environmental Choice mark.
Refuse to use products that contain Bleaches, disinfectants, chlorine, dyes or phosphates and nasty volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
6. Switch to Fair Trade and organic coffee and tea and help lift producers in developing countries out of poverty and support sustainable food production at the same time. For a list of Fairtrade suppliers visit www.fairtrade.net.nz
7. Reduce rubbish. Provide filtered drinking water to reduce bottled-water waste.
8. Go VOC free. Make it a policy to buy furniture, carpet and paint that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and won't off-gas toxic chemicals.
How much impact does it have?
Conventional cleaning products are really bad for rivers, lakes and wetlands; as well as contributing to smog and acid rain.
They contribute to toxic algal blooms and severe consequences to aquatic life e.g disrupting fish reproduction and growth - some of which we then eat!
The other big side effect is air pollution, which as well as having a number of major health side effects, also contributes to smog.
In California they have estimated that almost 10% of all non-vehicular VOCs come from cleaning products.
Governments in proactive places such as western Europe are banning one product after another in an effort to clean these problems up.
The Clean Planet difference