There are plenty of simple changes you can make to create a greener office space. We put together a short list of tips, and also spoke to the folks at the Earth Day Network, who shared a few ways for how to make any office more environmentally conscious.
One of the easiest, least demanding ways to go green is to recycle. Set up a few colorful recycling bins around the office to encourage people to properly dispose of paper, aluminum, plastic, glass and other items. You should also set up separate bins for items such as batteries and ink cartridges.
2. Go easy on the paper.
Printers are popular machines in an office, which also makes them a hub for waste creation. In order to conserve as much paper as possible, set them up to print out everything two-sided. Not only will it save paper, it'll also make people think twice about what they're sending out. Refrain from printing things that could easily be read on a computer, tablet or smartphone, such as emails.
3. Use green products.
If possible, see what office supplies and electronics can be replaced with eco-friendly products. Check out Energy Star, the government-backed program (through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) that specializes in researching energy efficiency. Energy Star is a popular resource for workplaces looking to go green, because it certifies and promotes products that are extremely eco-friendly. Easy green alternatives include bamboo pencils, recycled printer paper, LED lightbulbs for desk lamps and more.
Related energy efficiency pro tip: Always shut down your computer, monitor and other devices when you leave for the day.
4. Give the kitchen a makeover.
One way to stop waste in the kitchen is to cut down on plastic material and instead stock up on reusable dishware, such as plates, bowls, mugs and utensils. That way, it'll encourage people to either reuse the same cup all day or bring in their own permanent kitchenware.
According to Earth 911, in the course of a year the average American office worker goes through 500 cups, and throws out enough paper and plastic cups, forks and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.If your office is just too big to avoid using disposable cutlery, opt for items that are biodegradable. When not in use, unplug microwaves, toasters, coffee makers or any other similar items. For those who bring their lunches to work, pack them in a reusable bag.
5. Travel in (eco) style.
Whenever possible, try carpooling to work with a buddy or two. You'll reduce air pollution and save money on gas. According to the EPA, ditching your car for two days per week will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1,600 pounds per year. Other alternatives include taking public transportation and biking to the office. To encourage the latter, get a bike rack built at work, so you know there will always be a safe place to put it.
6. Form a sustainability team!
What use are all these tips if nobody's keeping tabs? Appoint a few office members to create a sustainability team. That way, someone will always make sure your coworkers are upholding the greenest of practices. Bonus points if they come up with games that turn eco-friendliness into fun, office-wide competitions.