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Green Your Office: 49 tips to reduce your office's waste

 

Office Equipment

 

The manufacturing of office equipment contributes greatly to reducing air quality and landfill waste. Consider these tips when you’re purchasing equipment for your business.

 

  • 1. Recycle your e-waste.: Mobile phones, computers, printers and other equipment can often be recycled. Look for recycling programs in your area that accept these kinds of materials.
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  • 2. Buy energy efficient copiers: Energy star rated printers and photocopiers will not only help save the environment but they will save you money too.
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  • 3. Unplug equipment when not in use: Encourage employees to shut down and unplug copiers, printers and other equipment when they leave the office each evening.
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  • 4. Buy high-quality equipment: When buying equipment, be sure to purchase something that will last and not become obsolete quickly. That way, you’ll avoid having to buy new equipment and contributing to manufacturing waste.
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Paper and printing products

 

Nearly every office, large or small, relies on large quantities of paper. Check out these tips to help reduce the amount of paper and printing products that are used at your workplace.

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  2. 1. Use both sides of paper: When making copies, set your printer/photocopier to use both sides of paper and cut your consumption in half.
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  4. 2. Shred and reuse unwanted paper: Instead of throwing away old documents, shred them and reuse them as packing material in parcels.
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  6. 3. Consider sustainable paper: The FSC label guarantees that the trees that are harvested are replaced or allowed to regenerate naturally. They also protect the rights of indigenous people to use the forest.
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  1. 4. Distribute memos via email: Instead of printing out memos for distribution, email them and let employees decide whether they wish to print them.
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  3. 5. Store manuals, policies and other documents online: Don’t print out massive employee handbooks. Allow employees to access PDF copies at their leisure.
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  5. 6. Provide hand dryers in toilets: Reduce paper towel waste by providing air dryers as an alternative. Take it a step further and provide reusable towels.
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  7. 7. Reduce margins: Reduce your margin settings so that your printer uses less paper.
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  9. 8. Reuse boxes: When you get parcels in, save the packaging boxes so that you can use them again for shipments out.
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  11. 9. Offer paper recycling: Put a paper recycling bin next to every printer, copier and fax machine so that employees can deposit unwanted paper in them.
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  13. 10. Avoid colour printing: Colour printing generally uses more ink, so print in black and white when you can.
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  15. 11. Print in draft mode: To conserve even more ink, print in draft mode. It will generally lighten the shade, but you’ll still be able to read your copy clearly.
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  17. 12. Buy paper wisely: Create a policy to buy either a chlorine-free paper with a high percentage of recycled content.
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Electricity

 

Small changes in air conditioning, lighting, and fixtures can make a huge difference in your energy consumption. Follow these guidelines to save the environment and save on your electricity bill.

 

  1. 1. Create an afterhours and weekend thermostat setting: If you know your employees aren’t going to be in the office, create a setting that conserves more energy during these hours. Be sure to allow an override function so that it can be changed if someone decides to come in to work.
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  3. 2. Turn off lights when not in use: Ask employees to turn off lights when they leave. Invest in automatic switches in places like the bathroom and kitchen areas so that they turn on and off whenever someone enters or leaves the room.
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  5. 3. Take advantage of natural lighting: Install windows and skylights so that you can use natural daytime light instead of electrical lighting.
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  7. 4. Buy Energy Star fixtures: When buying fixtures, look for the Energy Star label to save at least two-thirds less energy than regular ones.
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  9. 5. Unplug vending machines: When your office goes on holiday or leaves for the weekend, unplug vending machines.
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  11. 6. Change your thermostat: Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer. Encourage employees to bring personal fans and jumpers to ensure that they stay comfortable.
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  13. 7. Switch to LED bulbs: As your current light bulbs burn out, replace them with LED bulbs. They are more efficient and last much longer than traditional bulbs
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  15. 8. Buy from a green energy company: Many utility companies generate their electricity using wind or other alternative energy sources. Consider purchasing your electricity from one of these companies.
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Computers

 

Like other appliances, computers can be major energy hogs. Adjust screen savers, energy plans and quality to streamline your company’s computer efficiency.

 

  1. 1. Unplug computers when not in use: Encourage employees to shut down and unplug their computers when they leave the office for the day.
  1. 2. Buy for quality: When shopping for computers, buy PC’s that will last and avoid becoming obsolete too quickly. This way, you’ll avoid contributing to e-waste.
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  3. 3. Buy for energy savings: When shopping, be sure to ask if your computers, monitors and printers are energy efficient.
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  5. 4. Give your computer a nap: Ask your IT department to set your computers to go to sleep when not in use. Creating short energy breaks can cut energy use by up to 70 percent.
  1. 5. Banish screen savers: Make sure that employees know screen savers won’t save energy. They eat up lighting and processing energy. Instead, set screen savers to “none” or “blank screen.”
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  3. 6. Buy smaller monitors: You can reduce your monitor’s consumption by up to 30% by using a 2 inch smaller monitor.
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  5. Consider laptops and tablets: Consider buying tablets and laptops instead of desktops, as they generally use less energy and are more efficiently made.
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Transportation

 

You may not consider commuting to be a part of your office’s environmental impact, but your transportation policies can make a large difference. Encourage telecommuting, biking, and other green transportation options by taking these steps.

 

  1. 1. Encourage employees to walk or cycle to work: Make walking or cycling an easier option by offering showers and private changing areas at your office.
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  3. 2. Offer incentives for green commuters: If employees agree to walk, cycle, or take public transportation to work, offer them an incentive for encouragement.
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  5. 3. Support flexible working hours: Allow employees to work longer hours, but fewer days, in order to let them stay at home once a week or more.
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  7. 4. Create a carpool program: Many of your employees may want to carpool, but don’t know where colleagues live or simply don’t have the courage to ask around. You can help by administering a program to get them connected.
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  9. 5. Offer the option to work from home: If some or all of your employees’ work can be done at home, give them the option to work from home.
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  11. 6. Encourage efficient vehicles: If you provide company cars to employees, consider purchasing hybrids. Additionally, encourage employees to rent hybrids or other high-efficiency cars when they take business trips.
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  13. 7. Videoconference: Whenever possible, try to videoconference instead of traveling to meetings.
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  15. 8. Offer bike parking: Provide employees with a secure space to park their bicycles to encourage this mode of transportation.
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Miscellaneous

 

Every little thing adds up when it comes to office waste. Check out these tips for even more ways to reduce your consumption at work.

 

  1. 1. Use eco-friendly cleaning supplies: Discuss cleaning supplies with your cleaning staff. Ask them to consider using eco cleaners such as Ecover.
  1. 2. Do the dishes: Provide reusable dishes, cutlery and glasses for meetings.
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  3. 3. Provide filtered water: Instead of bottled water, provide employees with filtered drinking water and reusable cups.
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  1. 4. Buy organic coffee and teaIf you provide coffee or tea service to employees, be sure that it’s organic to reduce your environmental impact.
  1. 5. Install low-flow taps and toilets: Help conserve water by installing low-flow taps and toilets in toilets and other common areas. This will also help conserve electricity by reducing your water heater’s output.
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  4. 6. Consider office sharing: If you have several employees that don’t use the office regularly, consider assigning offices based on a schedule. You’ll save on utilities, equipment, furniture and more.
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  6. 7. Plant a tree for gifts: In lieu of sending a Christmas gift to clients, plant a tree in their name.
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  8. 8. Buy sugar and cream dispensers: Avoid paper packets and save waste by offering employees sugar and fresh milk in large dispensers.