Easy Ways to Go Green in your Small Office

We all grew up with the “three R’s” of being environmentally friendly.  Now, that has evolved in to “Five R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, plus Repair, and Rethink.  Buzz words or phrases like ‘sustainable’, ‘going green’, and ‘carbon footprint’ are being thrown around a lot.  It can be hard to tell what you can do to be more ‘eco-smart’ on a small business level.  Here are some easy ways to go green in the office, and might save you money in the process.

Office Supplies:

Keeping your supply cabinet under the supervision of one or two people is a huge money saver.  If people know someone, like your office manager is watching, they might be less likely to be wasteful.  Encouraging people to reuse as much of their supplies as possible, can also help.  You could even set up a program that uses the money saved to throw office parties or take everyone out for lunch. 

The quickest and easiest way to reduce your office supply usage would be to examine how much paper is being used unnecessarily.  Do you really need to print out the agenda from that meeting?  Is there a way you can transition from a printed form to a digital form?  Do you need to send that memo or can you simply send an email instead?  Really looking at why you print, what you print, or whether it is necessary, will save lots of trees and lots of money in the long run.

Power Savings:

A majority of power being consumed is by things like computers or lights being left on when no one is using them.  Open the blinds to use natural light whenever possible.  Installing motion sensors on light switches for the common areas or conference rooms will keep people from leaving lights on after they leave.  You could even go as far as instating a policy to ban screen savers; have computers set to power down when not in use, instead of running continuously. 

Office Equipment:

There are lots of great ways you can make your equipment energy friendly.  Buying ‘Energy Star’ rated products is the best way to go, especially if it is a multi-purpose machine.  Suppliers such as Staples or Office Max offer rewards programs when you turn in your old toner to be recycled.  In addition, purchasing remanufactured ink and toner cartridges is often lower in cost than new. 

Lighting is also a quick and easy way to make your office more energy efficient.  LED lamps use less power than compact fluorescent bulbs do.  Desk lamps may be just enough light to work without turning the overhead lights on.  If you are the person in your office responsible for the electric bill, consider contacting your local energy provider, like Duke Energy.  You might qualify for discounts, a free energy evaluation, or even free products that will help the earth as well as your bottom line.

Kitchen Supplies:

Even if you do not have a traditional kitchen set up in your office, you most likely buy things like paper towels, coffee supplies, or cleaning products.  Instead of buying individual packets of creamer, sugar, coffee, salt, pepper, or other consumables, trying buying them in bulk instead.  Not only will you save on packaging, but you will save time and money making multiple trips to the store. 

Using environmentally friendly cleaning products is super important.  No one wants to introduce potentially harmful chemicals into their office or on to surfaces that your employees touch every day.  Many eco-friendly and organic products are now just as effective without harming people or the planet.  Fewer chemicals mean a healthier office and a healthier world. 

Finally, a great way to green your office, is to literally green your office – with plants!  Plants absorb airborne pollutants.  They also emit healthy negative ions and oxygen in to the air.  Plus, a well-placed spider plant or fichus tree can reduce the sterile or generic look of any office. 

Sometimes, helping the environment can feel like a problem that should be handled on a macro level.  However, if you take these small steps to being more eco-conscious, it can help the planet and your pocket book at the same time.