During the week, most people spend more time at work then they do at home. Spending 40 hours a week or more at your job provides you with an incredible opportunity to educate and encourage green living among your co-workers. If you are looking for the most practical ways to green your office, start with these ten simple steps:
If your work already recycles, you can still improve current recycling standards, such as making it easier and more visible to encourage people to participate. For example, make sure the recycling bins are in clear view and in obvious locations. Have a separate container for each type of recyclable, such as plastic, paper and aluminum. If your office doesn’t offer recycling, talk with your HR department or office manager to see what it would take to implement a recycling program.
Using LED lights
LED lights use a quarter of the energy of standard light bulbs and last much longer while providing the same amount of light. Take note of the type of bulbs your office currently uses. If you notice they’re using standard light bulbs, write up a proposal and send it to the top. Demonstrate in your proposal how much money and energy can be saved with statistics and viable sources. If it is going to save the company money, the switch will most likely be seriously considered.
Using Energy Star computers
Energy Star was a program started by the U.S. Government in the 1990s to highlight various electronic devices that use significantly less energy to operate compared to standard electronics. Many offices have opted to purchase Energy Star computers because of the savings in the electric bill, but some companies are stuck on outdated computers that in the end still cost the business more money. Another option is to use a laptop computer instead of desktop. An Energy Star laptop can use up to 90% less energy than a standard desktop (depending on the model).
Use recycled office products
It is easy to find recycled office products, such as copying paper, notepads, folders, napkins and bathroom tissue. Many suppliers now offer recycled paper products for the same rate, or cheaper, as compared to unrecycled office products. Using recycled products will also help staff think about the planet more frequently.
Turn it off
Make it office policy to turn off all electronics during lunch periods, meetings and at the end of the day. You can create a program where various people in the office can volunteer to turn off and unplug the fax machines, computers, copy machines and other electronics at the end of the day. Unplugging the machines will prevent energy usage that occurs even in sleep modes (vampire energy
). You can also make it company policy to turn off computer screens when not in use during bathroom breaks or other periods of time.
Set eco-friendly kitchen standards
Aside from placing recycling bins in an easy-to-see area of the kitchen, you can also encourage people to get away from using disposable plates, cups and other dishware. If disposable items are necessary, choose to stock the cabinets with corn-based compostable products or recycled items.
Use natural light when possible
Natural light doesn’t cost anything, it won’t use any energy and it is better for mental health. It’s a win-win, no matter how you spin it. Take a look at where the windows are located in the building and what type of shades or blinds are currently on them. Talk to people with a creative edge or those that have an eye for interior design. Brainstorm a few solid ideas and then present them to the office manager or your boss. Think about how you can take advantage of the natural light and turn off the ceiling lights.
Organize a carpool group among co-workers. Get permission to send out a companywide email to gather people who are interested in participating in a carpool. Find a person who is good with logistics to organize the various people and locations. You can present the idea by highlighting the financial advantages and the positive impact it has on the environment.
Print only when it is essential
The ability to present most things digitally is a much better option than using paper. For example, if you need to show a group of people an idea, send it via email as opposed to printing one out for each person. Use PowerPoint in meetings and have someone take notes on a laptop instead of using paper.
Replace toxic cleaning products
Not only are traditional cleaning products highly toxic, which can have a negative effect on a person’s health, but they also harm the environment. Talk with your janitorial department about the option of switching to natural cleaning products. Even if the company can’t switch all the products, you can always replace the kitchen dish soap and cleaning products in your personal area with your own natural products.