Going Green at the Office

Making your office more environmentally friendly, or “green,” has numerous benefits. The overhaul cuts utility costs, limits excess waste, promotes a more sustainable product chain, and prevents adding more non-degradable trash into the ocean’s landfills. Some people might lead you to believe that greening up the work place will be a monumental hassle like when Congress bickered about using recyclable cups, plates and forks instead of Styrofoam. But the truth is going green is a mostly hassle-free project that you can begin accomplishing with only a few changes.

Energy Efficiency
Being energy efficient in the workplace takes many shapes and forms. One of the best methods of energy conservation is by installing Energy Star appliances and light fixtures. Energy Star products are able to use up to 70 percent less electricity than older technology, which can significantly cut down on the cost of utilities. Another option is to replace any artificial lighting with incandescent bulbs to energy-efficient florescent bulbs, which can use up to two-thirds less electricity. Also be sure to turn off any lights when nobody is using the room. Offices spend an average of 44 percent of their annual energy usage on artificial lighting. By ensuring colleagues remember to turn off lights as they leave a room and are using eco-friendly bulbs , you’re on the right path to greening up the office. If people seem to forget about switching off lights, install a motion sensor that turns off the lights after a certain amount of time without recognizing movement.

Along the lines of turning electronics off, one of the areas excess electricity waste comes from is computer usage. It’s estimated that nearly $1billion is wasted in workplaces because employees fail to turn off computers after using them. The thing many people don’t realize is even though they might not be actively using the computer, without simply turning off any computer electronics, or at least putting it the computer and monitor in sleep mode, the devices are still drawing on plenty of energy. Setting up a universal battery usage plan to place computers in sleep after 10 or 15 minutes of inactivity can make a big difference.

Limiting Resource Waste
The printer is a common enemy of making an eco-friendly office. The average US office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of printer paper per year, so it’s incredibly important to use that paper wisely. Make a habit of recycling paper by printing notes, faxes or drafts on the back of previously printed papers. Also be sure to purchase chlorine-free paper that has a high percentage of post-consumer product materials, which means the paper is partially made from recycled materials.

Recently, Staples started selling 100 percent recycled paper towels. 60 percent post consumer and 40 percent post industrial waste. No trees used!

Remanufactured ink cartridges are another excellent option when looking at making a green office. Each recycled cartridge keeps about two-and-a-half pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills, plus it saves half a gallon of oil.

Also, please recycle your old cell phones, tablets or devices. You can recycle at Goodwill Stores or at ecoATM kiosks across the country.

Another way to tackle resource waste is digitize everything. Avoid printing anything if you can. User manuals or meeting agendas can be posted online or added to a work computer’s hard drive. Also, place a few recycle bins around the office for paper and aluminum cans. That way if you need to print something, at least it can be recycled when you’re done with it.

Outside of printing, food and food preparation also produces a lot of waste. Consider looking to biodegradable eating supplies for the kitchen or break room. There are various companies that sell eco-friendly cups, plates, bowls, spoons and forks. Also look into supplying filtered water instead of bottled, and post a recycling fact sheet in the dining areas.

Be Resourceful
When you’re choosing products for the office, whether it is printer paper, pens, computer equipment or food supplies, try to find products that are made from recycled materials. This promotes conservation and keeps trash from clogging up the ocean on landfills. Make sure everybody at the office also has their own personal cup or mug for coffee, water or tea. It’s amazing how much refuse can be cut out by encouraging employees to use re-usable objects instead of disposable ones.20140625-161446-58486801.jpg

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