Embracing conservation can be advantageous for your business. Not only does it benefit the environment, it also can save your company money, increase employee productivity, enhance a company’s reputation and make it more attractive to environmentally conscious employees and applicants.
Reduce Energy Usage
Here are some tips to make your organization more environmentally friendly:
- Employees should turn off lights if they plan to leave a room for more than 15 minutes.
- Purchase Energy Star-rated light fixtures and bulbs, which use two-thirds less energy than normal lighting. Visit www.energystar.gov for more information.
- Install timers or motion sensors that shut off lights when no one is present.
- Purchase LED desk lamps that use minimal energy.
- Arrange your workspace so more employees have access to natural light. This is proven to increase productivity and job satisfaction as well as use less electricity.
Use Computers Efficiently
Computers waste an enormous amount of electricity each year, particularly in the business sector.
- Employees should turn off their computers and power strips they are plugged into (if applicable) before leaving work each day.
- Employees should set their computers to “go to sleep” when they are away for a short period of time since sleep mode uses 70 percent less energy than a normal screen. This is not the same as using screensavers and standby settings, which still draw power even when the machine is not in use.
- Invest in energy-saving computers, monitors and printers when purchasing new materials for the company.
- Recycle electronic equipment properly when the company has no more need for it. Visit www.epa.gov for more information on recycling electronic waste safely. Or, donate electronics that are less than five years old to a charity such as www.techsoup.org. Tax deductions generally apply to these donations.
Print with Care
On average, an office worker uses 10,000 sheets of printer and copy paper per year.
- Instruct employees to print on both sides of the page or use the back of old faxes, scrap paper or drafts to make new copies.
- Print in draft mode versus regular mode and avoid using colored ink whenever possible.
- Purchase remanufactured toner and ink cartridges, and recycle the old ones.
- Request 100 percent recycled paper when using a print company to make copies or print materials for your company.
- Ask that employees reduce font sizes, use narrower fonts, decrease line spacing and decrease margins when feasible, to use less paper when printing.
- Purchase chlorine-free paper made from a high percentage of recycled materials. Be wary that not all paper labeled “recycled” is truly made from recycled materials. In fact, some paper simply contains the trim waste from the production process which reduces costs for the manufacturer but does not necessary help the environment. Instead, purchase post-consumer recycled (PCR) or post-consumer waste (PCW) paper. This is still high quality and can be used in inkjet and laser printers. Also consider paper made from bamboo, hemp, organic cotton or kenaf as an alternative.
Reduce the Paper Trail
The following strategies can be used to help cut back on paper usage:
- Request that employees stop receiving unnecessary industry newsletters, magazines and junk mailings. Instead, sign up for emails on industry-related topics and information, or check if various publications have an e-newsletter as an alternative to receiving a print version.
- Post employee manuals and policies online versus printing out paper copies of these documents. This makes updating policies and procedures easier and more efficient too.
- Store documents electronically instead of using a filing cabinet, write emails versus sending paper letters and review documents as a PDF versus printing.
- Make use of a company intranet to cut down on printed materials. Post or distribute an e-newsletter (instead of mailing out a printed company newsletter), host an online bulletin board, and provide materials and communications online rather than in printed form.
Considering the following recycling tactics to assist with conservation efforts:
- Post employee manuals and policies online versus printing out paper
- Recycle paper from faxes, envelopes and junk mail company-wide.
- Visit www.epa.gov to learn more about recycling employee electronics such as cellular phones and PDAs.
- Make recycling bins easily accessible to employees by placing them in high traffic areas and post information (electronically) about what can and should be recycled on a daily basis.
- Reuse shipping boxes and use shredded paper as packing material.
- Purchase office furniture and supplies made from recycled materials. Visit www.conservatree.org or www.thegreenoffice.com for more information on how to purchase these products.
Look for office products that do not contain harmful materials. These items are certified by The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and The Rainforest Alliance and are made from wood from sustainable harvested forests.
Eat with the Environment in Mind
Being mindful of the environment when purchasing and eating food can go a long way in helping reduce waste:
- Ask that employees bring their own reusable dishes, utensils and glassware to work for eating meals, rather than items made of plastic or foam. Also suggest that employees bring food in a reusable lunch sack or container.
- Purchase organic coffee or tea for employees, and organic and local foods for company parties and events.
- Provide filtered drinking water devices to deter employees from drinking bottled water.
- Suggest that when employees place food orders, they do so with others to eliminate added waste from individual orders.
- Recommend that employees bike or walk when going out to eat for lunch.
Maintain a Healthy Environment
To promote a healthier workplace, consider the strategies outlined below:
- Use nontoxic cleaning materials, biodegradable soaps, and recycled paper or cloth towels.
- Buy cleaning materials in bulk and recycle their containers.
- Suggest that employees bring a plant into work for their desks to absorb indoor pollution.
- Purchase furniture, carpeting and paints that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).