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Give your office an eco-boost

Updated: Feb 24, 2012 11:31 AM EST
It takes less than a second to toss something into a recycling bin, and it makes a big difference. (©Martin Poole/ Stockbyte/Thinkstock) It takes less than a second to toss something into a recycling bin, and it makes a big difference. (©Martin Poole/ Stockbyte/Thinkstock)


By Dana Courtney
From Green Goes Simple

Most days, working from home feels like a luxury: I can choose my own hours and wear pajamas to the office. But when I recently stopped to consider how green my workspace was -- or wasn't -- I realized that I couldn't blame the boss for my questionable eco-habits. Offices use lots of resources, from paper products to electrical power, and my mini setup is no different.

I think about the environment when I'm not working -- recycling in the kitchen, using cold water when doing laundry and reusing household items whenever possible -- so I made a commitment to add conservation to my professional to-do list as well.

To get a jump-start on my greenovation, I consulted Jodi Helmer, a green-living expert and the author of The Green Year: 365 Small Things You Can Do to Make a Big Difference. "Most of us spend the majority of our time at work," Helmer says. "If we ignore our offices and only spend time making green improvements to our homes, we're doing the environment an incredible disservice."

Whether your take your coffee breaks in your living room or in the corporate kitchen, here are some steps to add eco-awareness to your professional life:

Recycle
You've heard it before: Recycling is one of the easiest and most effective ways to go green. "If we truly recycled all possible materials, we would reduce the amount of landfill waste by 75 percent," Helmer says. "Place a recycle bin beside your desk and use it for all documents, old mail and memos. It takes less than a second to toss something in, and it makes a big difference."

Think Before You Print
Before printing a document, ask yourself if it can be filed electronically instead. If printing is necessary, Helmer recommends changing the margins to .75ʺ, so you can fit more content on less paper. Also extend the lifespan of old printed documents by using them as notepaper later on.

Unplug
Even in a small office, turning off all computers at the end of the day saves significant energy -- and money on the company's energy bill. The same goes for lights in conference rooms and other unoccupied spaces. During office hours, turning off the screensaver or switching your computer to sleep mode when you're not at your desk is another easy way to cut down on energy usage.

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