Green Your Office

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Eng, Lynn, Alma and 1 other

You are a witness to how the global climate is changing. The recent events and signs of climate change around the world are very dramatic and heart rending as thousands of lives perish in just one catastrophe. The bad news ... there will be more vicious storms and hurricanes, greater floods, more severe droughts, and more heat waves of unmatched occurrence and intensity. The good news ... not only are human spirits triumphing in these times of adversity, but they can also do more good if they will concertedly work in greening this planet. You can start in your own homes and, yes offices. How do you green your office?

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Since the talks about greening the planet became ripe, there have been efforts to integrate the concept in many homes. You can extend this in your office too. Of course you don't live in your office, but do you realize that you spend most of your waking moments there during weekdays? This means that you can significantly make a difference if only you will try to integrate those ECO-friendly ways to save power, conserve resources, and reduce wastes.

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Greening your office may be more challenging than doing it in your home, especially if you are just a part of a conglomerate or giant corporation. In the business or work setting, you have little control because there are more people involved. If it is a personal business, making and imposing changes is a little easier, as you have a personal choice on how things are done.

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If back home, you have installed water closets that save you water when flushing, imagine the volume of water and money that can be saved when such toilets are installed in big buildings with enormous toilets and a high number of toilet users. Likewise, imagine how much electric power you can save when those incandescent bulbs at work are replaced with CFLs or when those computers are shut down during breaks or when not necessary.

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But, if it is any consolation, going green is not just a marketing catchphrase; it is a battle cry, a corporate mission and the new way of doing things. It offers more benefits than what were once thought possible. At the end of the day, going green is a double-edged sword; it not just about saving the planet, it is also about making a business more sustainably efficient. With much benefit in the offing, businesses are definitely more greatly motivated.

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Specific Actions to Sustain Green Office Efforts

The goal for every business embracing a "green office" concept is to make it a sustainable practice and way of life for everyone. For it to work, it has to be embedded in the culture and way of life of people. It is a long-term commitment that will be challenged by time. So to get you started, here are some specific actions you can start embracing as a matter of lifestyle.

