Buying green products doesn’t make your office green, you have to implement new systems and change the ways things were done before, with the purpose of making your office green.
A basic place to start is to remove all toxic chemicals and open windows allowing natural light and fresh air into the office. Replace the toxic chemicals with natural cleaning material has a huge impact on the cleanliness of the air. It is also eco-friendly. At home you are the main decision maker in changing your office to a paperless office or not. There are companies, for example Office Depot that helps and assist you to make your office green. They also stock a variety of office supplies that are environment friendly. Start thinking green and take your own bag for the new green supplies you purchase.
Here are some suggestions in making your office green.
Where do you start in converting your office to an eco-friendly office? Begin with something fun, such as decorating. Paint contains VOC, or Volatile Organic Compounds that release smelling gas into the air. With minimum expenses you can repaint your walls with paint that contains low or no VOC. There is a large variety of colors to choose from.
Floors can be replaced with more environment friendly materials, such as cork or bamboo. These products are by far greener than the traditional carpet and hardwoods. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, acknowledges bamboo as a green material. It is harvested in three years compared to an oak tree that needs 120 years to reach maturity. Bamboo requires minimum fertilization and pesticides: it needs very little maintenance. Another advantage of bamboo is its natural resistance to mold, durability and it is biodegradable. You can decorate your floor with a rug created from recycled material. These colorful rugs are produced from recovered textile scraps, and PVC or PET plastics.
The framework of your office is now green, the walls and floors. It is time for interior green décor. Office furniture made from particleboard is inexpensive compared to expensive wood furniture. The initial expenses are low but it is not necessary the cheapest long term outlay. Particleboard doesn’t keep as long as sold wood office furniture does. New particleboard furniture releases gas formaldehyde.
What is an office without its supplies? Green supplies are easily obtainable and a vast variety to choose from. Office supplies include green file folders, envelopes, paper, paper towels, tissues, and boxes for shipping. Read the label when purchasing paper to see the percentage recycled content it contains. There is still paper on the market that contains no recycled content. Next is purchasing the green solar-powered calculators, non-toxic markers, refillable pens, and glue sticks. You can also purchase biodegradable liners for garbage bins that are made from corn.
EPAT, or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool Green, has a list with 51 pointers categorizing and rating computer equipment. After the computer is evaluated as green it is certified. Some of the pointers on the list are:
- Conserving packaging
- Energy conservation is promoted.
- Longevity is promoted.
- Mercury, lead, and other environmentally harmful material is eliminated.
- Minimal post-consumer material is used.
Start green daily behavior by considering the cycle to reduce waste: first reduce, then reuse, then recycle. Compare the 88 million tons garbage that was thrown away in 1960 to more than 245 million tons thrown away in 2005. The culture of discarding something when you don’t want to use it any more has cost the environment heavily. By reducing waste that needs to be thrown into landfills, you are actively supporting green behavior. By going paperless as far as possible is one option of reducing waste.
From reducing you move forward to reusing. Print on both sides of the sheet of paper is one method of reusing. Save paperclips, reuse file folders and rubber bands. Refill ink cartridges and refillable pens instead of buying new ones. Use the packaging that the supplies are delivered in as storage containers.
Set aside recycling containers in high traffic areas. You will be surprised what can be recycled. Ink cartridges, junk mail, cardboard, white paper, and packaging materials are all items to be recycled. It is common practice with ink manufactures to give you credit or a discount when you return the ink cartridge when purchasing a new one.
Ironically air indoors is three time higher in pollution than air outdoors, according to EPA. Two of the worst sources are the paint on your walls and the finishes in your office. Years after applied, it still releases low toxin levels.
Office Electricity and Air
Breathe fresh air by opening windows. It will have a cooling affect as well. It has been proven that natural lighting increases productivity compared to artificial lights. If you tend to have allergies, an open window is not a good idea. Use air purifiers with HEPA, or High Efficiency Particulate Air, instead. Go green with a green plant. The plant is a beautiful addition to the décor and it is a natural air purifier. It sucks from the air the carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and benzene and then it breaks it down to harmless gases or stores it in the roots. The areca palm and the peace lily are two of the most effective natural air purifiers.
Minimizing electricity usage is extremely important when living green. Using natural light decreases the need to use artificial light. Replace light bulbs with incandescent bulbs which are recyclable. Electrical equipment uses electricity when plugged into outlets, even when you are not using it. This phantom power contributes to 10 percent of your electrical bill each month. It is cumbersome to turn off and unplug every electricity appliance each day. The alternative is to buy energy saving power strips that needs only be turned off at the source. Hand-cranked and solar chargers are other alternatives in recharging handheld devices.
What suggestions do you have for having a green lifestyle? What practical applications do you implement?
About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:
At Out of the Office, we are committed to providing earth-friendly administration and offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.
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