Simple Green Things At Office

recycle paper
Keep Recycle Bins Handy!

Is this scene familiar? People walking out of the meeting room & getting rid of print outs into the nearest garbage bins on their way out. Are these people not conscious about the environment? No. It is just so that they did not find any recycle bin handy!
Most people in professional environment are conscious about the need to recycle paper. They do recycle too, but not all the time. Reason - recycle bins are not very handy! Lets make it easy for everyone to reach out to the recycle bins. Here's how we can do that

  • Make sure your meeting room has a recycle bin near EVERY exit. People have the tendency of dumping paper into the nearest bin they can find. Make sure they find the recycle bin first, on their way out, before they find any other.
    Take the initiative to check all the meeting rooms on your floor, and inform the management if there aren't enough recycle bins around. The management would be more than glad to support your cause. Encourage your friends on other floors/departments to do the same.
  • Make sure there are recycle bins near every printer. This is where a lot of paper goes into nearest garbage bin. Best thing to do would be not to have any garbage bin near printers. Just have recycle bins! (Psst: The amount of paper that goes waste near the printer can very well fetch your manager his/her next bonus!)
  • Again, same applies to any fax machines, copier machines, etc. Have recycle bins around them, not garbage bins! If people want to throw garbage, let them go find the nearest garbage bin.
  • Make recycle bins handy for every cubicle. Eg: Two adjacent/opposite cubicles can share a recycle bin.
  • Train your cleaning staff
    Now, if somebody does carelessly throw away potentially re-usable items into garbage bins, train the cleaning staff to turn them over into the recycle bins. Make them aware of the potential threats to the environment due to the items that are not bio-degradeable and benefits of re-cycling.

printing green
Printing green
If you think about this deeper...printing cautiously not only saves the energy needed to make paper or the energy needed to print, it also saves the printing ink and the energy needed to produce the ink.
Printing documents is something we do everyday. Few simple things we can follow to reduce usage of paper (and save acres of green lands).

  • Print only when necessary. If you can arrange for making presentations via a projector, do not print! Email the necessary documents to your colleagues later, for their reference.
    Well, if you do need to print, then read on!
  • Printing only on one side of the paper is a real waste! Always print on BOTH SIDES. If you department does not have a printer than can do that, advice the management to get one. It can cut the department's paper costs & disposal costs straight into half!
    Here is the information on how to configure you printer settings for two-sided or duplex printing.
  • Even if your department does not have printer that can print on both sides, you can still print 2 pages on same side of the paper. Though this may not be useful for any readable content, but is certainly useful when your presentation contains pictures or slides that are visible even when they are printed on half of the paper. Most of the times, your presentations can be printed with two slides per side without losing the clarity.
  • Reviewing documents or reviewing code
    You probably have a pile of papers on your desk that have been printed on only one side. More often than not, somebody will send you documents that you need to review or a piece of code that you need to review. If you are planning to do your reviews on your way back home or on your way to office next day, you can make use of the blank side of the paper to print the code! Re-insert those unused papers back into the printer & print. Make sure to remove any unused ones back from the paper feed.
    Slightly reducing the size of the font of the document you are printing for review, can also help reduce number of pages you may need to print. Now there, dont kill yourself. Make sure you can read the document comfortably with the font you have chosen. Take good care of your eyes!
  • Lastly, if you do print, do not forget to recycle!

reusable cups
Say no to disposable Styrofoam cups!
Fact: Styrofoam cups/plates are NOT recyclable.
Fact: Styrofoam cups/plates do not decompose.

Is there a need to say any more? US disposes of 15 billion cups every year. Just think about the non-bio-degradeable refuse produced. Many offices provide styrofoam cups for drinking water/coffee at the pantry. Dont you think that trend ought to stop?
Here's what we can do to help.

  • Bring your own mugs/cups.
    So it turns out you have to wash your own mugs.
    Spending a minute to wash your cup is better than leaving a non-decomposing eye sore that is going to stick around forever. An added incentive is you can personalize your mug with your favourite pictures or photos of your loved ones. Click here to search for personalized mugs.
  • Reduce usage of use-and-throw plastic items. Couple of tough metal spoons (and may be a knife) in your office drawers can be good enough weapons to keep your over-bearing neighbour from bothering you.
  • Why use AND throw (and cause overflowing garbage bins and 500 years of agony?), when you have the option not to use in the first place!
  • Due to the environmental hazard posed by the styrofoam products, most manufacturers have switched to a corn-based product that looks, feels, and insulates just like styrofoam, but is completely recyclable and biodegradable.
    Click here to search for environmentally friendly recyclable cups.

switch off lights
Lights Out!
Electricity is one of the most commonly mis-used forms of energy. A country can save millions of dollars worth of electicity, if its citizens are a bit more self-disciplined. Think of the amount of electricity we waste every year. And think of the poor urban inhabitants, who are unfortunate enough not to recieve any. Can you live without electricity? No. But we can certainly live without wasting some!

  • Lights in the Meeting Rooms.
    This goes without saying. Something your Mom should have told you the first day of your job. Turn off those darned lights in the meeting room when nobody is using it! What a waste!
    Hate to see people still leaving the lights in the meeting room on. Somebody gotta make this a part of the induction program.
  • Lights in the common areas like pantry/smoking areas.
    Same goes with the lights in such common areas where friends gather to chat/gossip.
  • Monitors
    Turning those monitors off when not in use, can help a great deal. And its easier than switching off your computers, isn't it? But hang on, you can still turn off your computers at the end of your day.
  • Computers
    Turn off computers before you leave for the day (or ATLEAST, every weekend).
    Though these cant-live-without-them machines consume very less energy in idle state, hundreds of machines running simultaneously add up to a lot of wasted energy! Take 5 mins off at the end of your busy day to turn off your machines, before you scurry off to home. You only need them up, after about 12 hours and you can save 12 hours worth of energy! Do this & encourage your colleagues to do so. After about 6 months, your company would have saved enough money to give you a raise!

    Even in the idle state, the machines generate heat due to the electric supply they are hooked up to. This adds up to heating up of your surroundings. Turning machines off saves this heat from being escaped and keeps your surroundings cool!
  • Is "switching-off" enough?"
    OK. If switching-off wasn't enough, here's another tid-bit. Several electric devices continue consuming energy even when they are supposedly "switched-off". So, better still, let's take it to the next level - just unplug them when not in use. Go that extra mile!

open blinds
Use Natural Light

  • Raise those blinds *
    Be it meeting rooms in your office or your living room. Make use of natural light whenever you can. Nobody sends you a hefty bill for it! Do not waste electricity when natural light is available. Just raise those blinds.
    * If you have put on the air-conditioning, it is more efficient to lower the blinds to keep your room cool. Sunlight may raise the temperature of your room.
bike to work
Commuting to office

  • If you live within walking distance of your office, walk to work! Give yourself that exercise.
  • If it is too long a walk, ride a bike to work. Advantages - best way to get in shape while commuting, money saved on gas, no parking hassles, less pollution.
  • If riding a bike is not an option, try to car pool with a co-worker. Don't see anyone around who can carpool with you? Several websites provide carpool listings to bring together people interested in carpooling.
  • If you happen to live in a city with well connected public transport system, take advantage of it. Avoid the hassle of traffic, enjoy a book or movie while commuting or even a nap!
  • Use your vehilce only if you must. Stay healthy!

green home
Green Things at Home

If you haven't already, you may also read about Simple Green Things at Home

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