In this section:
- Lunch and coffee breaks
- Greening your commute
- Energy savings and resource conservation
- Waste reduction
- Miscellaneous tips
Lunch and Coffee Breaks
NO/LOW COST! Green your coffee breaks. Replace your coffee with fair-trade, rainforest certified, shade grown, or organic coffee.
NO/LOW COST! Brown-bag it! Bring your lunch to work in reusable containers with reusable plate, utensils, and napkins. Avoid delivery and takeout. When you do order delivery, join coworkers in placing a large order (more efficient than many separate ones).
Green Your Commute
According to the Annual Urban Mobility Report, American workers spend an average of 47 hours per year commuting through rush hour traffic (cited by TreeHugger). This adds up to 3.7 billion hours and 23 billion gallons of gas wasted in traffic each year.
We can ease some of this strain by carpooling, taking public transit, biking, walking, or a creative combination thereof. Or, you might adjust your work routine to cut back on commuting. Commuting just one less day can reduce the energy and time spent on commuting by 20%! Telecommuting, as an example, reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and saves you the time you would have spent on the commute. New technology has made effective telecommuting a reality. TreeHugger noted that telecommuting works for 44 million Americans!
If you can’t telecommute, consider a modified work schedule to reduce the number of cars on the road during rush hour, or consider the possibility of working four ten-hour days instead of five eight-hour days (a consolidated workweek). See our Steps You Can Take On the Go page for more information about commute and transportation options.
Energy Efficiency and Resource Conservation
FREE! Set computers to the best available energy-saving settings. Putting just one computer to “sleep/standby” can reduce up to 300 lbs. of carbon monoxide emissions a year; but these settings STILL continue to draw power when the computer’s not even in use! Make sure to shut computers down when you leave for the day as long as your IT department does not require them to be on.
FREE! Plug hardware into a power strip with an on/off switch (or a smart power strip) so the whole desktop setup can be turned off at once (make sure to power down inkjet printers before killing the power–they need to seal their cartridges). Printers, scanners, and other peripherals that are only used occasionally can be unplugged until they’re needed.
FREE! Turn off lights in spaces that are unoccupied.
$ Switch to CFLs. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) use 66% less energy than old incandescent bulbs, and can last more than a dozen times longer!
$-$$ The greenest paper is no paper at all! Whenever possible, keep files on screen and avoid printing on paper. The more you do online, the less you need paper.
NO/LOW COST! Choose options to print on both sides when you must print, and purchase recycled paper with the highest percentage of post-consumer content and the minimum of chlorine bleaching.
FREE! Reuse the back of single-sided print-outs as scrap paper.
$ Reduce your Paper Waste; and learn about Paper Alternatives. Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, 17 mature trees, and 2 barrels of oil. The average American uses 110 lbs. of paper at the office, meaning just 19 people produce a ton
$ Add plants to your office. One plant for every three people improves air quality by reducing dust, bacteria, and mold.
$ The next time you need new work clothes, take a visit to the local thrift stores to find something in a secondhand shop, where it’s becoming easier than ever to find fashionable and high quality clothes.
$-$$ Avoid buying items that need to be dry cleaned if you must buy your clothes new. When you do find yourself needing a visit to the dry cleaners, seek out your local “green” dry cleaner.
Share these tips with your employer and colleagues!
More Great Resources:
- Mother Nature Network’s “How to Go Green at the Office” Infographic
- TreeHugger—How to Green Your Workplace.