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  1. 1
    Judicious use of electricity.
    How do you save on electricity? Turn on electrical gadgets - computers, printers, paper shredders, photocopiers, etc., only when needed.
    1. Make sure that thermostats and monitors are adjusted to their most energy-efficient settings.
    2. Turn off lights when not in use or when leaving the room.
    3. Take advantage of natural light or use CFLs whenever possible.
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  2. 2
    Save paper, save trees.
    If operations can't be totally paperless, adopt ways to maximize each piece of paper used in the office. For instance, print on both sides, single-space print for drafts, and set your Word program default so that there will be narrower margins.
    1. Make use of scraps as notepads. And after you're done with the paper, recycle it.
    2. You can also enjoin the management to buy recycled paper that saves water to make and uses less energy to produce.
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  3. 3
    Inspire your office to embrace green practices.
    The best way to make green practices evolve to become a part of your "office culture" is to influence and persuade your bosses to take an active stand in greening the office. If it can become a part of the corporate VMG, then the entire office will be embracing sustainable practices without question. It will then just be a matter of time before most practices in your office become green - providing incentives to employees, recycling, reduce and reuse programs, green purchasing practices, green meetings, etc.
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  4. 4
    Push for more ECO-friendly programs.
    Once your office, from the management to the rank and file, has completely embraced green lifestyle in the office, more ECO-friendly practices can be advocated.  
    1. You can take it a step further. The most important thing is to have people working on the education or information program to make it sustainable.
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  5. 5
    If this becomes successful, many will bring these practices to their respective homes, something like a multiplier effect.
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  6. 6
    Push "Reduce, reuse, recycle" hard.
    The world resources are getting depleted, yet so much waste now sits in what is supposedly, the "living space" for the living things, especially humans.  
    1. "Reduce, reuse, recycle" is a very easy-to-understand endeavor that even kids can understand and do. In the office, it goes more than reusing office supplies.
    2. In Australia, they use a fourth R for "refuse", which means do not buy anything you do not need.
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  1. 1
    Go take the stairs.
    You do not need the elevator unless you are in a hurry. If all employees will take the few flights of steps, a huge amount of energy can be saved.  
    1. This can mean savings for the company too, that can be translated into incentives for employees.
    2. Taking the stairs is not only a savvy energy-saving practice; it will help improve your health too.
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  2. 2
    Put plants around the office.
    There are certain plants that are wonderful filters for pollutants.  
    1. They also give off oxygen and cool the air in the office as they perform transpiration that are so important, especially during days when the temperature is sizzling hot.
    2. Plants also make spaces more inviting, cozy, and relaxing.
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  3. 3
    Bring your own lunch.
    Fixing a meal to take in the office has its advantages. This tends to be more nutritious and healthy as you can control what goes into your food, and moreover, if you are to use fresh ingredients from farmers' markets.  
    1. Packing these good eats in washable and reusable containers can reduce the trash compared to buying "to go" foods from fast foods and restaurants.
    2. Using a towel napkin rather than paper napkins and paper towels can go a long way if everyone adopts the practice.
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  4. 4
    Watch what you eat.
    Whenever possible, go for ECO-friendly food choices. These are mostly organic, grown locally, and vegetarian.  
    1. You may not realize it, but cutting down on meat has a huge impact on the health of the environment.
    2. Favor local produce that are not only fresher and cheaper; they also have lower carbon footprint that reflect their "greenness."
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  5. 5
    Watch what you buy.
    These days, it is not that hard to look for ECO-friendly materials in the groceries and supply stores. For instance you can always go for non-toxic and environment-friendly cleaning products. It pays to know and remember the brands.  
    1. If you have personnel assigned to buy and use these products, encourage them to switch to ECO-friendly products.
    2. Not only will be it be safe for the environment, but it will also be safe for them to use.
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  6. 6
    What about a casual dress code?
    The word "casual" here needs to be defined because the nature of the business operation must also be considered when deciding on a dress code. It is, however, of practical importance not to wear suits when the season is sizzling hot so as to keep the cooling cost lower. This will also make the workplace a happier place for everyone.
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  7. 7
    Patronize organic and buy fair trade products.
    If you like going out for tea or coffee, choose those shops that serve organic drinks and that offer a small discount when you bring your own mugs. This is a good way to encourage businesses you deal with. As more and more office employees do this, these establishments will come to realize going organic and giving those discounts are good for their business. Later, many more establishments will follow suit.
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Green Ways to Go

  1. 1
    Know how to cut your carbon footprint. Do you know that Americans spend approximately 47 hours per annul on the average beating the rush hour traffic?  
    1. Summed up, this takes about 3.7 billion hours and more or less 23 billion gallons of gas wasted in commuter traffic every year.
    2. If you want to cut your carbon footprint, changing the way you go to work can make so much difference.
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  2. 2
    Change the way you go to work. How far is your work from home? There are several green ways to travel from home to work.  
    1. You can walk or take a bike. If the workplace is a bit far, maybe you can take public transportation or join a carpool.
    2. Find out from your community if there are groups that advocate these modes of transport so you can join them. It is much more pleasurable to walk or bike along with others.
    3. If you must use your own car, get an economy car that is fuel efficient.
    4. You can also share your ride with your neighbors going the same direction.
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  3. 3
    Change the way you do your work. With the Internet, a lot of people around the world are taking advantage of working online from home. If you try telecommuting, there is much to be gained.  
    1. Imagine being able to work in your pajamas without wrestling out in the public transportation during rush hours. The amount of time you spend on the road is well spent on work.
    2. It is easy to stay connected with the whole world by Skype, videoconferencing and other technologies.
    3. This is one way of working where a considerable carbon footprint is saved without reducing the quality of work or services rendered.
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Changing the world is hard. To create an impact, you only need to focus on doing and sustaining a few good deeds a day. If everyone has this kind of mindset, the impact can be big and significant. If each one at work tries to green their office by adopting a few of these small actions every day, the world can be made a little better each day.

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If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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Article Info

Categories : Green Living

Recent edits by: Alma, Lynn, Eng

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