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15 Ways to be Green at Work

Follow these tips to make your day at the office as green as possible.

A greener workplace can mean a lighter carbon footprint, and a more healthy place to work. Whether you’re the boss or the employee, there are plenty of ways you can make your office more green, including recycling, using green materials, and reducing waste. These energy-saving tips apply to your home and office and will help jump-start your efforts to turn your workplace green.

  1. Reduce paper waste. Reduce paper waste by going paperless, wherever possible. Try to avoid printing anything unnecessary or sending company updates via faxes or snail mail. Limit your office to just one copy of magazines or catalogs. Or, better yet, get an online subscription. This saves money, limits clutter, and reduces the amount of paper you use.

  1. Recycle. There are plenty of materials around your office that you can recycle. If you don’t have a recycling system at work, start your own. Recycling paper, cardboard, soda cans, plastic bottles, plastic bags, ink cartridges, and edible items helps to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  1. Bike or carpool to work. Transportation accounts for nearly 30 percent of greenhouse gas emission with cars and trucks driving nearly one-fifth of that emission. Joining a carpool reduces the amount of cars on the road and biking to work saves on gas (and gives you some exercise for the day).

  1. Use green materials. Fill your office with recycled, environmentally-friendly materials. Buy pens, pencils, and papers that are made from recycled materials. Refillable pens and markers are also green options. Use biodegradable soaps and recycled paper towels in bathrooms. Buying these materials in bulk reduces shipping and packaging waste, which further benefits the environment.

  1. Upgrade to LED. Replace all T12 fluorescent lights with energy efficient lights such as T8s or LED lights. LED lights use 80 percent less energy than traditional lighting and only waste 5 percent of the energy on heat. With a longer life span and a higher distribution of light, fewer light bulbs are needed to light your office, using less energy. Of course, keeping off the lights whenever possible, reduces the power bill and heating needs of your office, conserving energy.

  1. Enable power-saving features. Optimizing the energy settings for computers and other devices can be a great energy saver. In fact, 75 percent of electricity consumed is standby power used to keep electronics running when those appliances are “off.” By enabling power-saving features and completely shutting down your appliances, you reduce the machine’s CO2 emissions and save power.

  1. Replace disposable kitchen items. Instead of using paper products in the breakroom, use reusable items instead. Purchasing reusable materials, such as a set of plates, cups, and utensils for your breakroom not only saves money on office supplies, but reduces the amount of waste that needs to be recycled or sent to landfills.

  1. Get a plant for your desk. Getting an office plant provides a natural filter for your workspace. It helps remove the pollutants created by your computer and helps to cool the air around your desk. Indoor plants can help remove 10 percent of carbon dioxide in offices.

  1. Brown bag your lunch. Instead of going out to eat, bring your own food. This helps to cut down the tremendous amount of waste and packaging that restaurants produce daily. There are plenty of ways to brown bag, including using reusable materials, bringing leftovers, and going vegetarian. Each of these help to reduce waste and lessens the impact on the environment.

  1. Take the stairs. Taking the stairs is a simple and healthy energy-saving alternative to taking the elevator. Lifts might require the mining of uranium or fossil fuels, which can increase the amount of greenhouse gases. Ditching the elevator saves up to 33 pounds of CO2 every month and saves about 100 watts of energy.

  1. Telecommute. The telecommuting policies of Dell, Aetna, and Xerox cumulatively saved 95,254 metric tons of greenhouse gases. By allowing employees to telecommute, each company was able to reduce paper waste, the consumption of energy, and heating oil. Telecommuting also keeps you off the road, which lessens CO2 emissions.

  1. Use multi-purpose machines. Each piece of office equipment you use produces heaps of toxic substances in both the manufacturing and disposal stages. The fewer office machines you use, the smaller your footprint is. Using multi-purpose machines that handle copying, printing, and faxing reduces cable clutter and energy savings from powering only one machine.

  1. Compost your coffee grounds. There’s a lot of ways to make your office green, but composting your coffee grounds is one of the most effective. Their high-nutrient content is needed for the soil and is a great alternative to nitrogen-rich manure. Using filters that are biodegradable and made from natural fiber make a great addition to any compost pile.

  1. Use non-toxic cleaning products. Most cleaning products contain hazardous chemicals that are harmful to the environment. There are plenty of environmentally-friendly cleaning products that reduce pollution to waterways, avoid releasing harmful chemicals, and are packaged in recyclable material.

  1. Introduce natural light. It doesn’t make sense to have the lights on if the sun is shining, so turn them off. Consider re-arranging your workspace to allow for better flow of natural lighting. Using natural lighting can decrease energy costs by up to 75 percent. It also allows your office to use less artificial light, less heat, and less air conditioning.

Helping your office go green is a lot easier than you think. Implementing the quick tips above help you reduce waste, save energy, and reduce your environmental footprint. A green office not only helps the environment, but it also benefits your employees. Employees who work for a green office are generally more productive, happier, and healthier.

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