Going Green: How to Make an Environmentally Friendly Office
Earth Day is quickly approaching, and for many, this day is a reminder to place more consideration on efforts to go green. While going green at home can be relatively simple- adding a recycle bin for all your plastic and paper items can make a huge difference- going green in the office is not always that easy. With most people spending almost 1,700 hours a year in an office, huge amounts of waste are accumulated throughout the work week. Despite common practices of reducing, reusing and recycling, here are a few ideas and benefits to making your office a little more environmentally friendly this Earth Day:
Ditch the Plastic
Plastic bottles and cups are a notorious source of pollution worldwide, especially in our offices. Not only is it wasteful to use a new bottle every day, but it is also not cost efficient either. Opting for more eco-friendly and less-expensive options like a reusable bottle, or a water filtration system cuts down on expenses and waste.
As a substitute for all plastic, styrofoam, and paper, look into purchasing a set of dishes, glasses, utensils, plates, and cups. It may be a bit more expensive initially but having one set that can be washed and reused, saves money in the budget every month, rather than buying disposable ones.
As K-cups have turned the coffee world around, they have changed the environment too. Awareness has grown in recent years of the issues surrounding polyethylene- lined disposable coffee cups. But we can’t just get rid of coffee, so we thought of a couple of solutions.
It is not necessary to throw out your Keurig’s, but purchasing a reusable filter, and putting in your own coffee grinds will do the trick. This is a less expensive alternative, rather than purchasing k-cups for a whole office.
Seeing as the price of the regular coffee versus the K-cups are substantially different. In addition to the k-cups, having reusable cups can make a huge difference in the waste of an office as well as their operational budget.
Installing solar panels to conserve electricity is always a great route to take; however, this may not be a viable option for most. There are still many ways to conserve energy and cut down on the monthly electric bill.
First, focus on your lighting. Replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs conserves more energy than a regular light bulb.
Another option is to invest in timed or motion sensor lights. Sensors can protect against absentmindedness, in terms of turning lights off in low-traffic rooms or outdoor areas.
Timers can help business owners plan out and potentially cut their monthly energy costs when paired with the appropriate lighting. In fact, these improvements will all work best if combined with energy-efficient light bulbs and lighting fixtures.
This can also pertain to most technology as well. Keeping computer equipment updated; current new computers and monitors are more energy efficient than those more than a few years old.
If new equipment is not within your budget, then switching your computers settings to standby mode when it’s not being used saves energy as well.
When it comes to heating and cooling your business, this takes up nearly half of your energy cost.
Installing a smart thermostat maintains a safe temperature of your choice, and keeps the system from overworking. Like the timed lights, you can set the thermostat to heat or cool to a preferred temperature for a certain amount of time. This could mean turning the system off altogether after business hours, or even just setting it back a couple of degrees so it does not work so hard throughout the night.
More than 45% of paper printed each day ends up in the trash before the day is over, so cutting down on an office’s paper use is vital.
We may not be able to completely omit printing altogether, however, printing double-sided will cut the paper use in half.
Having a scrap paper bin close to the printer, allows those unwanted pieces to be turned over and used again.
Something that people often forget about are their signs. These are necessary for communicating any products or services you may offer to a customer. Instead of using traditional paper for these signs and paying the daunting cost every time you need more or an updated version, switch to digital signs. Digital signs can be displayed on a tv or a projector, and it is much easier to change and update.
An outdated filing or record system can contribute to a large amount of paper use in an office. Storing all files in an online cloud as well as e-signing documents eliminates the need for a hard copy of everything. With files having to be saved for up to five years, saving to an external hard drive is much more efficient and easier to locate than an old school filing system.
Besides reducing carbon footprints, going green has huge benefits on a business. With just a few adjustments you can reduce your electric bill and even get qualified for government incentives and partnership.
Some of these benefits included being qualified for the federal solar tax credit, ITC- Investment Tax Credit, which allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of installing a solar energy system from your federal taxes.
Any effort to make the office a little greener is worth it. Sustaining our environment can start in our workplaces just by making a few simple changes. So, this Earth Day let's ditch the plastics and save our environment.