Sometimes you can’t just wait for someone else to take the initiative. Sometimes you have to get up and put out the recycling bins yourself.
If you want to start a recycling movement in your office, start by gauging how others will receive the movement. Though it is important that they see you standing up to do it, you don’t want them seeing it as only because it is “the thing to do because everyone says so.” Figure out everyone’s stance on it, and go from there. Find out who are like minded with you, and see about getting them to help. Learn where the closest recycling centers are. Do they come by and pick up the recyclables, or will you need to take it to them? Do they charge a fee? Many stores offer recycling programs, so you just have to take a look around and see what is available.
Talk to the authorities in the office, and see if they would be open to having recycling bins placed around the area. Start with something simple. Do you use a lot of paper? See about a bin for paper. Do your coworkers throw away several soda cans during the course of the week? Go that route; start with one thing, and work your way up. If you are lucky, other coworkers will be enthusiastic and start wondering about recycling plastic bottles, glass, paper, and aluminum.
In order for this to work, though, you (and your like-minded coworkers) may have to volunteer to remove the recyclables weekly. However, this will be a small price to pay if the recycling movement takes hold. Even if other coworkers are not interested in taking a huge part of the recycling movement, if it is just as easy- if not easier- for them to recycle an item rather than trash it, you will soon see recycling taking a larger part of the office life. Consider placing recycling bins closer to the offices than the nearest trashcan. Offer to sort plastics from aluminum cans if they do the recycling. Or, if your nearest recycling center offers it, you may have the incentive of earning a few bucks going to the company or privileged employee if they recycle enough of the designated product.
Recycling is an important part of reducing landfill waste. In addition to that, when items are recycled, the cost of the products made from recycled goods goes down. Raw goods are needed in smaller quantities, helping to save you money. Not to mention, it is relatively easy to set up three small bins that contain paper, plastic, or aluminum. Though it may take some practice in order to remember to throw the pop can in with the aluminums and not with the trash, it is a good step accompanied by a pleasant feeling of having done some small part to help out your community and the environment as a whole. The more recycling that takes place, the less unpleasant hills of landfills you have to look at while traveling out of town.
Another step you can take to help reduce the amount of trash going in the dumpster is to start a compost pile if you have the space. This not only replenishes dirt so that you can grow pretty flowers, a berry bush, or other plants, but it also provides a way to get rid of those eggshells, dead flowers, rotted vegetables, and the sandwich you forgot you had in the fridge. It does not have to be a complete loss. Also consider buying such items in smaller quantities. Are you really going to use that nifty thing-a-ma-bobber? Or is it going to be found in the trash can during the next spring cleaning? Save money by holding off on such purchases, along side of helping reduce the trash produced in the average week.
Regardless of whether you succeed in starting a recycling movement in your office, you can always do this at home. Even if you only take out the recyclables every couple of weeks, or even if you have to travel a couple of extra miles to have the items recycled, it greatly reduces the amount of trash you see in the landfill. This is also a great way to see just how much you and your family do consume over the course of time. Challenge children to realize just how much of that sweet soda they have been drinking, or challenge your coworkers to seeing just how many needless e-mails they print off in the course of a week. Not only is this an eye-opener, but it also helps people to see just how much trash is really going into the dumpster, and how much of that can be reused. Recycling allows you to see just how much is really there, rather than it being a mindless task done on a regular schedule.
The environment is an important part of our lives. It creates the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the place we live in. Though it has been contested back and forth how much of a part humans play in shaping their environment, it is clear that the more waste we put in a landfill or the more pollution we add to the air, the more we negatively impact both our health and the health of our plants, animals, and waterways. If you want a place that is enjoyable to live in for generations to come, there are a number of small things you can do that will help out the environment. If you and other people do your part to create as little waste as possible, the less you will be adding to the landfills, and there will be more room for nature or for living.
One of the ways you can reduce waste going into landfills is to try not to print items when viewing them on your computer unless it is absolutely necessary. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s web site, more than a third of recycled items in the United States were paper in the year 2006. Nearly 85 million tons of paper is used in the USA every year. Considering that only 44 million tons of paper was recycled, there is still a large quantity of paper items that are being thrown away and added to landfills.
