In your daily life, you know you’ve got the boxes checked off when it comes to looking after your planet. You rinse the juice bottles and break down the Amazon boxes before adding them to the recycling bin you take down to the curb every week. You make sure you have your reusable bags in the car when you go grocery shopping. You’re getting better about buying larger quantities of nuts or cookies and putting them into small containers to take with you rather than relying on individually packaged snacks that create bulk trash. All the home tricks have become a natural part of your life, but you feel like maybe your office isn’t as dedicated to the green life. Here are some steps you can take to incorporate little changes into your office routine that do add up to help out the environment a little bit more…and in some cases, save you some money at the same time.
- Turn off lights in unused offices: This can apply not only to shutting off your office lights when you run out to lunch but also to those rooms that aren’t used all day, like conference or supply rooms. It’s not too hard to flip a switch when you walk into a room, and you’ll be doing your electric bill a favor as well! Same goes for computers. Power down electronics that aren’t in use and do away with screen savers. It saves much more electricity for the screen to go black when not being actively used.
- Wash and reuse dishes: While it’s super easy in the middle of the day to toss your lunch on a paper plate and to eat it with a plastic fork, you’ll be keeping hundreds of single use plastic items out of landfills by using real plates and metal flatware to eat. Washing up only take a few seconds, and not having to keep plastic utensils in stock is another savings. Coffee tastes better out of a real mug…and you won’t have to worry about that plastic knife snapping in the midst of some vigorous cutting. Real towels that someone can take home periodically to toss into the washing machine are a great idea too!
- Contemplate that print job: Before printing out a spreadsheet or an email, ask yourself if you really need to have it on paper. Generally, it’s easier to look things over on a computer, where you can make edits and manipulate data with a few mouse clicks. If you can save an email to your computer for reference, rather than printing it out to stuff it in a folder, you’ll be saving on a lot of paper over time. Your coworker would probably appreciate receiving those things digitally as well, so send them in emails rather than printing them to hand over.
- Paperless technology: Speaking of paper, there are lots of technology solutions that can help you handle even less paper in your office. Options available now allow you to store documents in virtual filing cabinets, easily searchable and labeled with multiple key words to allow you to find what you’re looking for more quickly than a paper file ever could. It’s not just the documents you get in either. Technologies like DocuSign allow you to send secure documents directly to clients for information and e-signatures, then send them back to you without a piece of actual paper ever being printed. Not only is this environmentally friendly and cost effective, there is also an enormous amount of time saved on the part of you and your client in addition to a level of ease that your clients will really appreciate. A little bit of research will likely uncover the perfect technology solutions to fit your business model.
- Recycle all sorts of things: Just like you have at home, make sure you have a recycling bin in your office. Boxes, non-sensitive papers, bottles and cans—all of these can be recycled! More office specific items can often be recycled as well. Do some research into recycling your old printer cartridges; even better, see if you can refill them. There are electronics recycling facilities for old computers, monitors, and other old equipment to make sure it’s disposed of properly. You can often donate these to charities or non-profits as well.
- Go green…literally: Adding a few plants to your office space not only makes it more welcoming and attractive, it’s also a great way to improve your own health as well as the planet’s. Plants take in airborne pollutants and give back oxygen and healthy negative ions. Not a bad payoff for some regular watering.
When we were kids, we learned the “R”s of being environmentally conscious, and they’re definitely applicable in an office setting now. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair, and Rethink. A little bit of creativity and thoughtfulness goes a long way in making a better, greener office space for yourself and your co-workers, as well as saving you some time and money in the long run.