10 Small Ways You Can Be Greener at Work

Going green at work

As Kermit the Frog said, it's not easy being green. But it has gotten a lot easier to go green than it used to be. In support of America Recycles Day (November 15), here are 10 ways to help make your workplace a green business. 

1. Cut back on printing

The average American office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year, according to the Sierra Club. Cut that number down drastically by asking your staff to consider keeping important files in PDF form on their computers rather than printing them. If they must print something, ask them to go double-sided whenever possible. Print in color only when necessary, and save misprints for note paper. Campaign for your office to buy 100% recycled chlorine-free paper.

2. Add some green to your workspace

Adding a plant to your workspace does more than spruce it up a bit. Research shows plants not only remove toxins from the air but also increase your employees’ satisfaction and relaxation at work.

3. Put your computer to sleep

Nationally, standby power wastes $10 billion worth of electricity a year. How’s that for affecting your bottom line? Getting your staff into the habit of setting their computers to go to sleep during short breaks can cut energy use significantly. Ask them to turn off their computers and power strips, too when you leave for the day — strips still use energy as long as they’re on.

4. Travel green

Educate your staff on the virtues of carpooling, walking, biking, telecommuting or riding the bus, train or subway instead of driving. It’s better for the planet — and their wallets.

5. Turn off unused lights

Artificial lighting accounts for 44 percent of energy use in office buildings. Think about how much in overhead costs you could save by asking your staff to turn off unneeded lights and by buying Energy Star-rated light bulbs and fixtures. Open blinds during the cold months to let warmth in, and close them when it’s warm to keep out the sun’s heat.

6. Recycle paper, plastic and metals

Aim to recycle all of the office paper your office uses. Implement a program to recycle drink bottles and cans, food containers, ink and toner cartridges, and anything else. Ask staff to place small recycling containers under their desks and large ones elsewhere in the office.

7. Eat green

Here’s one for you and your staff as well: In addition to saving as much as $3,000 a year by not going out to eat every day for lunch, it can make your lunchtime greener, too. Pack your food in a reusable lunch bag or box and use reusable containers and silverware, not plastic. Aim to eat fresh and local food rather than frozen meals with excessive packaging.

8. Recycle electronic waste

Start a program to encourage your employees to recycle or donate those old laptops, monitors, towers and phones instead of adding them to the landfill. You could get office supply perks by going with companies such as Staples or Office Depot, or find your local e-recycling drop-off.

9. Donate old office furniture

When you finally upgrade to your dream Aeron chair, donating your old desk setup to a charity such as Goodwill will keep it out of the landfill and help someone in need. Make it a habit to do the same with all of the old office furniture your staff uses. Do even better and purchase office furniture made from recycled material.

10. Be a green machine

Being more environmentally aware at the office can start off small. Encourage your staff to use nontoxic cleaning products to clean their desk areas. You can increase your awareness efforts by including a green message in your email signature, such as “Consider the environment before printing this email.” And ask your employees to do the same.

What do you do at the office to be more green? Let us know in the comments section.

Tags: Workplace