Green Your Office

You’ve been making efforts to reduce your environmental impact at home, but what about the office? If you work outside the home, your efforts may be more challenging but even still there are many things you can do to practice the “Three R’s” while earning a living. Here are some tips on greening your office and work day.

- Let’s start with the commute. If possible, use mass transit or carpool. Some cities are even paying their citizens to do so. It’s worth looking into.

- Use your travel mug for your morning cup of java. Try Bento for a fun “brown bag” lunch that your co-workers will envy!

- If you can convince your supervisors, try to telecommute a couple of days a week. You might have to sell them on the benefits so be prepared. Arm yourself with information on how telecommuting benefits everyone involved. Or do something really different and work from home. Take the skills you currently possess and market your services from home with a Virtual Assistant business. The internet has provided so many ways for moms to stay at home and make money. You’ll save on taxes, childcare, work clothes, gas and many other expenses.

- Go digital. Do you really need to print that document or receipt? Or would a digital copy of it suffice? Use an email faxing service instead of the fax machine to save on paper. When you do print, do it on both sides of the paper, make the margins smaller, and print 2- 4 sheets per page. Just adjust your printer’s default preferences.

- Don’t upgrade. Do you really need the latest whiz-bang computer equipment, or will your old computer do just fine? Upgrading your system by repairing it instead of chucking it an buying new is smart and may save you money too. If you must throw out old office equipment, recycle it. Some retailers are getting hip to the green consumer and may offer you a rebate for doing so. At the very least, freecycle it or find an online auctioner seller who can part it out for you on eBay.

- Think quality. Paying more for nicer office supplies and equipment may pay off in the short term. Planned obsolescense is a reality of our modern marketplace. Buying quality keeps stuff out of the trash.

- If you must print, do it on both sides of your paper, and reduce your margins (which are likely set far wider than you need them for comfortable reading). You can easily print 4 to 6 sheets on one piece of paper this way.

- Take extra paper home to the kids for art projects. Keep a box handy for your co-workers to do the same, and they just might oblige you.

- Turn down the heat and put on a cardigan and socks.

- Make your meetings virtual with telephone conferencing and webinars instead of driving to location.

- Recycle your printer cartridges (Staples offers $3 coupons for your old cartridges) or refill them.

- Set your computer to sleep mode if you’ll be away for a few minutes, and turn it off completely for lunch and when you go home. Contrary to popular belief, powering down your computer does NOT shorten its life.

- Buy used office furniture. Antiques are beautiful and hold their value. If you’re more the modern type, buy from retailers like Green Office who offer sustainable products.

- Use solar polar for your cell phone, PDA, mp3 player and laptop.

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