by Cara Lumen
You know the saying “pretty is as pretty does”? Well, “green is as green does.” The planet is cared for one person at a time. So I looked around my office to see if it was a green as I could get it.
Print on both sides of paper
This is such a simply one and I really fussed about doing it. “How can I tell which side is which when it’s all my stuff?” “It confuses me. I want things to be neat.” I gave that one up. I use binders a lot and so if I punch the holes in the right side I’m always looking at the side of the page I need to see.
Don’t print a lot
There are so few things I really need to print out. I have three pieces of paper I continually update and keep printed out by my desk – my family phone numbers (which I could program into my phone or look up on my computer) my most frequently used passwords (again, they are on my printer but I use this paper a lot), a calendar of my own making upon which I color my scheduled events. The only other things I print out are sometimes teleclass scripts (although I usually read those off the monitor) or notes for a radio interview (which actually go better if I don’t look at my notes). I take notes on my computer while I am coaching my clients or listening to a teleclass, and my “to do” list is always open on my computer. There is no need to print. Besides, when it’s on my computer I can edit it, underline it bold it color it, move it forward– whatever it takes to call it to my attention in the future. Next time you start to print something ask yourself if it is really necessary.
Get email fax
We don’t need to print out those faxes, we just need to have them as record and since email faxes come as a PDF we can print them out if we do want to. This eliminates paper usage and the need for a separate machine cluttering up your office and using electricity.
Buy recycled paper
It may be a bit more expensive but I’m also not using very much paper any more so recycled works for me. And since I print on both sides I get even more value from each sheet.
Turn off electronics not in use
Anything that is plugged in, whether it is turned on or not, is pulling electricity. I have two surge protectors. One I willing turn off at night because it holds my lamp and speaker system and printers. The other has my modem and computer so I have a choice about whether to turn that off or not.
Keep temperatures down and wear warm clothes
Let’s face it, sitting at a computer doesn’t keep the blood flowing and your feet warm from natural activity. I have a colorful shawl I put around my shoulders if I get cold sitting at my computer and a soft blanket for my knees. And I now have a wonderful collection of colored thermal shirts for the winter and I live in California! Wearing layered clothes allows you to adjust to your own body temperature.
Can your lunch scraps go in with the yard waste?
They can in my city. So the leftovers from your lunch (if you don’t have a dog) can go in with the yard waste to decompose. I keep a special lidded container on my kitchen counter and use it instead of the disposal. It is for organic waste, not meat products. Check with your local waste management company and if they don’t do it, suggest it!
Make one shopping trip a week
This isn’t for everyone but working out of a home office means I don’t have to go out much. But when I do I make certain I get everything done that needs doing. Bank, groceries, etc. all in one trip. And I keep my car tuned and its tires inflated. It happens to be a 95 Honda Civic which has gotten 30 mpg all its life and for my purposes has only reached a healthy middle age.
Green is in the small things
I don’t know if buying a refillable pen counts but it eliminates my throwing away a used up stick pen. I’m using pencils a lot and like them for my calendar and for note taking. I have a lot of left over index cards that I will never use so I now keep them on my desk in an easy-to-grab place to take notes on. Once one side is handled I mark a line through it and turn it over ready for more notes. I cleaned out my office and emptied a lot of binders. All of that paper is waiting to be recycled. I have at least 18 inches waiting its turn. I keep plants in my office – for my health and for my pleasure. My recycle waste basket is within arm’s reach and makes a regular trip out to the curb in my paper recycle container. On the one day a week I water my flowers, I catch the water that is lost as I wait for my shower to warm up and use it for that purpose. I’m not yet willing to haul water from upstairs to down in order to recycle water on the rest of the week but I’m aware of it as a possibility. What are you willing to do? What one or two things can you do in your office today that will make it a shade greener?
© 2008 Cara Lumen