Aside from remembering to recycle paper when possible, the best way to reduce paper consumption is not to print the paper at all. If you’re using your computer and want to print an email, a document, or something from the internet, ask yourself first if you really NEED to. If not, don’t do it, and prevent some paper from ending up in a landfill.
When it comes to purchasing books, there are many electronic readers now available, and ebooks are considerably cheaper for the consumer to buy and for a publisher to produce. Also with ebooks, multiple copies can be retained, allowing you to have a backup that you might not otherwise have. Many ebooks can be stored on one electronic reader, so it makes carrying these books hassle free, particularly if you often travel.
Another way to save paper is to print double-sided. If you are printing off sheets to review an essay, report, chart, or other piece, then you can print on both sides of the page without worrying about someone else seeing it in presentation. This also saves considerable amounts of money, as a one hundred page report is suddenly only fifty pages of review. If possible, do as much editing on your monitor as you can. Do spell checks and a preliminary overview before actually printing off anything. This prevents the cost of multiple drafts being printed, though it is understandable that at some point you are likely to need to print off a copy to catch what the eye cannot see on a screen.
If you need a backup of your work, there is more than one way to approach this. While it may be nice to have a hard copy in paper and ink, it may not need to be in complete formal presentation, allowing you to print on both sides of a page and cut out large chunks of empty space. Other paperless options include putting it on a CD or DVD and clearly labeling it, or placing it on an external hard drive. Because these allow you to back up more than one paper at a time, it will save you considerable space in filing and archiving.
Lastly, there are some items that just don’t need to be printed. As mentioned above, not every e-mail needs to be printed. You can forward notes to coworkers, and save e-mails in a separate Word document when you get an important one. Have a favorites list of recipes you found on the internet and bring your laptop to the kitchen. This way you aren’t sorting through an infinite list of dog-eared pages just to find that one chocolate chip cookie recipe. Consider using digital photo frames rather than huge print collections. For scratch paper, use junk mail and the envelopes they came in, or use the back of your kids’ coloring sheets. There’s no need to go out and buy Post-It Notes or use a full sheet of blank paper; just look around and you are sure to find something you can write on when necessary.
Though there will be times when you still need to print various items or when you still have the stubborn coworker or boss who wants the printed page, you can greatly reduce your amount of paper consumption. Ask yourself – do you really need that in printed form? Or will it do to read it on a monitor? Though it may not be much, every little bit you do helps the environment, and the more people who do little things, the greater the benefit to the planet.
One way to boost business is by showing your local community that you care. When you go green, you are not only helping the environment, but you also save space, time, and energy. In order to cut down on air pollution, consuming less energy results in less coal being used to fuel power plants, as well as less demand, more supply, and cheaper prices in the end. Recycling lowers the amount of trash going to landfills and brings down the cost of goods that would normally use more raw materials if recycled options weren’t available. And overall, going green can give everyone in your business a sense of pride of having done something, however small, to help out the world. Even the little things count, because if everyone does something little, at the end of the day a major accomplishment has been achieved.
Of course, if you don’t actually own the business, it may be trickier getting new initiatives set in place. But for the things you do have control over, every little thing counts.
On the larger scale of things, switching to more energy efficient lights, typically CFLs, can not only reduce your energy bill, but also the cost of purchasing new bulbs. They last longer and have a lower actual wattage than incandescent lamps, while still retaining the same level of brightness. Be prepared for a color shift, however, as CFLs are generally in the range of daylight lighting rather than the yellow, warm lighting of incandescents. Motion sensors are another way to reduce the cost of energy when it comes to lighting. When a section of the building, be it a cubicle, hallway, or restroom, is unoccupied, motion sensors leave the lighting off unless someone present is detected.
However, if you can’t actually change out the light bulbs or install a motion sensor strip, you can still make sure your computer gets turned off when not in use. If you have a personal desk lamp in an individual office room, you can use that instead of the overhead light so that you can save energy. Who knows? By example, you may be able to convince other coworkers to do the same.
If you have your own individual printer or if you are in charge of the printers of your workplace, look for ones that allow you to print on both sides of the paper. If they are automatically able to print double-sided, this can save both time and money spent on paper and ink. Also look for printers that use environmentally friendly ink, and recycle your ink cartridges. Some businesses will pay you for your cartridges, so consider this before throwing out the cartridge.
