Friday, November 16, 2007

Reducing Your Carbon Footprints - Going Green At Work.

With many of us spending a major chunk of our time at work, the office is another area besides our home where simple changes to the way we work can result in drastic reduction in the amount of resources and energy being consumed plus the additional benefit of saving money.

With offices being major producers of paper, printing and electronic waste, adopting environmental friendly practices like recycling and waste reduction, can have a tremendous and beneficial impact on our environment. With an estimated 3.8 million acres of U.S. forests cleared every year to meet Americans demand for wood pulp, implementing paper waste reduction practices for example, can drastically reduce the need for large scale deforestation. Refurbishing and reusing computers and other electronic products will also go a long way in reducing the ever growing amount of hard-to-dispose and hazardous electronic waste.

Here are some green tips that you can easily adopt in your office and contribute to a better environment :

1. Go paperless where possible
- Think before you print and print only when you really need to. Read documents off the screen and store them online. Post employee instructions, manuals and other similiar materials online rather than distributing hard copies.
- Use a fax-modem to reduce paper usage as it allows documents to be sent directly from a computer without the need for a printed hard copy.

2. Print smarter
- Print on both sides of paper or recycle old documents for printing on one side.
- Avoid color printing and print in draft mode whenever possible.
- Buy chlorine-free paper as products bleached with chlorine leached harmful by-products like dioxins into the environment.
- Choose a lighter stock of paper, which uses less paper fibre, and consider alternatives made from bamboo, hemp, organic cotton or kenaf.
- Consider buying copier paper produced from farmed trees as paper produced from farmed trees which are grown and replaced, have minimal environmental impact.

3. Recycle
- Recycle toner and ink cartridges and buy re-manufactured ones. Companies like Dell and Hewlett-Packard have schemes to take back used printing cartridges from their customers for recycling.
- Recycle everything that your company collects including fax paper, junk mail and catalogs and check if your suppliers take back packaging for re-use.
- Place recycling bins in accessible, high-traffic areas and provide clear information about what can and cannot be recycled.

4. Improve computer efficiency
- Turn off your computer at the end of the day. Leaving it on overnight increases energy consumption by more than 50 per cent, increases mechanical stress and reduces its lifespan.
- Turn off the monitor when not in use and setting your computer to "sleep" mode during breaks reduces energy consumption by as much as 60 per cent.
- Invest in energy-saving electronic products for e.g switching to LCD monitors as they use half the energy of old, bulky CRT ones.
- Refurbish and reuse old computers or donate them to organizations that will refurbish and find them new homes.

5. Save electricity
- Turn off the lights, air-conditioners and other apliances when leaving a room. Utilize natural light whenever you can.
- Use energy-rated light bulbs and fixtures, which use at least two-thirds less energy than regular lighting, and install timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they're not needed.

6. Improve communication efficiency
- Reduce the amount of traveling by investing in video-conferencing and other technological solutions.
- Make it a habit to commute by train, bus or subway whenever possible instead of a rental car when traveling on business.

7. Create a healthy office environment.
- Brighten up your workplace with plants which absorbs indoor pollution.
- Use non-toxic cleaning products.
- Buy furniture and carpeting and use paint that are free of volatile organic compounds that will not leach toxic chemicals.

*Related post :
- Going green at home.
- Calculating your carbon footprints.

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