How to Go Green at Work

1. Use less energy when working with computers. Computers and many other devices come with settings to save power. Using these settings can help more than you think, and they don’t affect the performance of the computer. Also, when you’re finished for the day, power the computer down completely. Putting it in sleep mode still uses energy. Plugging computers, printers and any other peripherals into a power strip can make turning everything off easier. Just be sure to power down computers and printers before turning off the power strip.

2. Keep it digital as much as possible. Keep your files on computers instead of in paper files. Not only does this save on the use of paper, it’s much easier to back up files on a computer and if you move offices you don’t have mountains of paper to move with you. Instead of printing out documents to review them, simply do it on screen. Send emails instead of paper letters.

3. Shop smart when you have to buy paper. When you have to buy printer paper look for recycled paper with a high percentage of post-consumer content and the minimum of chlorine bleaching. Even though recycled paper is a much better choice than new, it still uses a lot of energy, water, and chemical resources in its processing. If the company you work for ships packages, reuse boxes whenever possible, and use shredded paper as packing material.

4. Be green on your way to work. Annually, Americans spend an average of 47 hours in traffic, and waste 23 billion gallons of gas. To help lower these numbers, try carpooling, taking public transit, biking, walking or any combination. If you just can’t live without your car, try getting a hybrid or electric car, motorcycle, scooter, or try using a car sharing service. Many companies are starting to offer bonuses to employees who bike or take a carpool to work.

5. Green your wardrobe. When you think of going green, your closet probably isn’t the first place you would think to start. Buying clothes from thrift stores not only saves you money, but saves on the energy needed to produce new clothes. You would be surprised at how nice work clothes from a thrift store can look. When buying new clothes, try to get clothes made from recycled or organic fibers. Avoid clothes that require dry cleaning. If it’s a must have, find a local dry cleaner that’s eco-friendly.

6. Work from home. Telecommunication has made it possible for 44 million Americans to get work done from home. Instant messaging, video conferencing, and other tools make it possible to have video conferences, take online classes, and do many other things from home. Also, see if there is a way you can work four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days. It will save up to 20 percent in commuting costs, and you’ll get a three-day weekend.

7. Buy green materials. It’s just not possible to phase out materials completely, so think about what you’re buying. Use recycled paper and envelopes. You can find pens and pencils that are made from recycled material, and refillable pens and markers are available as well. Use biodegradable soaps, and recycled paper or cloth towels in the bathrooms and kitchens. Provide the custodial staff with biodegradable cleaning supplies. Buy in bulk so that shipping and packages wastes are reduced and reuse the shipping boxes. Recycling printer cartridges is often free and you can get recycled replacements that are cheaper than new ones.

8. Green up your workspace. There are almost an unlimited amount of ways that you can make your workspace more eco-friendly. You can find great furniture that is made from recycled materials and is also recyclable. You can replace the old incandescent bulbs with fluorescent and there is a growing selection of LED desk lamps that use almost no energy. The sun is also a great choice for lighting. Not only is it free, tests have shown that workers are more productive when there is a natural light source in the building. Use good ventilation and low VOC paints and materials to keep the air quality high.

9. Be smart at lunch time. The best way to stay green (and healthy) at lunch time is to bring your own lunch in a reusable container. If you’re going to order out, get everybody to make one large order instead of a bunch of single orders. When going out to eat, try to walk or bike if possible.

10. Get everyone involved. Tell everybody you work with your ideas about making the office greener. Get everybody involved. It only takes one person to get the ball rolling. If one person in the office starts doing some of these ideas, others will notice how simple it is to be a little easier on the environment. On top of being Eco-friendly, some of these will save you money as well. And everybody likes to save money.

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