Don’t just recycle ink cartridges. Plastic, aluminum, and paper are in predominant need of being recycled. Set up smaller, separate bins in your office space to have for easy recycling, or talk to the management about having recycling bins placed in easy reach. You may want to offer to take turns taking the recyclables to the recycling center, or finding a place willing to pick them up from you. Beyond that, you can cut down the amount of recyclables. Get a sturdy water bottle to cut down on plastic containers and save money instead of buying expensive bottled water. When it comes to paper items coming in at home, ask to have your bank statements and bills online, and search for companies that help get your name off of pesky junk mail lists. Only print off important e-mails, and back up your Word document files to CD or DVD rather than printing out huge stacks of paper. Not only does this save paper, it also saves space. Scan other important documents, then recycle the paper (shredding if needed). Use online forums and private web sites to transfer files and make it easy for other coworkers to review your work.
There are many ways to go green at work, so consider these ten steps:
1. Use energy-efficient lights.
2. Turn off unnecessary electric appliances when not in use. Unplugging them will save even more energy.
3. Take personal steps to start with, then show coworkers and management how they have helped with efficiency and the environment.
4. Make it easy to recycle. Offer to take out the recyclables, or put up separate bins in your office.
5. Recycle ink cartridges. Some businesses pay money or store credit for these.
6. Look for environmentally friendly printers. Double-sided printing is a major plus.
7. Save Word files to CDs and scan in other papers. This saves your paper money and office space.
8. Use fewer individually wrapped products. Say no to bottled water and hello to filtered water in a sturdy bottle.
9. Have bank statements posted online. Get off of junk mail lists.
10. Make documents easy for coworkers to see via private online web sites; this saves paper and time searching through stacks of documents.
If you want to save money and help the environment, one of the primary ways of doing this is switching to energy-efficient lighting. Compact fluorescent lights, commonly known as CFLs, are quickly becoming popular as the way to save energy. They are cooler than their incandescent cousins, use less wattage for the same amount of light, and have a color temperature rated often at daylight. This means that they are cooler in appearance than the warmer color of incandescents. They do not have a noticeable flicker, like that of older fluorescent lights, and their start up time has become relatively quick. On the downside, they do contain certain amounts of mercury, and should be disposed of carefully and in accordance with your local laws. However, because they last longer than an incandescent lamp would typically last, CFLs do not need to be replaced as often, making the downside less of a problem.
CFLs can be used both in the home and in the office. If you are considering outfitting old office lighting fixtures with new energy-efficient choices, it could save you a considerable portion of money, thereby turning expenses into profit. However, simply switching to new, energy efficient lighting is not the only way to save money through cutting back on energy consumption. If there are well-lit portions of offices due to large windows or skylights, you may wish to leave those lights turned off during the day. If there is a block of offices or a hall or corridor that sees relatively little use, consider installing motion sensors that will trigger the lights only when someone is actually present. This also helps prevent people from accidently leaving the lights on. Of course, turning the lights off when not in use will help save money.
The same sorts of tips go for home use. You might consider a timer, something that switches certain lights on only when it is dark enough to actually need them. Rather than using a ceiling light to light up an entire room, consider a small desk lamp to light up a single task. Not only will it save energy, but your sleeping spouse in the next room is sure to appreciate it. Depending on the type of lights you are using, dimming the lights may not actually help save energy. However, if you find a certain room is more pleasant with dimmer lights, consider installing dimmable CFLs, or choosing a lower wattage of light bulb. A large amount of energy is lost as heat from light bulbs, so a lower wattage light bulb at full strength will save you more money than a higher wattage light bulb at half strength.
Replacing old lighting fixtures with new energy efficient choices, along with doing what you can to conserve energy, is important for a number of reasons. Not only does it save you money, but it allows more power to be available for others to use. The more power that is available, or the higher the supply, the lower the costs of getting that power will be, meaning savings for you in two ways – less energy consumption and cheaper energy consumption. Also consider that where power plants use coal, it depletes a natural resource. As natural resources become scarce, prices go up, and with coal, pollution can be a problem. Though initiatives have been put in place for cleaner air, this does not always help in large cities or industry centers, where smog is a typical problem. By using less energy, you help cut down on air pollution, making the air you breathe fresher and your morning view a more beautiful sight.
