A Greener You: 60 Tips to A Greener Work Day

Posted on October 29, 2010 in Fun, Green Your Life

By creating a greener you, you create a greener world. We all know the benefits in becoming greener on a daily basis, but we all could use some help in how we do it. Especially in a place we go to everyday; our jobs.

Here are 60 ways you can green up your workday that will save you and your company plenty of money; all while saving our Mama Earth.

Going to the Office

1. Encourage ridesharing and alternative transportation: Giving employees incentives to share rides or ride their bikes, coupled with telecommuting options, will help to green your business.

2. Use teleconferencing instead of physical meetings: Does your company really need all those face-to-face meetings, or could they be held virtually? Use teleconferencing or video calls to conserve on transportation, and explore the many free options available to you, such as Skype.

3.Skip the Business Travel
When the leaders of America’s motor industry flew in their private jets to Washington to beg for a handout, the waste and luxury didn’t do their claims of penury much good. Perhaps if they had bought HP’s Halo video-conferencing system, they might have had a better press. But they wouldn’t have needed to splash out even that far.  ACT Conferencing enables green, virtual, long-distance meetings (you can even calculate the amount of carbon dioxide you’ll be saving) and Webex lets former business travelers pack an entire conference into their mobile phones. So much for air miles.

4.Commute with Muscle Power
You might be able to skip the trip to Shanghai with a virtual conference but you still have to get to the office in the morning. Instead of sitting in traffic though, give your legs a workout. Buy a bike and take the trails or plug in your iPod and walk. It might take you a little longer but it will be better for your health – and the planet’s.

5.
Take Public Transport

Unless, of course, by the time you get there it will be time to come home. If walking or cycling are out of the question then take another look at public transport. Compared to private vehicles, public transport is said to produce 95 percent less carbon monoxide and almost 50 percent less carbon dioxide for every passenger mile traveled. And if the weirdo sits next to you, you can just change seats.

6.
Make the Company Fleet Hybrid

Despite the benefits of cycling, walking and busing though, people still tend to prefer traveling in their own cars. Better still, they prefer traveling in their company cars. If you get to make the purchasing decisions about the corporate fleet then at least go for hybrid. Your employees will still get to drive around but the fuel costs will be far lower, and when the car carries your logo, everyone will know you care.

7.
Work from Home

In fact, the only thing better than driving a company hybrid car to work is not going to work at all. Work from home – or allow your employees to do so – and you’ll win all round. Your employees will love the fact that they don’t have to commute, you’ll get to win better loyalty with improved conditions and you’ll still be saving the planet. If you worry it might not work for your business, try it once a week and check the difference in productivity. Even just one day a week will cut the car pollutants by 20 percent and make your workers feel they have a longer weekend.

For the Office

8. Make an everyday item green: Take an everyday item and create a green version of it. Is there something we use all the time that could be made more environmentally friendly? New niches pop up all the time, so don’t be afraid to explore green options of mundane objects.

9. Green office: Take your office supplies and space to the next green level by making eco-friendly choices in your business office. Sometimes going green in the office means choosing a greener alternative, but it may also mean looking at your current situation and figuring out what you don’t need to purchase anymore.

10.
Clean green:
Purchase eco-friendly alternatives for cleaning and maintaining your business office and manufacturing site. In some industries, there aren’t many green options for cleaning or maintenance, but for many businesses, there’s a greener alternative for just about any cleaning supplies.

11. Green the air: Clean the air in your operations by using live plants, and consider installing an air filtration system to protect employees and customers. Encourage employees or customers to bring in plants for your office, and ask the resident green thumb to take on watering responsibilities.

12. On-site rainwater collection: Install rainwater collection equipment for watering your landscape. Low-cost alternatives might be landscaping with water harvesting in mind, or finding used 55 gallon barrels instead of purchasing new containers.

13. Check the Home Office Insulation
Garages are made for parking cars not for use as offices – and unlike home office workers, cars don’t needed to be kept warm with heaters in the winter. That means they’re not always properly insulated and sealed. The amount you’ll save by insulating properly will depend on the size of the space and how you do it.

