8 ways to go green in the office

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As an environmentalist I’m always looking for ways to live more sustainably, and the way I run my home office is no exception.

With environmental issues now a recurring theme in the headlines, small business owners are regularly reminded of the importance of adopting environmentally-friendly habits. Not only is this good for the planet, it can even save us money. And who doesn’t want that?

Here are some easy-to-implement tips to help you work greener:

1. Go paperless

Now that we’re well into the digital age we have a number of options for storing electronic documents at our disposal. With the availability of removable hard drives and the cloud, it’s no longer necessary to keep paper records for most things. And it takes up less space!

2. Print on both sides

If you do need to make a hard copy, print on both sides of the paper. Most people only print on one side and it’s such a waste. Printing on both sides not only saves trees, but will save you money in the long run because your paper will go further. Plus, if you work to reduce the amount you print, your ink will last longer too. Win-win.

3. Refillable printer cartridges

There are many schemes available that allow you to recycle old printer cartridges. However, although this means your printer cartridge is being recycled and not sitting in landfill somewhere, it’s still producing waste. You can now buy refillable printer cartridges and ink bottles so you can refill them yourself.

4. Switch off at the wall

Turning off your devices isn’t enough as they still use power while they’re switched off. Leaving them switch on at the wall is a drain; don’t waste power or your money.

5. Plants

Take being green to a new level; plants are a great way to improve indoor air quality and bring a touch of nature into your office. Studies show they can also help reduce stress in the workplace. Cacti, spider plants and snake plants are all low-maintenance plants that won’t die if you look at them funny (or forget to water them for a while). Get one for your office, or two, or three – go nuts!

6. Ditch your ballpoint pen

Like many of us, you probably have a drawer full of ballpoint pens you’ve picked up at networking events. Once they run out, most of these aren’t refillable and end up in landfill. Consider swapping to pencils or fountain pens. Fountain pens are usually sold with one or two cartridges in the pack. Buy yourself a bottle of ink and a syringe; when your cartridge is empty, refill it yourself using the syringe. The ink will last you so long that it could be years before you need to buy a new bottle. Resist the urge to pick up that free pen next time; it’s the environment that pays the price.

7. Emails

How many mailing lists are you subscribed to and how many do you actually read? How many times have you sent a ‘thank you’ email or ‘have a good weekend’ or ‘did you see this’? Every email sent uses electricity. OVO energy found that if every Brit sent one less thank you email a day we would save 16,433 tonnes of carbon a year – the same as 81,152 flights to Madrid. Try to reduce your email carbon footprint.

8. De-clutter

Many studies show that working in an uncluttered space improves productivity, not to mention your mental health and wellbeing. Clutter is a distraction and affects your concentration. With many of us working from home, it’s more important than ever to clear your workspace. Anything you don’t need, give to a charity shop or sell locally so someone else can make use of it.

Creating a green working environment doesn’t have to be difficult or cost a lot of money. Let’s do our part by adapting our offices to become greener spaces. Small changes can make a massive difference – be the change you want to see.

Raakhee Stratton is a member of the team and runs her own eco blog at www.easypeasygreeny.co.uk

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