Many Americans are working at home more than ever, something green in itself. Most of us understand that we all start taking ecologically minded steps for our office, but knowing exactly where to start can be daunting. Fortunately, being more eco-friendly is relatively inexpensive and easy. Here is a checklist to help accomplish this.
• Change all of your light bulbs to CFLs, LEDs, or other energy-saving alternative lightbulb solutions.
• Drink tap water, and avoid plastic water bottles. Tap water is much safer and more regulated than bottled water, and many bottled waters use municipal water as their source.
• Re-use file folders, boxes and all other office supplies for as long as possible before purchasing any new ones.
• Use recycled products everywhere you can. Look for products with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content, reduced chemical content, and biodegradable or compostable components.
• Turn off and unplug all computers and electronic devices after hours (with the exception of those providing round-the-clock or off-hours services such as servers, backup devices, etc.). Likewise, you should unplug coffee machines and other appliances when they are not being used.
• Use environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies.
• Whenever possible, use digital document delivery methods such as email or internal fax to avoid postage, printing, ink, and paper use.
• Cut out junk mail and paper subscriptions to newspapers and magazines, and/or consider reading their electronic versions instead.
• Practice on-screen reading and editing habits to save printing.
• Investigate the environmental policies of potential suppliers, and switch to alternate suppliers with better policies if necessary. Buy local to reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation. Support suppliers and vendors that use less packaging material and green shipping policies.
• When you must print a document, view your document first using your application’s print preview feature prior to printing to avoid mistakes.
• When you must print, print double-sided documents and consider printing consolidation tools to reduce wasted and unnecessary pages.
• Purchase computer software and music online and download them to avoid packaging and shipping costs and materials.
• Reduce office trash as much as possible, and compost or recycle the rest. Use two trash cans: one for recycled materials and one for trash. Call your city waste department or recycling program to find out how to maximize your recycling efforts.
• Buy used furniture.
• Buy a refurbished laptop.
• Purchase an all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax.