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The “Green” Office

I imagine we all think we do our best to be “green”. I have always had a slight idealistic attitude that seemed to have tapered off once I finished university and realized the realities of life. That being said, is it really possible to go “paperless” for example?
The other day I was having a conversation with one of my colleagues at REM in regards to this exact subject. Both of us agreed that going completely paperless is not possible, or rather, realistic. Some of us still like to hold a magazine or newspaper in our hands. Also, I find it more difficult to absorb and or enjoy a book or information when reading on screen as opposed to reading it from a physical book or piece of paper.
That being said, I make a point of not printing out emails or webpages. There are times when this is unavoidable but in most instances it is possible.  So, what I would like to do is just throw out some simple ideas in order to help your business do what they can to contribute to the goal of being “green”.
I’m not going to get controversial here and tell everyone they should sell their cars and go buy a Prius (I’m a car enthusiast so that would be ludicrous as far as I’m concerned!) but here are a few simple ideas:
  1. Try using LESS Paper – Again, as mentioned above being “paperless” doesn’t to seem completely practical but try and avoid printing out emails. If you have to, customize the settings so you are only printing out the page(s) that are necessary. As for information on websites, some sites offer “printer friendly” versions (quick plug - REM offers this a module) and if they don’t, copy and paste the information into a Word file and print only the information you need. Not only will this save on paper as you won’t be printing the headers and footers and other large graphics but it will also save you some money on ink/toner. Also, try and use recycled paper/materials whenever possible.
  2. Shut the lights off and unplug unnecessary devices when you leave – this may seem obvious but even doing something as simple as putting your printer and other small devices that won’t be needed out of business hours on surge protectors will allow you to shut off several devices at one time. Another option is to buy “smart plugs”. One of our clients (http://safeplug.com/) offers “smart” electrical outlets that will report to you the amount of usage for every device plugged into them as well as offer some fire/shock safety that is also advantageous.
  3. Encourage Online/Video conferencing based meetings – sometimes it is necessary to meet face to face and brainstorm ideas but whenever possible, save on some unnecessary travel by meeting online.
  4. Rely less on heating/air conditioning – purchase a digital thermostat to ensure that the temperature is adjusted accordingly during off hours; Close the blinds in the summer when heat is a concern or open them in the winter; Be open to casual dress for your employees. In the summer allow them to dress more light/comfortably so there is less reliance upon the air conditioning system and the opposite in the winter.
  5. Reduce, Reuse & Recycle – I know, its cliché, but just taking that extra step to ensure every recyclable item is discarded appropriately will, in volume/time, make a huge impact.


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