Tips the average worker can apply
- Ask yourself if I need to print this. - Think about how much paper offices use each day for stuff that is printed, then discarded. We could all try to do better in this by asking, "Do I really need to print this document?" If so, try printing it on fewer pages or by printing on both sides of the paper. If it's an internet document, you can use the tool GreenPrint World to preview your document and remoce those pesky last pages with just one line on them or to remove unnecessary images.
- Bring your own utensils, plates, cups, etc. - If your office provides plastic utensils and styrofoam cups, you can cut down on their use and subsequent disposal by bringing your own, reusuable utensils from home. I drink coffee every morning and bring it with me in a stainless steel travel mug. I then use this mug to refill the coffee at work, plus the travel mug keeps it warm.
Tips a business can use, cheaply
- Recycle - Most waste haulers have a recycling program. You can contact them, sign up for it, and then put recycling containers in prominant places such as the lunchroom. Just recycling the aluminum cans and plastic bottles from machines can help. Even better, recycle the paper from the offices and the junk mail.
Remember to always recycle your e-waste so the toxic chemicals in printers, computers, etc. do not enter the landfill. Many places will remove it for you and recycle it for a reasonable fee. Have a collection day a few times a year for broken or non-working electronic items to be brought to a central location for pick-up.
Another easy, free, tip is recycling printer cartridges. Most laser toner cartridges have a mailing or UPS label in the new cartridge so that you can ship the old one back. If not, check the company's website for information on printing a label. HP is very good about doing this and they also have a box you can order to fill with spent ink-jet cartridges and then ship back, all for free
- Buy recycled paper - Most office supply stores sell recycled paper products. Purchasing products made from post-consumer recycled paper helps to prevent new trees from being cut down. The higher the recycled content, the less energy and water used to make the paper and the less waste produced.
- Purchase compostable or biodegradable breakroom supplies - If you aren't able to switch everyone to using their own, reusable utensils, there are more options available each day for purchasing compostable or biodegradable supplies. Sugar-cane plates and hot cups, disposable cutlery made from cornstarch, the list goes on. Just start searching your office supplier's site or catalog for the words "compostable", "biodegradable", or "recycled" to see what they offer and find what works best for your workplace.
These are just a few things I've done where I work, what have you done where you work?
http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/Paper/Recycled/ - facts about recycled paper
http://www.recycled-papers.net/ - recycled paper info
http://www.conservatree.org/ - tips on choosing paper
http://earth911.com/paper/paper-recycling-at-work/ - recycling paper in the workplace
http://www.recyclespot.org/business_tips.asp - starting a recycling program at work
http://planetgreen.discovery.com/work-connect/office-ewaste-recycling.html - e-waste recycling
http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/globalcitizenship/environment/recycling/product-recycling.html - HP recycling information
http://www.b3.net/customer/home.php - Baumgartens, a supplier of compostable utensils and other supplies