In Your Office

Page - April 19, 2007
Protecting the environment has to be part of your everyday life outside your home as well. Whether you work at a factory that may be blatantly polluting the environment or in an office that could cut down its use of paper products, you should examine every element of your working life and make sure it is a safe working environment for you and the planet.

 

Paper

Our ancient forests are being stripped away for many disposable paper products you can find at home and at work, such as toilet paper, phone books, newsprint and writing paper. Here are a few things you can do to save paper and trees:

  • Photocopy or print on both sides of the page and reuse paper until both sides are used up.
  • Reduce the number of copies of any given document.
  • Buy recycled, chlorine-free paper and recycle office paper when you are finished with it.
  • Reuse envelopes.
  • Use a plain paper fax machine so you can reuse and recycle the paper.
  • Buy a permanent cloth or mesh coffee filter instead of disposable paper filters.
  • Buy one copy of the newspaper and leave it in the staff room for everyone to share over lunch and breaks.
  • Make sure your office is not using Kimberly Clark products! Learn more.

Supplies

  • Implement purchasing policies that consider the environmental record of companies you are buying goods and services from.
  • Encourage your workplace to use alternative cleaning materials such as the recipes found here.
  • Use paper clips, staples, string or non-toxic glue instead of adhesive tape when possible.
  • Use stick-type glues or basic white glue. Avoid glues and cements that emit the smell of solvents (e.g. rubber cement and hobby glue).
  • Use crayons, china markers (wax pencils) or colored pencils instead of solvent based markers.
  • Use correction tape that covers errors or lifts them off without the use of solvents. When you must use fluid, use the water based type made for photocopiers.
  • Use refillable pens and pencils rather than disposable ones.

Computers and IT

  • Buy a laptop instead of a desktop, if practical. It consumes five times less electricity.
  • If you buy a desktop, get an LCD screen instead of an outdated CRT.
  • Enable the power management function on your computer, the screensaver does not save energy.
  • Check if your computer supports the more advanced Speedstep™ power management.
  • Switching off a computer extends its lifetime, contrary to some misconceptions. Leaving a computer running the whole year will cost you more than 1,000 kWh/y, or almost as much a the total electricity consumption of a high-efficiency household.
  • Use one large power strip for your computer, broadband modem, scanner, printer, monitor, and speakers. Switch it off when equipment is not in use. This is a practical way to cut 200 kWh/y or more of standby losses (see standby).
  • Minimise printing. Laser printers use more electricity than inkjet printers.
  • Check out Greenpeace's Guide to Greener Electronics to see where your electronics stand.

Quick Tips

  • If you send packages by courier, contact a bicycle courier company for local deliveries.
  • Take your own ceramic or china coffee cup to work.
  • Bring your lunch in a reusable container.
  • Investigate the health hazards in your office and line of work. Seek and promote alternatives.
  • Weatherproof your workplace to save energy.
  • Help educate your coworkers about the environment.
  • Lobby for faucet aerators at work to save water.
  • Set up a recycling program.
  • Set up an environmental bulletin board to post notices about local environmental meetings, environmental news and green cleaning tips.
  • Encourage your company pension plan not to invest in companies that harm the environment.
  • Lobby your company to set up a committee to monitor its environmental performance.
  • Walk or ride a bike to work. Use public transit or carpool - you can advertise at work or on community bulletin boards.
  • Make a sign for inside the front door that says "last one out turns off the lights."