New Year’s Resolution #6 – Be Green at Work

It can be easy to abandon our green habits when we leave the house, especially once we’re at the office. On those hectic days when you’re working hard, grabbing lunch on the run, or stuck at work way past happy hour, it may not seem worth the effort to follow through on your New Year’s resolution to go green. But with a few small changes, you can make it easy to bring your eco-friendly lifestyle into the workplace in 2012.     

One of the best ways to make your day eco-friendly is to green your commute. You can start an office carpool or take public transportation, and if you live close to work you can walk or ride a bike. Transportation if one of the biggest sources of air pollution – it accounts for over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emission in the U.S. – and every car you can take off the road helps the environment.

Reducing waste in the office is another key way to keep things green away from home. A single take-out lunch may not seem that bad, but when you multiply all those foam containers, plastic cutlery, and paper napkins by five lunches a week, you end up with a big pile of trash. But with just a few minutes of planning the night before, you can bring nutritious meals from home in reusable containers and avoid the environmental cost of foam and plastic take-out boxes. And it’s easy for the whole office to cut down on garbage when your office kitchen is stocked with reusable or compostable tableware and cutlery. Also be sure to keep a reusable water bottle and coffee mug at your desk so you don’t have to throw away plastic water bottles or disposable cups.

Another big source of waste in the office is printer paper: American office workers use 120 pounds of paper each per year. Reduce that waste by printing only when necessary, and when you have to print, use both sides of the paper and smaller fonts to help keep your paper use low. You can even install software that will monitor printer efficiency and make recommendations for how you can reduce the amount of paper you use.

When the day is done, be sure to conserve energy by turning off all the electronics in your office. It might seem easier to just leave everything on at the end of the day, but all those lights, computers, and printers will still be using energy while you’re at home asleep. A computer uses five watts of energy an hour even when it’s turned off, so try when you can to unplug electronics at the source. You can use power strips or timers to ensure your office is as energy efficient as possible.

The best way to keep up these green habits all day long is to get your whole office involved. Start an office-wide recycling program to make it easy for everyone to recycle printer paper, plastic bottles, and other common office trash and encourage your coworkers to join you in boycotting disposable kitchen products. Together, you can also urge your company to purchase eco-friendly products like recycled paper and energy efficient appliances. Going green can be easy when you work together!

Goals for 2012

• Green your commute. You’ll be reducing toxic car emissions if you take the bus, ride a bike, or carpool.

• Bring your lunch in reusable containers and stock up on reusable and compostable tableware to cut down on kitchen waste.   

• Keep a reusable water bottle and coffee mug nearby to avoid having to use disposable plastic.

• Conserve resources at the office by limiting the amount you print and by turning off your computer at the end of the day.


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