Key Tips to Go Green At the Office

Key Tips to Go Green At the Office

by Heleigh Bostwick, December 2009
At some companies including NRG Systems, Inc., employees are issued laptops instead of desktop computers to save energy. Then again, these employees also work in a LEED gold certified building that obtains much of its energy from wind and solar power with offices that are oriented to maximize solar exposure. But even if you don't work in a progressive company, it is easier than you think to go green at the office. Here are a few tips to help get you started.

1. Toss It...In the Recycling Bin

Today, most offices have recycled paper bins next to the copy machine. So, why not take it a step further and keep your own recycling box for used paper. A lid from the cardboard copy paper box works well or have the office manager order personal recycle bins from a company like for the entire office. You can also shred paper and reuse it as packing material. Don't forget too, that office equipment like toner and cartridges can be recycled. An one more tip, if you normally print on only one side of the paper, use the other side for a doodle pad or print draft documents on the reverse before you toss it in the bin.

2. Peruse the Office Supply Catalog

From recycled printer cartridges to environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, it's easier than ever to buy greener office supplies. Many office supply stores including Office Depot and Staples actually have sections of their catalogs devoted to environmentally preferred products made from post-consumer recycled content including paper, plastic, and steel, as well as remanufactured ink and toner cartridges, and Energy Star certified office equipment.

3. Go Paperless...Or Close to It

Want to be cutting edge? Go paperless! Believe it or not the paperless office is now considered a bona fide office philosophy. Of course going completely paperless is not possible for most companies, but items such as employee handbooks, corporate policies, and many documents like memos or short reports can all be handled electronically these days. Once the system is set up, documents are just a click away. No more rooting through dusty file cabinets!

4. Turn Out the Lights and Power Off Your Computer at Night

These two energy savers are two of the simplest ways to go green at the office. Conference rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and common areas get limited use during the day and what could be more simple than flicking the off switch if no one is in there? And, while you're wrapping up your workday don't forget to power off your computer instead of letting it go into sleep mode.

5. Bring Your Own...Coffee Mug, Tableware, and Utensils

Bringing your own coffee mug to the office instead of using disposable paper cups goes a long way toward reducing waste. Remember those plastic forks we mentioned earlier? Well, the same goes for tableware and utensils. Bring a bowl, plate, and utensils from home to use at the office. If you can't spare any from home buy a set of bamboo tableware and flatware. Bamboo is a sustainable material and beats plastic any day!

Not only is going green at the office good for the environment, it also saves money! What company would argue with that logic? Oh, and while your officemates and boss are mulling over these suggestions, why not brew them a cup of organic fair-trade coffee or tea. I'm sure they'd appreciate it.