Going Green(er) At The Office

Posted by on July 28, 2009 in Business Management [ 0 Comments ]

One of the most common misconceptions about going “green” is that it’s expensive.  It doesn’t need to be- in fact, conserving resources is also a great way to conserve cash.  We know- you’ve already heard that purchasing a recycling bin or emailing memos instead of printing them can add up to huge savings (yeah-just like you’ll be able to save for retirement in just a short while by skipping that daily $5 latte).  But a big impact doesn’t require big changes to the way you work already- it can be as simple as using your existing office copier to scan paper documents.  Here are a few quick and easy changes that can help you in your effort to go green(er) at the office:

Buy refurbished supplies.
Keyboards, mice (mouses?) monitors, and other equipment can be purchased on the cheap from retailers that deal in refurbished equipment.  You can also go the DIY recycling route and look for deals on eBay and craigslist.  Or trade in used equipment when you’re done using it.

Buy earth-friendly materials.  You can’t plead ignorance anymore- you know what’s in that printer ink, and how much waste is created by throw-away cartridges!  Use “solid” ink and other earth-friendly materials: recycled paper, biodegradable packaging components, and other office staples usually cost the same as the less earth-friendly options.

Buy sparingly. Studies show that our consumption habits are based not so much on actual need, but availability of resources.  Office supply closet stocked with paper, ink, and toner at all times?  People will use it- and not think twice about accidentally printing a second copy.  Closet looks like it needs a refill?  People conserve.

Track use. Most office copier machines have tracking functions, where you can tell which department or employee is printing, and how much.  Use these features to your advantage by targeting the most wasteful offenders.

Bring your own dishes. Disposable food containers are one of the chief sources of non-recycled waste.  Americans alone reportedly throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles hourly. Keep real silverware and dishes on hand, and invest in a travel coffee mug- most coffee shops will even give you a discount for using it.

…Or walk to lunch.  Good rule: if the lunchtime taco/sushi/burger place is less than a mile away, walk there.  It won’t take longer than driving and finding a good parking space, and you’ll feel a lot lighter and more energetic when you get back to work.

Use less paper. Use printed sheets you no longer need as “scratch” paper for notes.  This is really easy- you can set up a “scratch paper” bin by the printer that anyone can take from as needed.  Bonus- stumbling on juicy office gossip when people accidentally discard emails they probably shouldn’t have printed (From: Kate in Payroll.  To: Jim in Sales. Subject: Last Night.  Hmm…)

Use less paper, part II. Get a credit card processing terminal that has an electronic signature capture device so you don’t need to print a receipt for every transaction.  Many customers will actually decline a printed receipt if asked- so ask them!

Send emails. Email marketing is cheap, easy, and fast.  Don’t waste paper when you don’t need to: email customer invoices, order summaries, and other correspondences.  They’ll probably thank you for making a dent in their junk mail pile.

Use online invoicing and payroll services.
Instead of giving each employee a paper check inside an envelope twice a month, set up a direct deposit service with a payroll outsourcing company.  Most services start at as little as a few dollars per check- less than the cost of printing and mailing.

Turn off the lights.
Yeah, it sounds like something your cheap grandpa would say- probably because it actually does save money on electricity costs.

Switch to electronic document storage. Download a free document management program and use your existing office copier to scan documents.

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