We must make better choices in what we consume and how we produce and use energy. What may be surprising is that saving the planet doesn’t necessarily mean giving up the things you love; both you and the planet can benefit!
“Going green” is becoming a way of life. Your office doesn’t need to be an exception.
Fortunately, it’s easy to integrate some simple routines into your workday that will help lessen your impact on the earth. The bonus is that with most of them you will end up saving money too.
Green ideas for office supplies and furniture
- Buy green products such as pens that can be refilled repeatedly.
- Cut down on products for which there are no green alternatives, such as rubber bands.
- Recycle your old equipment and furniture instead of throwing them away.
- Some paper use can’t be avoided, so use recycled paper and envelopes that have been processed and coloured using eco-friendly methods.
Green Ideas for printers
- Install timers on printers to ensure that they shut down during out-of-office hours.
- Save paper by not printing, whenever possible. Put a prominent sign up in the office to remind users to print only when necessary.
- Use your printer’s eco-mode if it has one.
- Recycle your used ink and toner cartridges.
- Reduce paper waste by going digital. When you do print, print double-sided on 100% recycled paper and provide multitude recycle bins around the office so employees aren’t tempted to dump paper in trash cans.
- Set up a printer-friendly reminder for staff email signatures, for example, “Please consider the environment before printing this email.”
Green ideas for computers
- The greenest paper is no paper at all, so keep things digital. The more you do online, the less you need paper. Keep files on computers instead of in file cabinets.
- Review documents onscreen rather than printing them out.
- Send emails instead of paper letters.
- Turn off your computer when not in use.
- Check computer settings for standby mode. If computers are unused for periods of time, they should be set to go into standby mode.
- Upgrade your hardware components instead of getting completely new computers.
- Invest in automatic power shut down software or plugs to switch off IT equipment during out of office hours.
Green ideas for lighting
- Turn the lights off in rooms when not in use.
- Replace standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED bulbs wherever possible. These use 75% less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs while delivering the same light output.
- Do not leave your office lights on overnight.
- Use light wall colours. Light paint colours and higher gloss sheens reflect daylight, meaning your space will need less overhead lighting.
- Use daylight − instead of the office lights − whenever you can.
Green ideas for washrooms and kitchenettes
- Buy natural products for the bathrooms and kitchen.
- Always turn off taps completely, ensuring that they don’t drip. A tap leaking at a rate of only one drop per second can waste more than 25 litres of water a day – that’s about 10 000 litres a year.
- Get continually running toilets fixed. They’re huge water wasters and it could be just a simple fix.
- Buy in bulk so that shipping and packaging waste are reduced, and reuse the shipping boxes.
- Use non-disposable kitchen supplies, such as coffee mugs and glasses, instead of plastic or paper ones.
General green ideas for the office
- Place a recycling centre in a prominent location in your office.
- Compost coffee grounds if possible.
- Make sure your office has at least one large plant in it. They’re not only green and pretty but great for recycling the air.
- Use whiteboards and/or overhead projectors to display meeting agendas rather than printing and distributing them.
- Encourage staff to use scrap paper for internal notes by giving each staff member a scrap paper box in their desk
- Bringing lunch to work in reusable containers is likely the greenest (and healthiest) way to eat at work.
- Encourage cycling to work by providing subsidies for staff who use bikes and facilities (lockers, bike racks, showers) for cyclists,
- Implement a car pool scheme for staff.