As you move towards a greener lifestyle, greening your office is important too. Whether you work from home or away, follow the simple steps below.
- When possible, use energy star equipment – computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, coffee makers, etc. – for maximum energy efficiency.
- Recycle print cartridges at office supply stores and use soy ink cartridges, which require less oil to manufacture and emit fewer air pollutants.
- Keep your screen saver blank instead of the energy hogging, hypnotic graphics ones. They aren’t good for our eyes anyway!
- Paper copies are less important these days, but if you do have to print something, print on both sides of the paper – most printers have a 2-sided property – and use recycled paper. Also, set your printer to economy mode or eco-tone. Most new printers have this setting, which uses less ink.
- If your office is not already recycling used paper, set up a recycling center (for cans, bottles and plastic too) and organize a weekly or monthly pick up from a local recycling company. Or, reuse unwanted paper for scrap paper.
- For interoffice memos, use email rather than paper. Most offices already do that and even email is becoming antiquated with Facebook messaging, google chatting and texting!
- In your office kitchen, install a water filter system instead of using individual water bottles or big plastic water containers.
- The average American goes through 500 disposable cups every year, so use ceramic mugs, not polystyrene (Styrofoam®) or plastic cups for coffee or water. Use real spoons instead of plastic stirrers. Set up a recycling center in the kitchen too.
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with longer lasting, energy-efficient CFLs (compact fluorescents) or LED bulbs.
- Clean your office with green cleaning supplies.
- Reuse old packaging materials for shipping.
- Houseplants are effective air cleaners, removing indoor air pollutants. Place several plants near your printers, fax and photocopiers. They add beauty and tranquility as well.
- When remodeling your office, use natural materials for furniture and carpet and low VOC paints instead of man-made laminates, synthetic materials and conventional paints that outgas toxins.
- When possible, ride public transportation, walk, bike or carpool to work. You’ll save energy and start the day in a more relaxed way.
We spend most of our time at work, so setting up a green office is an important step to using less energy and leading a healthier lifestyle. If your office isn’t as eco-friendly as it should be, take the lead and become the green czar in your office. A little initiative goes a long way!