Going Green at Work

Many of us spend more time at work than at home – in fact, according to a 2009 Gallup poll, the average employed adult spends between 35-44 hours per week working.  Going green at work by recycling, carpooling with others, and reducing unnecessary waste. And yet, while we may go to a lot of effort to make our home more eco-friendly, we don’t always apply the same standards to our work place.  Here are a few easy tips on how to go greener at the workplace.

Carpool – Offering carpool incentives may just make the difference in getting your employees to be more environmentally conscious.  It could be paid parking or some other perk, but once they start carpooling they will realize the amount of money they can save on gas.  And, there is always public transportation, biking and walking.  Consider the eco benefits of telecommuting if possible – e-mailing, instant-messaging and videoconferencing – your employees will love this idea.

Save a Tree – Use recycled paper whenever possible on everything from paper and envelopes to letterheads and business, all promotional supplies such as flyers and posters, and other paper goods such as paper towels, toilet paper and water cups.  Just think of all of those thousands of beautiful trees you’re saving.  Use recycled ink and toner to lessen the environmental waste.  On average recycled goods only cost about 5% more – it’s worth it.  Email whenever possible and you will reduce the paper used for all of those letters and reduce your postage bill.  While going totally paperless may not be realistic, only print when necessary and cut down whenever possible by emailing interoffice memos and using overheads for meetings.

Power Down – Make sure everyone uses the energy-saving mode on their electronics.  Turning off and even unplugging all electronics when not in use and especially when they leave for the day can not only help the environment but also lower your bills.  Use eco-friendly light bulbs, make use of natural light and turn off lights in a room that is not used regularly.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – You can recycle most paper that you’re not shredding, just turn it over.  And shredded documents can be reused for shipping to customers, either yours, or maybe a business nearby can use it.  Recycle old furniture such as desks and chairs by donating them and get a tax write off too.  Old computers can be revamped and reused by many charities.

Go Casual – Most dry cleaners use chemicals that are dangerous for you and the environment, so avoiding clothing that need dry-cleaning is a good idea.  Not requiring suits in the summer months will keep everyone not only happier, but cooler, which will lower your AC bill.  And really just a more casual dress code is a greener option for many reasons, so even if it’s just casual Friday, do what you can to dress it down.

Break for the Environment – Every little bit helps; from organic coffee and snacks to reusable mugs helps create a smaller footprint.   Paper and plastics from the vending machine can be recycled and no more disposable cups at the water cooler.  When ordering lunch buy local and consider vegetarian alternatives, you may find you like it.

Clean Green – Use non-toxic cleaning supplies when possible.  There are many brands to choose from that are eco-friendly and clean just as well.  If you hire a cleaner ask them what they use.

These are just a few of the practices which you may adopt to make your workplace more eco-friendly.  There are many other changes you can make to reduce your business’s negative effects on the environment.   Maybe challenge your employees to come up with more ideas and even give bonuses for the most creative ones.

About Kiernan Hopkins

Kiernan Hopkins graduated from University of San Diego in 2010 with a degree in Business Administration. Kiernan now works as an outreach coordinator, and public relations associate for the Brooklyn based Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel, LLC. Kiernan is also a consistent guest contributor to a number of different legal news and small business blogs, including the Huffington Post.