Almost everyone would like to go green, both at home and at work, but it’s hard to know where to start. Making small changes in your home or work office is a simple way to benefit the environment and your pocketbook.

Possible changes in your office include conservation, recycling, new product choices, and new travel policies.

The first area to tackle is digging out from under the mounds of paper spawned by the computer revolution. Working with electronic documents and using email–without printing paper back-ups–can significantly reduce paper use. So can double-sided copying and printing.

Recycled paper and supplies may cost more but they represent energy savings and make a positive statement. Recycle used paper, along with cans, bottles, cardboard, boxboard and plastics.  Be responsible disposing of florescent lighting and electronic equipment.

Energy Star computers and printers save electricity; so does turning off computers and equipment at night. Occupancy light sensors, auto-setback thermostats, energy efficient lighting, and lower water temperatures all save energy.  To support green on a more global basis, you can purchase kilowatt blocks of renewable energy-sourced electricity from your local power company. Water consumption can be reduced with low flow fixtures and fixing leaks promptly.

When budgets get tight, mileage and travel is often cut back, but minimizing car travel has a very positive impact on the environment as well as the pocketbook. Despite decades of car-pooling promotion, over 70% of American workers ride to work alone.  Positive steps to take include instituting part-time telecommuting, mandatory carpooling for company trips, use of public transportation where available, and meeting by telephone or web. Sometimes meeting face to face is essential, but eliminating those trips that aren’t will save time and money and reduce pollution, too.

With a little thought, your office can be more environmentally friendly and save you money, too.

The Sustainable Office Toolkit, at p2ad.org/toolkit, offers a comprehensive look at creating a green plan for your office, including modules on waste reduction, purchasing, conservation and green building.

– Elizabeth Penney

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