Other ways you can cut down on energy is to not only turn off electric appliances when they are not in use, but to unplug them. Some appliances, such as TVs and microwaves, will continue pulling energy in order to power the clock. TVs that have automatic recording timers or other devices may pull even more energy so that they can actually activate that timer. Computers and laptops, even in sleep mode, put off heat, meaning that they are draining energy- or if it has a battery that is charging, some energy is being pulled even if the laptop is off. Therefore, it is important to consider what appliances need to be turned off all the time. In some cases, though, the opposite is true. It may be helpful, depending on the model, to leave an air conditioner running continuously, so that less power is put into constantly re-cooling the room after it heats up again. However, this does depend on the type of air conditioner you are using.
To conserve gas, you may want to consider heating one room with firewood, if you have a fireplace, and having the entire family gather there, rather than heating up the entire house. Or choose to wear sweaters instead of short sleeved shirts. There are many options that help you save energy, help the environment, and save money at the same time.
Though it might sound strange at first, you can start a compost pile directly in your office. Known as worm bins, these compost piles produce fertile soil as well as giving you an environmentally friendly way to reduce your food waste. This is primarily used for foods such as coffee grounds, tea bags, fruits, and vegetables, along with breads and grains, but not so much for dairy products and meats. And yes, these can easily be added to your office or workplace without too much trouble.
A worm bin can either be purchased already made from various vendors, or you can make your own. Your bin should not be see-through. For every half pound of food waste you produce, you will want one pound of worms. Note, however, that not all worms work well in worm bins. Red worms tend to compost food waste the quickest, and you can either purchase them from a supplier, or place moistened cardboard in your lawn overnight and see what worms show up to munch on it in the morning. You will likely want to start off with a two foot by two foot, or three foot by three foot, bin. It does not need to be particularly deep, as the worms only live in the top few inches of soil. To start it off, cut strips of newspaper up, and moisten the strips with de-chlorinated water. This can be obtained by letting regular water sit open for a couple of days. There should only be a few drops of water coming off of the newspaper when gently squeezed. This is the bedding, and you will want to place this at the bottom of your bin. This is where you will bury the food waste (so as to avoid fruit flies showing up). It can help to put a little partially composted garden soil over this, to add to the microorganisms that will be doing the composting. Then place a piece of cardboard over the soil. Make sure there are air holes in the top of the bin, and you may want to consider drainage holes at the bottom of the bin. There are ways to have two bins set up so that you can transfer the worms when you want to harvest their compost, so you may wish to research that.
Put the worm bin in a place with a temperature between fifty-five and eighty degrees Fahrenheit, in order to have the most productive worms. Avoid places with vibrations, such as a laundry room or by a dishwasher. Be sure that it is easy to access, so that you can easily deposit food wastes and make sure conditions are still good for the worms.
As odd as it may sound at first, this is a great way to go green at work. You can start a worm bin in your office, and you may even start a trend! If you enjoy gardening, or know someone who would enjoy the extra compost, this is a great way to get started. This may also be a good way to convince your boss to let you have a pet in the office- worms!
There are many other ways to help out the environment, both in the office and at home. A worm bin is just the beginning. You could also set up recycling bins so people will have an environmentally-friendly way of disposing of soda cans, paper, plastic bottles, and more. See if there’s a recycling pick up at your place of employment, or set up a system where employees can take turns on who takes the recycling to a nearby collection center weekly. You can also get people to recycle ink cartridges, or use a single, sturdy bottle instead of pricey bottled water. Consider reducing the amount of paper you use by scanning current documents to be filed onto CDs, saving Word documents on CDs, and communicating with coworkers about your recent papers through private online forums. Check to see if you can switch over to energy efficient light bulbs, or help show how the company can save money by saving energy.
Lead by example, and when other employees or colleagues start picking up some of your environmentally friendly habits, you may be able to get a group together who can help transform the entire workplace into a green environment, and not just your office.
A worm bin is a great and creative way to start going green, and it does not need to be just something to keep at home. Your office is a good way to get the word out about helping the environment- especially when curious coworkers start wondering what it is you are keeping in the box beside your desk. Start a worm bin in your office, seriously!