Tips for Going Green in the Workplace
“Going green” has become more than just a fad or trend, establishing itself as a persistent and necessary change. Being environmentally conscious means much more than recycling your cans and setting your thermostat at 78-degrees in the summer time; it’s a choice that affects all aspects of your lifestyle. This is the first of a three part series where Studio 602 will be looking at how you can go green at home, at the office and in the classroom. Check back each Wednesday for more ways you can do your part to reduce your environmental footprint.
Tips for Going Green in the Workplace
As you leave your driveway each morning and head to work, it can be easy to leave all of your at-home green routines behind. Yet, going green in the office may be more important than going green at home could ever be. After all, office buildings are one of the world’s leading contributors of paper and energy waste, using roughly 1200kWh of energy per day and four million tons of paper annually. While some green office practices may seem obvious, like replacing every light bulb with LED or CFL bulbs, turning off electronics when they aren’t in use or using FSC-certified pencils, there are other ways to go green in the workplace that may not be as readily apparent.
Limit yourself to printing only when it is absolutely necessary. Edit documents using your word processor’s built-in editing feature. Share forms digitally and securely using applications like Google Docs, Dropbox and HomePipe. If you need to send out a correspondence, do so via email. If something can be done on a piece of paper, chances are it can be done digitally as well. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper per year, so limiting your day-to-day paper usage shouldn’t be difficult to do.
Think Recyclable and Reusable
And we’re talking everything. Obviously, the big names like paper, plastic glass and aluminum should always be recycled, but there are also a number of office-specific items that require recycling. Printer cartridges can be recycled (and sometimes refilled). Cellphones, batteries and computers can also be recycled or reused. If you simply must print something out and it doesn’t have to be sent somewhere important, save the paper and print on the other side later. Bring in reusable cups, plates and food containers instead of using paper, plastic or Styrofoam at lunchtime. Bring a refillable water bottle for your trips to the water cooler. Almost every piece of waste that comes out of an office can either be recycled or eliminated by using reusable products, so recycle, reduce and reuse!
Think Natural Lighting
Using LEDs and CFLs helps reduce energy consumption, but using no form of electrical light reduces energy consumption even more. Open the blinds during the day to let in the natural light. Paint the walls and ceiling light colors using paints that reflect light rather than absorb it. Install a light shelf to reflect the sunlight onto the ceiling and disperse it around the room. Any time when you can cut back on energy use by using natural sunlight, seize the opportunity. Just make sure that, when you are using natural sunlight, you remember to turn off the regular lights!
Encourage Others to Think the Same Way
Whenever you send an email to your colleagues, add a line to your email signature that requests that they only print the email if absolutely necessary. Send out a memo (digitally of course!) that explains the different ways your colleagues can go green in the workplace. Lead by example by following all of the tips outlined in this article. If you make the effort to build an environmentally friendly work environment, others will follow suit. Remember, reducing our impact on the environment is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the cool thing to do, so use that to your advantage.
What are some of the green practices you bring with you to the workplace? We would love to hear about them in the comments section below!