Over the last two decades, there has been a push for communities to “go green” and to live by the three R’s: reduce, re-use, recycle. For just as long, many businesses and home owners have wailed that the move towards environmentally friendly practices is one that places a burden on businesses and households. But is going green really as onerous a move as some say?
When it comes to recycling in the office or at home, the key steps are to reduce what is being consumer and to reuse what can be repurposed. For example, when it comes to paper, you can reduce volume by making use of both sides of a sheet of paper. When it comes time to throw printed materials out, consider using the side without printing for taking notes or jotting down brainstorming ideas. The only exceptions are for those papers with confidential information that must be shredded for security purposes.
When you consider that a ream (500 sheets) of 8 1/2 inch by 11 inch paper copy paper weighs about five pounds, it’s easy to see how quickly paper can weigh down the local landfill.
Likewise, when it comes to packaging, you can reuse packing materials such as styrofoam peanuts and kraft paper. After all, such packaging items were created to be reusable so by all means make the most of another company’s largesse when you receive a package with packaging materials you can use as well.
Whether you want to discard laptop or desktop computers, cellphones, faxes, printers, printer cartridges, ebook readers, audio equipment, and other office equipment, there are always office supply stores that are willing to facilitate this. In some communities, smaller items such as cellphones are printer cartridges can be donated to schools to turn in to recycling plants where they will be paid by the pound for what they recycle.
Another great concept is to repair rather than replace equipment such as camcorders, video cameras, cellphones, printers, copiers, etc. Just because something isn’t working or working properly, it doesn’t mean it will never work or work properly again. Consider the possibility that there may be cost savings to be had by having the item or items repaired by someone certified to repair them.
Not everything that’s printed needs to be printed. An email reminding you up an upcoming meeting can be turned into a note in your agenda book or in an electronic device. Minutes for a meeting you attended can be saved as a pdf file and saved on your computer or on an electronic device or a thumbdrive, USB key, or other recording device.
If you’re leaving a room — and where warranted — turn off the lights and close the door. There’s no need to heat a room that’s empty just as there’s no need to light a room for the furniture left behind.
Once an electronic device has been recharged, unplug the charger. When a laptop or desktop computer is sitting idle for a period of time, turn it off rather than leave it running.
If you can’t turn the electronics off because they are used often and intermittently throughout the day, put them on standby or set them up to default to standby after a set time when the item has not been in use.
Whether you’re running to the store to pick something up or doing deliveries, plan trips so you are maximizing your time while reducing carbon emissions and air pollution. Don’t make more trips than you need to, and encourage communication between employees and contractors to allow for most efficient use of time and resources.
As you can see from these five tips, going green at home and at the office isn’t as labor intensive as you might think. Planning ahead can add up to big savings for you and your business as well as help the environment. After all, it’s worth the effort isn’t it?