Make Your Office Green In Less Than 10 Minutes
Making your office “green” or starting a environmental policy for company is easy! In fact you can get started and have a significant change in your office environmental thinking in less than 10 minutes. These are 10 extremely simple steps that you can implement immediately without much effort.
- Purchasing Power - Purchase office supplies that are recycled and/or compostable but also items that come from renewable resources. There are many web sites and even “brick and mortar” stores that carry a huge line and selection of these products. Not only that, but eco-friendly products cost just about the same as regular products. An easy way to make a huge difference without really do much… you’re just buying differently. Check out www.thegreenoffice.comfor a great selection of eco-friendly products.
- Vampire Electronics- No, we are not talking about something that stalks the night in search of blood. This is much worse. Vampire electronics (aka Vampire Power) is a term given to all of those electronics that you have running in your house and office at night - digital clocks, computers, cell phone being charged (that is fully charged within an hour), calculator… items that draw power even though they aren’t being used. Fact: Did you know that in the US alone, 5% of our energy usage comes from vampire power? This is about $1.72 billion in wasted energy costs and contributes 14.4 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution to the atmosphere. Turn off or unplug all unneeded electronic items at night and you will cut down on your energy usage with very little effort. Turn off your computer, calculators, and all unnecessary lights. Unplug your cell phone once it is charged (cell phones still suck energy even when they are fully charged). Do you really need that coffee pot plugged in with the time blinking 12:00 all day and night? Little things add up!
- Air Conditioning for Ghosts - You might like your office at 65 degrees during the day, but is it necessary to have it that cold for 15 hours at night? Turn off the office air conditioner or set it to 78 degrees at night. Another money and energy saver that just takes a little remembering. We have a small sign on the office door that reads “The last one to leave the office tonight, please set the thermostat to 78 degrees (and turn out the lights)”. It is a quick and easy reminder.
- Styrofoam Coffee Cups - 1000’s of years of waste for 15 minutes of enjoyment - Wow, we have become a wasteful society. It seems like you can get everything in “Disposable” nowadays. Most offices have a break room that offer their employees’ coffee, snacks, etc. Get rid of the Styrofoam and try using compostable/recyclable cups, plates, straws, forks, and napkins. Eco-friendly products have come a long way in price and quality. Just about all eco-friendly products cost about the same and are just as sturdy. We (Trusted Tours and Attractions) use an Oregon outfit called Trellis Earth products in our office. They offer a great line of these products - www.trellisearth.com (firstname.lastname@example.org). Or better yet, have everyone in your office bring a coffee mug (or plate, utensils, etc.) from home and reuse it! Does it really take that long to wash your cup out?
- The Blue Can- Speaking of disposable, have separate garbage cans for recyclable items directly beside the main garbage can. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy… just a separate can with “Recycled Cans and Bottles Only” sign on it or a can in a different color. Blue seems to be the flying color of recycling so that’s not a bad choice either. If you take the extra effort, have everyone put two waste paper baskets by their desks; one for garbage the other for recyclables (the easier you make it the better!) You will be amazed at how much stuff thrown out can be recycled. It’s mind boggling!
- Don’t Forget the Paper! - I can remember when everyone said that the computer is going to replace paper. Hmmm, I think that, unfortunately, the opposite has happened. For some reason, it seems that more “stuff” is being printed and a lot of paper is wasted. In addition to the recycling cans in the break room, set aside a Paper Bin for recycling paper. Also, on your emails, encourage others to “consider the earth when printing this email”
- Print Cartridges - Recycle them! Many office supply stores offer the ability to recycle used print cartridges for free. Set aside a box for print cartridges to be thrown into and have someone take it with them to the office supply store the next time they need to go get paper.
- Computers and Other Toxic Junk - Make sure that when you discard your old computer, printer, monitor, telephone, calculators, batteries, and any other electronics that you take the very small effort and make sure that it disposed of properly. Most communities have places that you can take used computers and electronics for disposal. There is a lot of toxic materials used in electronics, such as mercury and lead, that can leech into the soil if not properly disposed of. Better yet, consider donating your old electronics and let someone else reuse it! Check out this link for more information on what to do with your old electronics in your area http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/recycle/ecycling/donate.htm#local
- That’s a Bright Idea- OK, excuse the lame title but it is an easy way to help the environment and save money at the same time. When your office bulbs go out, change them with fluorescent bulbs. You can get these bulbs just about anywhere (Home Depot, Ace, Lowes, etc) and they last a heck of a lot longer. They cost just a few dollars more but your savings in energy use and replacements will pay for itself in a matter of months. If you have the long tube fluorescent bulbs, purchase the ones that do not have mercury in them (An average fluorescent tube contains as much as 40mg of mercury). These bulbs can be quickly found as they have green, metallic ends.
- Tell Everyone!- A little self promoting is probably one of the best things you can do. Not only is it good business to tell everyone that you are an eco-friendly company but setting an example will encourage other businesses to take the same simple measures. If everyone did what you have decided to do… something amazing is sure to happen.
See, now isn’t that really simple? We are living in an age where action is no longer a suggestion. It is required! But, it takes EVERYONE’S participation!
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