14. Raise the A/C
Every degree that you raise your air conditioning level leads to savings of between 3-5 percent in energy costs. You’ll barely notice a couple of degrees more but saving 10 percent of your air conditioning bill will make a difference to your business’s expenditures, and the planet too.

15. Go Solar
One of the best ways to save energy is to use the free, renewable kind. While plenty of homes in sunny places now use solar panels to heat the water, it’s also possible to charge your mobile device just by opening up the solar sheets. Unless you do a lot of phone-talking, you won’t save a huge amount but every little counts.

16. Grab Some Wind Power
Your neighbors might not like it, but who’s asking them? Putting a windmill on your property could reduce your energy bills by as much as 80 percent. Unfortunately, this isn’t a matter of adding a little plastic fan to your garden. Working windmills are big. But if your business is out in the wilds and you have the space, you might almost be able to get off the grid.

17. Create an Office Garden
And what could make for a greener kitchen than tea leaves picked straight from the office garden or tomatoes plucked from shrubbery. Forget about planting a ficus or watering the spider plant. Load up on plants you can eat. You can’t be more local or organic than the products of your windowbox.

18. Check the Energy Star Ratings
If you’re considering buying a new fridge (or any other appliance) either for your office or your home, you might be thinking about size, reliability and appearance. But look too at its energy star ratings. They’ll tell you how much energy the item sucks in – and how much you can save by buying an uglier – but more efficient – model.

19. Recycle
There’s a good chance you’re doing this anyway, especially if local laws require you to do so. But make it easy for any employees to recycle -and for you not to cheat – by placing different bins in the office. And include one for batteries too. Because they’re only thrown out occasionally, they often get forgotten. When you’ve got lots of people working in one space though, you might find the bin fills up very quickly, preventing the odd AA from slipping into the garbage.

20. Use Biodegradable Garbage Bags
And if you’re going to be tossing out the old cleaning materials then make sure you use a biodegradable garbage bag. These break down in a matter of months (so don’t leave them in the bin too long), freeing up space in the landfill and preventing the planet becoming clogged with long sheets of black plastic.

21. Ditch the Halogens
Halogen lamps might be low-voltage and easy to control with dimmer switches, but they’re not very efficient, producing more heat than traditional incandescents.  Measured in lumens, a measurement of light produced per watt, halogens only produce 15 lumens per watt, just five more than incandescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs create 50 to 60 lumens, and fluorescent tubes 100 lumens.

22. Buy Quality
If you are going to buy new though, buy the best you can afford. That’s always sound economic advice anyway but it’s also good ecological advice. The better the item, the longer it’s likely to last and the less often you’ll have to throw things away.

23. Buy Local
Ideally, the best computer or office desk will be made at a workshop within walking distance of your office and be entirely constructed of recycled parts. In practice, that’s not going to be too likely, leaving you to weigh up the benefits of paying for long-lasting quality against the advantages of lower transportation costs. Buy a good computer monitor, but shop for the canteen veggies in the farmer’s market.

Working in the Office

24. Ditch the fax machine: Opt to send incoming to faxes to your computer instead of printing them, and send your faxes that way as well. It’s one less piece of equipment to maintain and supply power to.

25. Paperless banking and billing: Choose paperless statements from your bank, your suppliers, your utilities, and pay your invoices electronically to save on paper waste.

26. Choose green phone and internet service: Explore the option of getting your phone and internet services from a green or socially responsible company. Making the choice to patronize another green business says a lot about a company, and can be used prominently in your green marketing efforts.

27. Use Recycled Paper
The easiest step to greening your office is to make sure that the paper you use is recycled. That’s simple enough when you’re only talking about printer paper but most offices – even home offices – use paper in all sorts of different ways. Business cards can be made of recycled materials, as can disposable towels, toilet paper and canteen napkins.

