This guest post is by Lindsay Mineo of Palatin Remodeling, Inc.
Making environmentally friendly choices in your office today
Going green can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different companies, but at the basic core is the desire to do business in a way that is more sustainable and returns resources back to the planet. For a long time the notion of assisting the environment and making a profit have been mutually exclusive ideas, but now that the concept has been shattered more companies are wondering how to take the first steps. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways your company can “go green” and be more sustainable right now. Yes, even as you’re sitting there reading this, you can make a change in your company. After all, one sustainable change begets another and before you know it you’re making waves.
Reducing office resources
Most offices go through a lot of resources without even realizing it. Even though much of our work is done online or at least at a computer (and many companies communicate with other offices entirely electronically), we can still expend a large amount of paper products and other resources without even realizing it. Whether you go through a lot of Post-It notes to give yourself or your coworkers little reminders, accidentally print the whole document when all you needed was the first page, or regularly print outlines for office meetings when everyone brings their laptops anyway, reducing or eliminating your paper and tangible resources can be done today. Rather than just tossing those accidentally printed papers in the trash (or recycling bin, if your company uses one), turn them over and utilize the back side for your scrap paper. This can give paper another chance before being trashed, and will cut down on your use of Post-Its, saving the company a little money, too.
Reducing energy in the office
Even small offices use a ton of energy for daily tasks, but many people don’t realize that energy consumption continues after 5 o’clock. Set your office thermostat to have a constant, comfortable temperature during working hours. One problem with offices, especially during the summer, is that they act like freezers, forcing employees to come to work with a coat even though it’s 80 degrees outside. Set the thermostat to a more realistic temperature, like 75 degrees, during the day; this still keeps the office cool and your air conditioner won’t have to work quite so hard and your energy bills won’t be quite so high. Keep the office refrigerator set at a medium level rather than full blast to cut down on energy consumption and keep foods fresher (your salad could wilt from freezing in the back of the fridge!). Remember to turn off your computers and monitors at the end of the day and turn off all lights when the room or office isn’t in use. You could also consider installing a motion detector on your light switches and putting in energy efficient bulbs when the old ones burn out.
If your company isn’t recycling already, get a program in place. Even if you think you’re recycling because you have individual recycling bins for paper, make sure the cleaning crew is actually recycling them and not just lumping all the bins together. You can start by setting up labeled boxes or bins and sending out an email (forget memos!) to everyone that plastic bottles, aluminum cans and paper will now be individually collected. It might take a little while for everyone to catch on and stop instinctively tossing the soda can into the trash, but even a little bit helps. Then, contact the owner of the building and ask about getting a building-wide recycling program started. Chances are the building owner or landlord will be interested in doing so, especially if he or she knows tenants are already interested in participating. If the owner or landlord isn’t interested in recycling (shame on them!), try talking directly with the cleaning crew. They might already be sorting cans and bottles out to recycle on their own to collect extra cash and might be able to help out with paper products.
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