in the workplace involves taking steps, from how you use products on a daily
basis to decisions you make on your lunch break. A green workplace starts with
conscious efforts that, one by one, lead to a powerful impact.
Think Before Printing
sheets. That’s how much copy paper the typical office worker uses in one year
in the United States. Before you print, ask yourself how necessary it is; will
an online version serve the same purpose? Being green means being digital as
much as possible; when you really can’t avoid printing, choose recycled paper
and print double-sided copies.
home cuts the commute. Advances in technology have transformed the way in which
we work and communicate. Through digital communication—phone conferences and
email—many jobs don’t require people to physically commute into the office. If
you’re unable to work from home five days a week, consider speaking with your
boss about working from home one day a week or reshaping your work week to
four, 10-hour days.
Computer Settings & Equipment
office, the computer is the keeper of files and the means of most communication.
Along with its accessories (printers, scanners, etc.), that’s a lot of power
being used on a daily basis. At the end of the day, shutting down the computer
(as opposed to logging off) saves energy and ensures that your computer takes a
rest at night. And remember to turn off the lights too—artificial lighting
sucks up 44 percent of electricity in offices.
office green by using products that display the Energy Star approval for energy efficiency. These
products use 30 to 75 percent less electricity, compared with other office
equipment on the market. Energy Star cites promising results in recent years: “Americans,
with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved enough energy in 2010 alone to avoid
greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars—all while
saving nearly $18 billion on their utility bills.”
supplies, from eco-friendly furniture to shipping materials and pencils, can be
found at the following locations:
What You Eat
browsers are open on the desktop, one hand mindlessly scrolling the mouse,
while the other robotically stuffs whatever available snack you could find into
your mouth. If this sounds all too familiar, maybe it’s time to do some green
thinking concerning your food. Take advice from writer Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food. He warns against the
dangers of digital surfing or other such distractions during mealtimes,
pointing out that the “food” most of us are eating is anything but. Multitasking
and hectic schedules sidetrack us from making healthy choices, and more likely
to grab packaged snacks.
all other meals, in fact—deserve a time and place set aside for one thing, and
one thing only: to eat a meal. Not to hurriedly stuff anything in your face
while scanning the Web, but to thoughtfully savor the food before you. Pollan’s
thinking follows that conscious eating comes from conscious meal-planning.
How You Eat
with an updated twist to brown bagging. Nylon lunch sacks (available
online at The Container Store) mimic the look of the classic brown bag but
provide a reusable—and stylish—option. Bringing a homemade lunch to work or
school in reusable containers is not only healthier, it also eliminates
Keep a water
bottle handy for hydration—and waste-saving—and use a coffee mug for caffeine
refills (all those trips to the corner café contribute to heaps of empty coffee
cups). Instead of plastic utensils, opt for utensils provided in the office
kitchen or keep a set of your own that you
can reuse. On the days when you do eat out, take a stroll instead of driving to
your lunch spot.
determination to go green at work is important, but so is how you choose to get
there. Whether you live in a major metropolis, teeming with public transit
options, or a suburban area, you have many options to conserve energy—carpool,
bike, walk, or take the subway.
other people in the office who can help form a shared commute? Organize a
carpool or a group bike commute. It may not seem like much of an impact when
you consider only your single effort. But creating a combined and growing effort
can save eight billion gallons of gas per year in the United States if every car
carries one extra person.
More Green Tips
- Recycle: Locate local recycling or donation services for paper,
bottles, cans, compost, and printing cartridges and other electronic items.
- Choose Fair
Trade: Select fair trade suppliers for your office’s coffee and tea,
as well as other products like tote bags or T-shirts.
- Keep it
Fun: Implementing changes will take
time. Encouraging office colleagues to go green and maintaining office pride in
your efforts will keep your green campaign a rewarding path toward success.