8 Simple Ways to ‘Go Green’ at Work

If you are already taking environmentally friendly steps at home then why not take similar measures at work? The incentives for going green at work are numerous. First of all, you make the environment more pleasant, clean and healthy for yourself and the people surrounding you, secondly, you save energy and help reduce the costs of your employer (which in today's troublesome economy, could mean that more jobs are 'safe' with extra money available). It’s time we started enjoying an eco-friendly workplace.

Following these 7 simple steps is more than enough to achieve this goal...

#1 Conserve your computer’s energy

For many people with desk jobs the computer is necessary to get things done. Yet, this "efficiency" comes at a cost - it is estimated that people waste over $1 billion in electricity every year just in computer use! To help conserve energy from your computer use, you can invest in an energy-saving computer, monitor and printer, and, switch to energy-saving settings, such as: - Monitor and display sleep: Turn off after 15 minutes or less; - Turn off hard drives and hard disk sleep: 15 minutes or less; and - System standby or sleep: After 30 minutes or less. - Avoid using screensavers, these use energy rather than save it. - Setting the computer to sleep mode when you are away for short periods of time makes good sense. - Switch to a laptop or a thin client. Laptops and thin clients use less energy than desktop computers.

#2 Turn off all peripherals when not in use

Peripherals such as printers, video cards, speakers, and scanners continue to consume power even when not in use. Unplug them and save energy.

#3 Reduce your paper waste and prioritize paper use

Do you have to print out every email and handout? Reduce paper waste by deciding to go paperless wherever possible. You can try to: - Keep copies of important emails, files, and more on your computer. - Use old paper with extra space to print small documents. - Don’t get any extra catalogs or magazines mailed to your office. Use a sharing system to pass around interesting materials between everyone’s in-trays. This saves paper and money. - Get your check directly deposited. Payment direct to your bank account saves paper. - Send company updates through email instead of on paper. - Review any documents online instead of printing them out. It is also a good idea to make eco-friendly choices: - Buy recycled and chlorine-free paper. - Try paper made from organic products like bamboo, cotton or hemp. - Print on both sides of the paper. - Shred old paper to use as packing material. - Save and reuse old boxes. - Use old sheets of paper for scrap paper or note taking. Use mistake prints as scribble paper, or send a stack along to your children’s daycare or school for artwork use.

#4 Reduce energy usage

Along with reducing the energy usage of your computer and peripherals, there are several broader ways to reduce energy usage in the workplace: - Replace your desk lamp light bulbs and overhead lights with compact fluorescent light bulbs qualified with the Energy Star. These bulbs use 75% less energy than incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times as long. - Turn lights off when nobody is using an office. Where the lighting controls are on automatic override, talk to building management about having the settings changed to only use sufficient lighting for security and safety purposes, rather than over-lighting the whole building. - During cold weather, keep blinds open to let the warmth in; during warm weather, keep blinds pulled to close out the heat of the summer sun. - Keep window vents clear of paper or other obstructions, to allow the free flow of air. - Use Energy Star rated programmable thermostats to adjust heating and cooling in the building automatically to avoid wasting energy. - Get an Energy Star qualified water cooler. These use half the energy as standard units.

#5 Maintain healthy air flow

It is bad enough that you have to worry about air pollution every time you walk outside, but it is also a big priority when you work inside. If you work in an office, cubicle, or workshop, it’s likely that you’re spending most of your time indoors. Here are some ways that you can maintain a healthy air flow in your office: - Use non-toxic cleaning products. Water dampened cloths are sufficient to clean most dusty work-spaces. - Open your windows to increase air flow. If you can’t open windows, be sure to take outdoor breaks throughout the day. - Don’t smoke in or near the office. - Never bring any aerosol can to work. - Use an air purifier to get rid of contaminants.

#6 Green your desk, cubicle or office

Literally, get a plant and place it on or near your desk. Or, even better, buy plants for all of your neighbors. They will not only see this as a friendly gesture, but they’ll also have cleaner air to breathe! Plants absorb indoor air pollution and increase the flow of oxygen, so get a green accessory to complement your desk!

#7 Eat green and healthy

Everyone looks forward to their lunch break. You can save a good amount of money (about $3,000 a year) by not going out to eat every day and instead packing your lunch. Follow these lunch tips to have healthier, greener eating habits: - Pack your lunch in a reusable lunch bag or box. Bento boxes are much more popular now, allowing you to have a delicious, healthy variety every lunch. - If you bring your lunch in a paper or plastic bag, recycle it. Plastic bags can be washed and left standing upside down overnight to dry. - Use containers, mugs, and silverware that can be washed and used again. - Switch to organic food and drinks. -Walk to a healthy lunch eatery if you forget to pack your lunch.

#8 Travel green

The first part of your workday starts with getting to work, and for many people that means driving. Cars emit tons of carbon dioxide gases into the air, contributing to greenhouse gases. Getting stuck in a traffic jam regularly is also bound to increase your stress levels. Here are some ideas you can do for a green ride: - Join a ride share group. - Take the train, bus or subway. - Ride a bike or walk if you live close enough. - Invest in a green car like a hybrid. - Reduce your travel by telecommuting, or working from home whenever possible.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!