This article includes an extract from the new book Green Made Easy: The Everyday Guide for Transitioning to a Green Lifestyle by Chris Prelitz.
Going green in the workplace doesn’t just benefit the environment, it also benefits the health and well being of employees and visitors to your place of business, and it’s cheaper! Yes that’s right, there are lots of green solutions you can make in your workplace that will actually reduce the cost of doing business.
Grab a Mug. The argument over which is better, a styrofoam or paper cup, is easily settled by using a durable ceramic mug. Pick up a secondhand mug for an even lower carbon impact.
Pay Bills Online. Paying bills online saves paper, envelopes, stamps, and all the fuel to deliver the bill twice: once for the billing statement and the other trip for the payment. An increasing number of companies are offering consumers the choice to receive bills and statements by online or by email, which means it is now possible for the whole process of paying bills to be paperless. If your business currently sends invoices by snail mail, give your customers the choice of receiving their invoice by email instead.
Telecommute. If your job involves a lot of time in front of a computer or on the phone, suggest telecommuting as a way to have your company reduce traffic, parking congestion, and its carbon footprint. Start with a telecommute-day experiment. Then go to one day a week, and if it works for everyone, keep on going. Working parents will really appreciate the possibilities this offers.
Get on the Paperless Path. The paperless office can save trees, energy, and a whole lot of storage space, as well as increase productivity. The philosophy is to use a minimal amount of paper and convert all documents to digital form. You’ll need a scanner, so look for an efficient Energy Star–rated one. A possible snag you’ll need to weigh is the longevity of digital—that is, will you be able to access your files in the future? Australia has started a program with the goal of having businesses cut paper use by 20 percent. See www.projectpaperless.com.au.
Develop a Paper-Purchasing and Use Policy. Setting up a paper-use policy that everyone in your household supports can save money and environmental resources. Your policy will be unique to your concerns, but might include:
- Setting all printers for duplex mode to print on both sides.
- Purchasing 100 percent postconsumer paper.
- Buying tree-free paper when appropriate.
- Recycling all paper.
Kill Those Power Vampires. Sometimes called “phantom loads” or “idle current,” power vampires refer to power that’s being used mainly by electronic equipment and appliances 24/7 even if it’s turned off . Chapter 19 has a full description of phantom loads and how to keep them from sucking power and the associated environmental and financial expenses.
Use Energy-Efficient Task Lighting. Replace those obsolete incandescent bulbs with either compact fluorescents or LEDs (light-emitting diodes). You’ll save energy and also cut down on unwanted heat that’s produced by traditional incandescent bulbs. And see if your lighting can be optimized to be focused just where you need it for the task at hand, instead of lighting up an entire room when you don’t need to.
Refill Ink Cartridges. That $80 printer may not be such a great deal when you find out that the individual ink cartridges cost over $30 each! Refill kits are much cheaper and are available from department stores and office suppliers. Refilling an ink cartridge can be a bit messy, so make sure you do it over a sink, and wear gloves and old clothing just in case.
Recycle Old E-waste. One downside of the computer age is that computers, televisions, cell phones, fax machines, stereos, and other electronic equipment all contain hazardous materials. There are about four pounds of lead and other harmful materials in computer monitors and TVs alone. The good news is that it has become cost effective to mine e-waste for the silver, gold, and other precious metals. So recycle now rather than mine e-waste later.
Green Cleaners. Replace any cleaners, solvents, or solutions with nontoxic versions. If a warning lable says “harmful or fatal if swallowed”, it’s a good bet it’s a highly toxic product and it’s probably best to find a healthy alternative for cleaning the office.
Stop Toxins at the Door. Place a large, durable doormat at every exterior door to catch some of the microbes and toxins that are tracked in from pesticides, fertilisers and residual oils on pavements and walkways. Avoid mats that shed, such as coco and sisal, as these can allow soiled or contaminated fibres inside. Keep mats clean by shaking them out regularly.
Always Recycle. It is estimated that 40 percent of office paper still ends up in landfills. Wherever possible, use both sides of the paper and then recycle it when you’re done. If your workplace doesn’t currently offer a recycling program, start one today.
You’ll find many more simple green solutions for the home and workplace in Chris Prelitz’s book, Green Mady Easy.
This article includes an extract from the new book Green Made Easy: The Everyday Guide for Transitioning to a Green Lifestyle by Chris Prelitz – reproduced here with permission.