28. Use Smaller Font – Aside from just recycling papers, using smaller font will actually saves reams per week. Other little paper saving tricks include double-sided printing and using electronic files over printed hardcopies. Not only will you be saving paper costs, but you’ll also be saving printing costs and trash-hauling costs. Hewlett Packard is one example of a company putting these ideas to use, recycling as much as 43 million pounds of paper – that’s about 367,000 trees.

29. Stock a Green Canteen
The fridges in workplace canteens often contain something green but usually it’s just the mayonnaise left by the long-gone graphic designer. The food you supply your staff though can be good for your workers and good for the environment too. Next time you fill up the cookie jar or buy a bag of coffee save the world  by heading for the organic nibbles and the sustainable beans.

30. Drink Tap Water
But don’t sell it, because whether you choose to drink the stuff that falls out of the sky or not, it is worth ditching the bottled water. The liquid that comes out of the tap is usually perfectly drinkable, even if it’s often tastier with a filter. Dropping the bottle will save on plastics and transportation.

31. Power Down
According to one estimate, the typical American home contains around 20 electrical ‘vampires’ – appliances that remain on standby even when they’ve been turned off. Those appliances, including computers and television screens, together cost the household around $200 a year. You might not want to unplug your fridge every night but you can ditch the screensaver and save power by powering down completely at the end of the day.

32. Refurbish Rather than Renew
Recycling your garbage might be an old and easy standard, but how about your office furniture? Or someone else’s? Just because a desk chair has lost a wheel or torn the upholstery doesn’t mean it can’t be fixed. Either take it to be repaired or save some cash – and some resources – by buying used.

33. Go Digital
The paperless office was first mentioned in a BusinessWeek article back in 1975. We’re still not there. Companies still insist on sending and receiving faxes, printing contracts and producing paper goods, even though much of it is unnecessary. Faxes today can be both sent and received online, signatures added electronically, and much of the documents passed around today could easily by distributed by PDF and read on screens and mobile devices. Print your receipts but the look to keep everything else digital.

34. Ditch the Junk Mail
And that includes your direct mail leaflets too. They might bring in a lead for every couple of hundred pieces delivered but there are so much easier ways of finding new clients than stuffing everyone’s mailbox. And no, that doesn’t mean spam. Even AdWords is more cost-effective than direct mail – and it doesn’t cost trees.

35. Print on Both Sides
If you are going to print though, then at least do it smart. Use both sides of the paper. Most decent printers these days allow for double-sided printing, and the savings – fifty percent of your paper bill – make the search for the next page worthwhile. Just be sure to include page numbers to make the paging easy to follow.

36. Block the Toilet
Not completely, of course, but just a little. Dropping a plastic container filled with stones into the toilet reservoir can reduce the amount of water used with each flush by as much as four liters. That’s a huge saving, especially in an office filled with regular coffee drinkers.

Strategy

37. Integrate green into your business plan: Start designing green into your business from day one. Include the environmental aspects of your product or service in your business plan.

38. Write your environmental mission statement: Craft a green mission statement and display it prominently, periodically reviewing it for relevancy. Having a clear vision helps to define how and why you try to be greener, and it helps to communicate it to customers as well.

39. Build a company culture conducive to reuse and recycling: Making recycling and reuse the norm within your business means it will flourish without having to force those habits on people.

40. Join green business groups: Use green business networks to learn from other successful green businesses or to form partnerships or collaborate with them. In an effective network, any cost associated with joining will probably more than pay for itself through increased knowledge, customers, or collaboration.

41. Appoint a sustainability director: Assign one person in your business the responsibility for coordinating your green efforts. With one person accountable for sustainability, you’ll be better able to track your green projects.

42. Get an Energy Audit
An energy auditor will review your home or office, looking for leaks and spotting opportunities for greater efficiency. You can bring in a pro or you can even do it yourself. The government will help.

43. Know your Carbon Footprint
An energy audit will show you how you can improve. Calculating your carbon footprint though will tell you why you should improve. You’ll have to do a bit of number-crunching but there are plenty of calculators available to help you. Just try not to be too shocked at the result.

