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Going Green at the Office

In the article Where You May Be Wasting Your Money, I spoke about some ways to save money. Some of those tips also save energy. Those two often go hand in hand, which is a bonus. As important as it is to save some dough, being conscious of our environment has an even bigger payoff. We’re lucky to have so many conveniences in life. But, as with some great things, there comes a price. Human beings produce a substantial amount of waste. The good news is that there are some pretty simple things you can do to cut down on it. Keep in mind that these suggestions are great for the workplace, but also good for the home.

* Power off: It may not seem like much, but I challenge you to track your energy bill for one month upon doing this. Before leaving the office, turn off lights, your computers and anything else that is not essential to keep on. To take it a step further; install motion sensors to rooms that aren’t in use all day. Many businesses use these in restrooms to save energy and cash.

* All in one products: Technology is wonderful! However, we could cut down on clutter and energy by using all in products. For example, using a printer that also faxes and scans is a great investment. And nowadays, that investment isn’t very large. They now make these machines quite affordable now.

*Paper products: We waste tons of money and resources by using so many paper products. It’s difficult to get rid of them completely, I know. But there are ways to do it. An electric hand dryer in the restroom is a perfect example. This also keeps the bathroom tidier. How many times have you gone to a public restroom only to find a trash can overflowing with waste? And if you using disposable products like paper plates and cups is necessary, be sure they’re recyclable.

* Recycle: That last tip is a good segue to this one. Have recycling bins all around your office space. Of course, you’ll want to know what is recyclable in your area. In many areas, paper, plastic and aluminum are all able to be recycled. This makes a huge difference in the environment and becomes second nature.

* Unplug: Taking the whole “power off” thing to another level is unplugging completely. Obviously, there are some pieces of equipment you simply can’t do this with. However, the ones you can (chargers for instance), you can have plugged into a power strip that you can just click off every night to make life simpler. If it’s too much to do every day, at least try doing it on weekends.

*Print sparingly: Fortunately, with sharing capabilities on our computers and phones, printing isn’t as necessary as it used to be. When it is though, use recycled paper and the economy setting on your printer if it’s not a presentation.

*Energy Efficient products: I’m a believer in buying second hand! “It may not be new, but it’s new to me” is my motto. There are certain items this credo doesn’t apply to; shoes, undergarments and appliances. Older appliances were often made without being energy efficient. Purchase Energy Star items to not only save you energy, but also money. Using fluorescent as opposed to incandescent bulbs will conserve energy as well.

*Solar panels: While this can be pricey to initially install, it will pay for itself and then some. Each state is different, so do some research to see how much you could save. It’s significant, especially when you factor in tax credits and rebates available.

*Regular maintenance: Oftentimes, we don’t realize how much energy and money we waste not fixing things. Toilets that run and sinks that drip literally makes our cash go down the drain. Many times, it’s an easy fix, too. In addition, regularly clean air filters in air conditioners, heaters, and refrigerators. The air quality will improve and your appliance will operate more efficiently.

*Plants: Having greenery in the office has many benefits. Plants are known to reduce stress and improve oxygen levels in the air we breathe. They also make people feel more at home. Plants also help diffuse noise, causing less distractions to working employees.

*Carpooling: This is a great way to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality and save money. So, if your employees work in close proximity to one another, and it’s feasible, encourage them to carpool.

*Water: Water bottles are one of the leading sources of waste. While many are recyclable, they take over 1,000 years to bio-degrade. If they go to an incinerator, they cause toxic fumes. And sadly, many people don’t even put those bottles in a recycling bin. Instead, opt for filtered water in your refrigerator. Water coolers are a better option to water bottles. Finding one that can connect to your plumbing, with a filter, is the best option. You don’t have the waste of replacing all the bottles or having the task of replacing it when it runs out. Don’t forget to use recyclable cups!

*Rechargeable batteries: So many of our gadgets, from our remote control to a flashlight, requires batteries. We spend an exorbitant amount of money on them. You are now able to purchase rechargeable batteries. This saves you not only money, but time and energy.

Even doing some of these things will make a difference in your wallet and leave a smaller carbon footprint. Challenge yourself today and track the difference in your energy bill. Share your results with us and let us know what you did to go green at the office.

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