Thursday, May 29, 2008

Top 10 Ways to NOT Screw the Earth at Work

Single-sided printers are a major eco-office complaint.
Single-sided printers are a major eco-office complaint.
Photo: George Doyle / Getty Images

Sure, work might be the most boring part of your life — perhaps you routinely count the seconds until each workday is over and dread coming in the following day. But so long as you're there, why not do your best to not screw up the environment?

Here are 10 ways anyone can get started:

10. Use energy-efficient lighting

Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. Both CFLs and LEDs give off less heat than incandescents, plus they last longer. Even Fidel has made sure every Cuban office is using more efficient lights. If you haven't already, it's time to make the switch!

9. Get rid of water bottles

We've known about it for years, but never done a thing. Millions of plastic water bottles are being thrown away daily, and removing them from the office will help! Try using tap water, refilling old bottles, or even buying a water purification device. You can also purchase reusable beverage containers such as Nalgene (soon to be bisphenol A free) or Sigg.

8. Advocate your company's switch to renewable energy sources

Over 70 percent of electricity in the United States is generated through the use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. Try being the voice that gets your company to switch to cleaner, renewable sources — talk to your boss, start a petition or, if need be, refuse to wear clothing at work until your company gets its act together.

You might lose your job in the process, but at least you'll make your point. For a practical guide on switching to green energy, check out the World Resources Institute's "Switching to Green: A renewable energy guide for office and retail companies."

7. Join a carpool

The average automobile burns over 12 liters of gasoline in just one hour. Whether you're going to the same office, or just the same neighborhood, carpooling makes a heck of a lot of sense. It's not only easy on the wallet (particularly in light of current insane gas prices), but will reduce harmful CO2 and fossil fuel emissions. Sites like are cool if you're looking for potential carpool companions.

6. Power off your computer

Instead of putting your computer in sleep mode when you leave for an extended period of time, go ahead and shut the puppy off. Believe it or not, powering off completely can save up to 10 times the energy. And if you want to be a hero (and potentially piss of your co-workers), make sure their computers are also turned off after they've gone home for the evening. A word to the wise, however: first make sure everything is saved.

5. Use a laptop

On average, a laptop uses 10% less energy than a standard PC. Plus, if you're accustomed to spending a long time in the bathroom (after lunch, for example) you can multitask by bringing in your laptop — just be sure you don't drop it in the toilet.

4. Keep a keg under your desk

Not sure how it helps the environment, but it sure would make work a lot more fun!

3. Recharge your batteries

Offices use tons of batteries to power things like calculators and hand-held massage devices (at least my office does). When possible, buy rechargeable batteries — so they can be used time and time again and ultimately, create less waste. According to rechargeable battery makers Uniross, rechargeable batteries have 32 times less impact on the environment and use less than 1/23rd the natural resources of their disposable counterparts.

2. Turn off the AC and wear lighter-weight fabrics

Although the thermostat is usually governed by committee, turning off the AC is a quick and easy way to reduce your carbon footprint in the office. If your co-workers aren't happy to accommodate by wearing lighter clothing, you can either a) insulate heat by drawing blinds and curtains (roughly 40% of unwanted heat comes through windows) or b) lay an old-fashioned guilt trip on them (e.g., "You're single-handedly killing Mother Nature, Sally! How do you sleep at night?!")

1. Use paper wisely

This is the big one. Start printing documents double-sided, save scrap paper to jot notes on, and of course, recycle whenever possible. On the more novel side of things, those offices that still use paper time cards (a huge waste of paper!) should consider going electronic with a company like T-sheets. As a general rule of thumb, if you can move paper correspondence online, then go for it.

Original here

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