Inspired by a friend/client, Green Home Experts, I have implemented several different ways I can be greener in my home and in my business. There are endless ways to create a greener workplace from using recycled products to installing doubled-paned windows for better insulation. The best way to start is by taking small steps. Here are a few ideas you can work with.
- Green up your commute. Since your workday begins when you arrive, let’s start with how you get there. The best-case scenario is to telecommute by working from home (Like me!). Today’s technology–e.g., video conferencing (Skype), instant messaging (FB and others) and online interactions (JoinMe)–has made this a reality. However, if your office can’t be home based and walking or biking is not an option; consider carpooling with two to three other like-minded people or using public transportation. Other alternatives are purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle or switching from an eight-hour workday, five days a week to a 10-hour workday, four days a week. This will cut your daily commute time by at least 20 percent and give you longer weekends (doesn’t hurt to ask your boss, because happy employees are productive employees).
- Go digital. The greenest paper is no paper, and one of the most effective ways to be more eco-friendly in your office is to reduce paper waste. Switch from a fax machine to a fax modem (AccessLine) to send and receive paperless documents. Use electronic forms whenever possible, and e-mail letters and documents to be read online rather than printed out. Have staff members take their laptops or tablets to team meetings so they aren’t printing reams of reports. An added bonus: Storing files on your computer saves time, money and space. Just become organized with saving files to folders and using your email system to the fullest. Just don’t forget to backup, preferably to an off-site data system.
- Read the green print. When printing is unavoidable, use the draft mode on your printer and make double-sided printing your default. The same rules apply to your copier as well. You should also use 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper.
- Green your PC. Since we’re talking about using computers to their maximum potential, we also need to discuss how to make them more efficient and environmentally friendly. Start by putting computers on “standby” or in “hibernation” mode when they haven’t been accessed for more than 10 minutes; turn them completely off when you’re finished working for the day. When upgrading, take advantage of take-back programs for people who want to recycle their old computers.
- Can you see the light? Daylight is the best natural resource (for me it gives me a burst of energy). However, natural lighting is not always adequate, and energy-efficient light bulbs such as compact fluorescent bulbs or LEDs should replace incandescent lighting for cost and energy savings. Just be sure to turn off the lights when leaving the room.
- Get real. Plants that is. A silk tree may be easier to take care of, but a real one adds natural beauty to your surroundings while improving the quality of indoor air. This can be especially important if you work in a newer building that is tightly sealed to conserve energy.
- Take a break. And when you do, toss the plastic wear and foam cups. Encourage your employees to bring lunch from home in reusable containers or frequent restaurants that have green carryout initiatives. Provide washable utensils in your lunchroom, or encourage staffers to bring their own. This would also be an excellent time to get some coffee mugs with your company logo on them for visitors and employees to use.
- Perk up. Speaking of coffee, use fair-trade certified, shade-grown coffee in reusable coffee filters. Not only is organic coffee better for you, but the shade-grown beans helps to protect biodiversity of the fragile ecosystems in the countries that grow it, while the reusable filters cut down on waste.
- Use green marketing tools. Promote your eco-friendly habits in your marketing materials, both internally and externally. Let your customers, suppliers, and employees know that you are taking active steps to protect and preserve the environment. This can be done in a number of ways, but one of the simplest is to add a green tag line to e-mails that [says] something like: “Please think green before printing this e-mail.”