Saving water at work

The tangible aspects of saving water at work are fairly straight forward if your business is office-based:

  • define how your business uses water
  • spend some time researching water-saving equipment such as low-flow taps
  • plan for the expenditure and have them installed.

Getting a grip on your water saving potential if you are a manufacturer will take some additional investigation and analysis. But even for manufacturers, the hardest part will be to change the behavior of the people using the equipment: your co-workers. Read about the reasons why water will become scarcer, and how to get your co-workers involved in saving water.

The big picture: how water scarcity concerns you?

We live on the "blue planet": 71% of the Earth's surface is covered with water. But just around one percent of that is liquid fresh water (another two percent is contained in icecaps and glaciers). Water is a finite resource.

Take the growing world population and well over 10% of people in developing countries still without access to drinking water. Add the growing consumer demand for products that take lots of water to produce. 

credit: CC - woodleywonderworks

Then round it off with climate change issues including extreme weather such as droughts or floods, and energy production adding to the pressure on the world's water supply. You see: international water scarcity will impact your business, too - maybe directly, definitely indirectly.

The big corporations are implementing serious water saving measures in their core sustainability strategies. And it won't be long before they spread this responsibility throughout their supply chain. So there's a good chance your big clients will put pressure on you to save water soon. Might as well start the process yourself and get ahead of the competition!

First step: analyze your business's water consumption

Let's go back to your business and the actions to take. Start off by identifying how water is used in your business. Think beyond the tap. Does your equipment use water? How about cleaning? Car wash? Irrigation? Coffee making?

How to get co-workers on board

As you've probably read elsewhere on, the strategic approach is the way to go when you want to change your co-workers' behaviour. So here are some suggestions:

  • Include your business's dedication to saving water in your company values to show your stakeholders this is a goal that's here to stay.
  • Explain to your co-workers why saving water is important (see big picture reasons above and add some local aspects). Make sure they understand water is not a resource owned by your business as opposed to their private property!
  • In groups, establish water saving targets. Of course, to see if you are actually saving water, your water use needs to be measured - get current figures from accounting as a starting point. Then agree on measurable short and long-term goals.
  • Work with a few colleagues (from different departments, depending on your company's size) to establish which motivation approach fits your business the best. Your goal is to motivate your co-workers to save significant amounts of water. Must-haves: reminders in the places of water use, ideally the non-annoying kind!

Tip: Make a little contest out of creating these reminders. Contestants could be your co-workers, their kids or local artists. And to keep the reminders fresh for your co-workers, you could run this contest every year!

Motivators for your co-workers can be:

  • a water saving contest within your company: department vs. department, youngsters vs. oldies, random teams
  • a contest with another business or institution: a little tougher to measure yet likely more effective and definitely great potential for marketing!

IMPORTANT: Think about any negative competitive behavior that may be triggered by a contest!

More info about saving water at work

Read about the corporate water footprint, a tool to measure your company's water consumption.

Return to the main page of the "saving water" section.

Return to homepage.

To the top of this page.