Eco-Friendly Office Tips

This summer, most of us will be drinking the Kool-Aid once again after one year of drinking out of eco-friendly Nalgenes. For those of us trying to live environmentally friendly existences, staying Green in an office setting can present a real challenge. Offices are notorious for using copious amounts of paper and electricity, and are often located in areas that require employees to commute significant distances.

What do you do? Not to worry. While you will surely be busy at work, you won’t be too busy to make these simple changes to your daily routine. Read on for quick and easy ways to make your workplace more eco-friendly.

1. Optimize energy usage
Set your computer to enter sleep mode when idle, and be sure to turn it off when you leave for the day.

Unplug printers and other electronics when not in use (they continue to drain energy even when turned off).

Request CFL light bulbs for desk lamps, and if near windows, open blinds on sunny days rather than using lights.

If purchasing new electronics, look for the “Energy Star” label. Be sure not to trash old goods – recycle them.

2. Embrace digital documents
Read and file documents electronically rather than printing paper copies (this will minimize office clutter, too).

Take notes and make lists on your computer rather than handwriting paper lists.

3. Be smart about paper usage
Encourage your office to purchase recycled paper and envelopes with 100% post-consumer content and no chlorine bleaching.

When printing, choose 2-sheets to a page and make double-sided copies.

Reuse paper for note taking or for packing material.

4. Think twice about your commute
Try to give up your car – instead, choose to walk, bike or take public transportation (and minimize dreaded office-butt).

If you must drive, try to carpool, and consider purchasing a hybrid car, scooter or motorcycle. Telecommuting or working 4 extended days (as opposed to 5) can also help you decrease your carbon footprint.

Once you get to work, try taking the stairs rather than the elevator to burn 10 times as many calories.

5. Fashion can be green, too
Purchase clothes made with organic or recycled fibers (this is easier if your office is business casual).

Avoid dry clean only fabrics (think of the money you’ll save!), and when dry cleaning is necessary, visit a “green” dry cleaner.

6. Eco-friendly eating
Whenever possible, bring your own meals to work in reusable containers. Not only will the food you bring typically be healthier than take-out options, it will use significantly less packaging. Some ideas:

For breakfast, keep a box of cereal, a jug of milk, some bananas and a reusable bowl and spoon at the office – you’ll be set for about two weeks for under $10.

For lunch, leftovers or a sandwich packed in plastic containers are great options.

Need an afternoon treat? Bringing your own jar of hot cocoa mix or tea and a re-usable mug will decrease waste, and save more of your hard-earned dollars from falling into Starbucks’ hands.

A coffee drinker? Request free-trade, organic coffee, and encourage your office mates to bring their own cups.

Big on water? Stop buying bottled water and start using a reusable bottle instead.

Ask your office manager to keep recycling bins for paper, glass and plastic containers in the kitchen.