Tips for Making Your Office Green
Of all our activities, few can result in as much daily waste as those associated with office and school work. Fortunately, there are a number of sustainable, eco-friendly practices and products that make the greening of office and school work easy and economical, too.
- Save and Share Documents Electronically
- Power Down and Lengthen Lifespan of Electronics
- Green Your Accesories
- Conserve and Recycle Paper
- Ways to Green Your Printing and Reading
- Use Eco-Friendly Supplies
Save and Share Documents Electronically
Once upon a time, you wouldn't dream of creating an electronic document without printing out a hardcopy. If and when you forgot to print a backup and lost your e-version, chances are that's a mistake you never made again. These days though, there are so many means of backing up your work electronically that printing a hardcopy is not necessary.
Instead of printing a hardcopy, you can cover your bases just fine by saving a copy to:
- Hard Drive
- Google Doc
Chances are slim you will lose your work in any one of these ways, much less all of them. Bottom line, your work is backed up just fine. In fact, it's probably safer than a hardcopy that can be damaged or lost.
If yours is an office in which people still prefer paper copies of everything, it's time to change the status quo. Instead of handing out a hardcopy to everyone at the conference table, email them a copy, or share it with them on Google Docs. Then simply have everyone pull it up on their laptops. It should actually improve efficiency, as it is faster to scroll through electronic pages than thumb through paper. You can even highlight text and make notes electronically. Return to Top
When you're not using your computer, turn it off. Even if it's a laptop running on a battery charge, you're still using up power that will have to be replenished later. Though printer and fax use should be minimized, if you do own these items turn them off when not in use. As for chargers, if they're plugged into the outlet they're using up energy even if there's no cell phone or laptop plugged into them. So once your device is charged, make it a habit of unplugging your charger.
Lengthen the Lifespan of Your Electronics
When a cell phone or laptop manufacturer launches a new product, all the new features can make you feel like your "old" product is obsolete. Of course, this is by design. They're counting on our "keeping up with the Jonses" mentality even though what we already have can serve our needs just fine.
Instead of playing their game, make up your own. Try challenging yourself to use that cell phone or laptop for as along as you possibly can provided it is operable and continues to meet your needs. Once you have pushed the longevity of the product to its limits, recycle it responsibly (i.e., at a designated e-waste drop-off location, not curbside in your garbage bin headed for the dump).
Of course, if and when you cannot resist replacing your perfectly operable gadget with the newest version, put your "old" phone or laptop to good use. Sell it or give it away - to a friend or family member, or advertise it on Amazon or eBay. What's most important is extending the lifespan of your electronics for as long as possible. Return to Top
Green Your Electronic Accessories
For saving and transporting information from one computer to another, invest in an eco-friendly flash drive. Look for flash drives that contain no lead, mercury or other toxic substances. As for keeping your electronics charged, invest in solar chargers for your laptops, netbooks, cell phones and other devices. Return to Top
Conserve and Recycle Paper
If you're as attached to your cell phone or laptop as most people are, then making lists or jotting down notes electronically should be pretty convenient - from formal documents to quick emails. That said, there are times when you want to use good ole fashioned paper, especially if you're taking notes from something on your computer screen. Though you could easily copy and paste chunks of text into a document in a separate window, it's not a practical way of easily summarizing the material or recording original thoughts.
When using paper, buy paper that is:
- Made with 30 to 100 percent post-consumer content
- PCF-Free (processed chlorine free)
Beyond the point-of-purchase, write or print on both sides of paper and, when it's time to toss it, be sure to recycle. Return to Top
Green Your Print
For documents that call for hardcopy prints, like school reports, invest in soy ink cartridges. As for everyday writing, look for soy ink pens made of recycled plastic and pencils made from recycled paper.
Read it Green
Every year, 30 million trees are cut down to meet demand for new books sold in the U.S. Instead of buying brand new books:
- Buy used books through online stores (like Amazon.com), or at thrift stores and garage sales.
- Use your library card.
- Invest in a Kindle, Nook, iPad or similar electronic device for downloading paperless E-books.
So whatever your budget for books, greening your reading should be relatively easy (and fun) to do. Return to Top
Look for These Eco-Friendly Supplies
Beyond the greening of your electronics, paper and printing needs, look for the following supplies made of recycled and/or sustainable materials:
- Backpacks and Briefcases
- Binders and Notebooks
- Business Cards
- Files and File Holders
- Calendars and Organizers
- CD Sleeves
For specific product options, shop the following online stores for green office and school supplies: