Green office way to Go
By Shingirai Chitsike
OUR everyday practices in our workplace are among factors that can affect our environments in more or less negative ways – depending on our choices and decisions.
Have we ever considered whether we really need to overheat the office? Maybe we could fix our heaters two degrees lower and take on an extra sweeter, instead of the pleasure of getting around in t-shirts at the expense of the resources and emissions that extra heating takes?
But it is also a factor whose impact can be alleviated through conscious minimising of office consumables use, on the one hand, and putting efforts to getting our waste recycled, on the other.
Do any of us ever consider whether we really need to go to the other end of the city to settle a minor issue? Maybe a phone call or an e-mail message would do?
Again, do we really need to drive separately to our workplaces? Maybe we could share rides or simply walk or bike to our offices? Any means for minimising your office-related transportation not only saves your money but also contributes to saving our planet.
The phrase “Green Office” refers to the mentality and practices that help to reduce the environmental impact of our office activities and make a real difference.
A special portfolio of services intended for those who wish to put a green office policy to practice and protect the environment, should be put in place.The policy should offer recommendations on how to transform the workplace into a more environmentally friendly place.
Green Office Tips
- Purchase recycled paper products. But don’t stop there – make sure you use both sides of printer and copier paper as much as possible.
- And don’t forget to recycle paper. Why not place recycling bins throughout your work area? In fact, make it easy to recycle and harder to put paper in the trash by replacing a few trash cans with recycling bins. Be sure to place recycle bins near your colleagues’ work stations, the printer and the copier.
- Got unused stationery with last decade’s company logo on it lying around? Use it for scratch paper. Use it for document drafts (instead of the “new” recycled paper you’ve purchased). Use it for tonight’s grocery list. Just use it!
- Speaking of paper, why not go without as much as possible? Instead of printing out e-mail messages, file them in Outlook or another e-mail system. File the attachments on your hard drive or on a shared drive. Convert an e-mailed invoice to a PDF. Print any documents only if absolutely necessary.
- There’s more being recycled than just paper today. Why not look into purchasing recycled toner cartridges, or purchase a used printer or computer?
- If you must buy new, look for printers, computers, scanners and their ilk that are Energy Star-certified. An Energy Star computer, for example, can be 50 percent more efficient than your standard unit.
- Get rid of the fax machine entirely. Use an Internet fax service instead. And when you receive a fax via an online fax service, remember – save the e-mail and the fax on your hard drive. Print it only if absolutely necessary.
- Replace any incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. Yes, CFLs are more expensive. But they last as much as 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb. Over the long run, your office supply budget will thank you.
- Turn off the lights in unused offices and when going home at night. And don’t forget the coffee pot/machine. Unplug them – even appliances turned “off” use juice from the electric grid.
ShingiraiChitsike is senior consultant at Exalt Consulting in Harare.