Environmental awareness has been steadily growing for years, and it's now hit the workplace in a big way. Employers are reckoning the costs of the energy and resources they use. They're aiming to appeal to workers for whom thinking green is a way of life. And they're finding that being environmentally friendly is a big advantage with customers. Here are some practical ways (via the TreeHugger website, treehugger.com) to make your team and workplace green:
Reduce your energy use. Take advantage of the energy-saving settings on your computers and equipment, and remember to actually shut them down at the end of the day. Unplug machines that you don't use all the time, or connect them to a power strip with an on/off switch. Look at timers or motion sensors to automatically turn off lights in unused spaces. Invest in new energy-saving LED light fixtures and compact fluorescent bulbs.
Go digital. After several false starts, it's now possible for many of us to truly avoid using paper for most of our daily work. Get in the habit of sending, sharing and reviewing documents electronically; almost all common office software will let you "print" to digital formats such as PDF. And instead of automatically printing out copies for your files, invest in an inexpensive external hard drive and back up your files digitally. When you do use paper, make a habit of double-sided printing; use scrap paper for notes. (Turning stacks of scrap paper into actual notepads is cheap and easy.) Or use your shredded waste paper to pack boxes.
Flex your schedules. Adjusting your schedules can help people avoid wasting gas and polluting the air while stuck in rush-hour traffic. It can also make it easier for them to commute by foot, bike, public transit or carpool, or to work from home. A non-traditional work schedule can also reduce your enterprise's energy use during peak periods, such as hot summer afternoons or cold winter mornings. You can either shift your hours or look into ways to compress your workweeks. Also look at ways to avoid having on-site meetings or requiring business travel.
Relax your dress code. You don't have to let people be sloppy. But there is an environmental cost in maintaining a separate wardrobe of business attire that needs to be dry cleaned and isn't appropriate to the climate. Comfortable, clean and neat "regular" work clothes can reduce your team's environmental footprint.
Buy reusable and recycled items in bulk. This goes for everything from lunches and snacks to major equipment. Replace foam cups and paper plates and towels with real, washable dishes and cloth napkins. Buy recycled printer and toner cartridges in quantity to reduce shipping and packaging costs. Look for refurbished electronic equipment and office furnishings that use recycled materials.