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Elizabeth Tippet

Elizabeth Tippet

June 25, 2015

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Going Green at Work

Green is a trendy color these days, people all over the country are pitching in to do their part. While you might be making all the right changes at home, the buck doesn’t always stop with you at work.

The truth is, going green at work is an easy sell, as there are a ton of benefits for your employer. It can improve the air quality and health of employees (meaning less sick days), save money on energy costs, and earn the company a green image, which is becoming increasingly valuable. So embrace your inner tree hugger and suggest the following at your company.

Bag bottled water. Instead of reaching for a plastic bottle of Poland Spring, talk to your boss about installing a water filtration system right to the tap. (A plumber can do this quickly.) Doing so saves petroleum-based plastic production, putting less carbon in the air.

Buy organic, Fair Trade coffee. Coffee is a huge commodity, second only to petroleum, so the type you choose is important. Fair Trade is an organization that helps to reduce global poverty by paying the farmer a fair wage for his beans. Look for the Fair Trade Certified symbol on your bag of beans or go to Fair Trade Certified to find a retailer in your area.

Ditch the Chinet. Stop by the thrift store to pick up real plates, glasses, and silverware to use at the office. Paper products constituted the largest portion of municipal solid waste according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Purchase environmentally sound products. From post-consumer recycled paper to recycled steel furniture, the wealth of office products available to a green office consumer is pretty amazing these days. Check out The Green Office for a great assortment listed by price and green ranking.

Turn off the lights. If you plan to be away from your office for more than 15 minutes, shut off the lights as you leave. Better yet, make your eyes happy by opening your shades and letting the natural light shine through. Also, when you’re not in front of it, put your computer on sleep mode. You’ll conserve more energy than by using a screensaver.

Use both sides of the paper. When you’re printing something that only you will see, print it on the other side of a piece of scrap paper. If you’re making copies of a report or presentation, set the copier to double-sided mode. Doing so will literally halve your company’s paper consumption.

Reuse your takeout containers. Lots of lunch places package their food in sturdy plastic containers. Rinse them out and use them to pack your own lunch a few times a week. In addition to helping the environment, bringing lunch will benefit your bank account and your waistline.

Check the thermostat. I once worked in an office where the AC was cranked so high, people used space heaters in July to keep warm. The freeze-out continued because no one could determine who controlled the thermostat. Find out who pays the utility bills at your office. Saving company money always seems to get some attention.

Recycle. Recycling is the single easiest thing we can do for our planet. But business-recycling programs aren’t one-size-fits-all. Smaller business can band together to have enough recyclables for pickup or can appoint someone to drop them off. Log on to Earth 911 for business reuse and recycling programs in your area. If your office already has a recycling program in place, post signs about what can be recycled to help remind and encourage your co-workers.

Don’t drive alone. You may view your commute as a time to decompress or prepare for your day, but automobiles are wreaking havoc on the environment. According to the EPA, each year the average car emits 11.45 pounds of carbon dioxide, the most dangerous greenhouse gas. Try to carpool, walk, ride your bike, or take mass transit to work. If you have a lengthy commute, talk to your boss about telecommuting a couple of days a week. You’ll help our earth—and be able to work in your pajamas!