Bring up the topic of green living and people think recycling and light bulbs. These are, of course, important parts of caring for the environment, but they are not the only things each of us can do to save, reduce and reuse resources.
The office presents several opportunities to lessen our personal impact on the world around us.
- Cut back on paper use. Writer’s use a lot of paper, including to hand -edit pieces. That’s why it’s important to keep a bin next to the printer to deposit used paper. The paper is can be reused for back-side printing, notes, lists and coloring for the kids.
- Invest in recycled paper. Prices are now more reasonable than ever. Keep an eye out for sales at your favorite office supply store and stock up when possible.
- Digitize bills, bank statements, invoices, etc. Much of our waste and clutter problems stem from incoming mail that can easily switch to electronic files. Often companies will give consumers a discount for the switch from paper to electronic billing.
- Ban pesky receipts. There are several programs that allow you to digitize your receipts – my fave is Shoeboxed.com – eliminating the need to keep bunches of paper. Make sure any app or service you choose uses IRS approved methods.
Put your money in green – products and services. There is a huge variety of recycled goods on the market for offices including file folders, organizers, calendars, etc. A little bit of research will go a long way to find products that fit in tight budgets.
Product control also means controlling the amount of energy electronic products consume. A quick way to keep energy usage low – plug all of your electronic devices into a power strip. At night, hit the switch and cut phantom energy use!
- Reuse ink cartridges. Instead of tossing a spent cartridge have it refilled. When a cartridge can no longer be refilled, dispose of it properly. Use local cartridge recycling centers and many ‘big box’ stores provide the service, free of charge.
- Donate old goods and electronics. Much of the waste in our landfills is electronic waste and things that could be recycled. Both office furniture and electronic goods can be passed onto shelters and thrift stores. Electronics not in good condition can be dropped off at any electronic recycling operation. These centers repair, repurpose and properly dispose of the hazardous parts of our gadgets.
- Cut the flushes. If you work from home this item is easier to implement. Save water and resources by following the old adage “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.” It’ll also save loads on your water bill!
It doesn’t take a lot of effort or money to change your office into a green one. It’s almost as easy as putting on a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” pin.
What tips do you have for greening up an office?
Alex Colgan says
Another old toilet trick is to put a bottle full of water in the toilet tank — that cuts down on your usage per flush! Also, loved the bit about colouring for the kids; my daughter loves printer test pages!
Terreece Clarke says
I’ve used that one before Alex, I forgot about that tip!
Gayla Baer-Taylor says
I’ve done just about everything I possibly can to make my work habits and home a little brighter shade of green. Great tips – thanks! 🙂
Terreece Clarke says
That’s great Gayla, a lot of people get stuck on not being a huge company but all of us can make a big difference!
Chris Vanasdalan says
I try not to print unless I absolutely have to. When I do I always use “used” paper. I used to work for a local TV station that sadly didn’t recycle old scripts. We went through thousands of sheets of paper every morning.
So when I knew i was leaving to go freelance I started stashing old scripts in the trunk of my car. Most of them have almost nothing printed on the except for a camera shot, or instructions for the director.
I use this massive stash for all in-office printing, and save the commercial recycled stuff for client material.
There are countless businesses that don’t recycle paper. It’s worth checking out your neighborhood and seeing if there are any offices willing to let you take some off their hands.
Terreece Clarke says
Great idea Chris! I never thought about getting paper from other companies!
Great list! Drink water from the tap, unless, of course, you’re traveling to a country where it’s necessary to buy bottled water. Unplug unused electronics to save on electricity and your electric bill. Invest in solar panels to cut down on running the air conditioning in the summer, especially if you live in a HOT area like Arizona.