44. Buy Carbon Offsets
There are some things you’ve just got to do though. Even with a windmill, solar panels, digital products and a half-blocked toilet, you’re still going to be producing waste, burning fuel and degrading the planet a little. But you can make up for it by buying offsets to your carbon footprint. The Carbon Fund has programs for individuals and businesses.

Marketing

45. Green marketing: Make strides to green your marketing efforts. Go digital, using social media, a blog, PPC or banner advertising to reach customers. Many times the cost is much lower than traditional marketing practices because there is no physical deliverable, and because the internet is a real-time network, you can adjust your copy or placement over and over until you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

46. Sponsor a Non-Profit
Most of the ways to green your business involve changing a few habits or swapping some appliances for more efficient versions. But sponsoring the activities of an environmental group allows you to help preserve the ecosystem and win some valuable publicity too.

47. Make Coupon Deals with Vegetarian Restaurants
Many businesses choose to make life a little more comfortable for their employees by negotiating discount rates from local restaurants. But animal farming, with its use of feedlots and chemicals, and its production of boatloads of manure and cow flatulence, is more damaging to the climate than the entire transport industry combined. Going veggie will improve your health, reduce animal suffering and it will be good for the planet too. And making coupon deals with local vegetarian restaurants will give your workers a reason to cut the meat consumption as well.

48. Make your Gifts Organic
Giving gifts to clients, suppliers, employees and even outsourced staff is a good way to cement loyalty and give your business a firmer base. Presents show that you care and that you appreciate the recipient. A gift of something green and organic, such as a fruit basket will make your holiday list doubly generous.

Production

49. Combine manufacturing processes: Does your business have multiple steps in manufacturing? An audit to see about combining two or more processes may save you money and energy in the long run.

50. Use waste as resource: What types of waste does your business generate? Can any of it be repurposed or used in any way as a resource for the company? What about for another business?

51. Consider alternative materials: When sourcing materials, investigate the not-so-obvious alternatives, considering the eco-friendliness of each one. It might be that the greener option doesn’t have a significantly higher cost associated with it, and can be used as a green marketing hook.

52. Choose renewable energy: Power your operations with renewable energy, or consider investing in alternative power for your business. In many places, an alternative energy option is available from the power company, usually for a small price premium above regular rates. If using green energy can be a bigger selling point for your business, consider thinking of the premium as part of your marketing budget.

53. Source your materials from green suppliers: Investigate your options for sourcing your materials and give more weight to green businesses. Purchasing local or from a green business doesn’t always carry an extra cost – in fact, it might make more sense in terms of overall impact to make those choices. Again, it can all be a part of your business’ unique selling points.

54. Source materials and services locally: Can you source the materials or services needed for your business from the local area? Local sourcing helps eliminate any excess transportation impact, while supporting businesses located nearby.

55. Maintain all equipment for maximum efficiency: How long has it been since you’ve last cleaned out the fans and filters on your equipment? Do you have a regular maintenance schedule for your devices? Well maintained equipment will pump up your energy and time efficiency.

56. Conduct a life-cycle assessment for your product: Your manufacturing process might have unnecessary steps or materials, and assessing the life-cycle of your products and processes can help to identify cost or time savings.

57. Eliminate all disposables from company operations: What items do you regularly purchase for your business that are considered disposable? Can they be replaced with a durable or permanent option? Investing in a longer-lasting version might also be a way of cutting your costs over time.

58. Cut the Packaging
Pick up an individually-wrapped apple in a grocery store and there’s little you can do but gnash your teeth in rage. Unless you create products too. In that case, keep the packaging to the minimum needed to attract eyes, and give the wrapper a second use.

59. Recyclable Shipping Boxes
Use shipping boxes and containers made from recycled materials, or try reusable containers. Reuse boxes and containers as many times as you can. Most carriers offer shipping boxes for free and some even offer eco-friendly options

60. Verify Shipping Addresses & Send Once 
Eliminate undeliverable shipments by using address verification software. This reduces the use of fossil fuels and vehicle emissions for undeliverables. If you’re shipping multiple items to a single address, consolidate all the items into a single shipment.

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About Rusty

Rusty Shackleford is the head of Social Media at NDF.

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