Make a difference
in your workplace!
can be hard to get back into the swing of things at work after the cheer
of the holiday season. But we have some tips that might help get your
creative juices flowing again during the dark, cold weeks of winter.
You can become a new office hero by suggesting ways for your employer
to save money while helping out the planet.
In today's tough economy, every penny saved can help keep folks employed.
Plus, it can't hurt your reputation in the boardroom if you are the
one to show your boss how he or she can trim expenses.
Businesses use a tremendous amount of water, energy, paper and other
products, and reducing waste saves money, as well as valuable resources.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
1. Turn the Heat Down
Office spaces and other places of work require enormous amounts of energy
to maintain an even temperature, whether it's the heating or cooling
season doing the work. While this can be a tricky subject among coworkers,
who may have different body types, metabolisms, expectations and preferences
for temperature, by talking things through you may be able to encourage
your building manager to set a more eco-friendly temperature. He or
she may not know that the air around your desk feels like a summer night
in Alabama, even if it's snowing outside. Or perhaps your team can agree
to try out lowering the thermostat by just a few degrees, and avoid
wearing short sleeves for a while. The savings can be substantial, especially
if you suggest that temperature is lowered at night, or other times
when few folks will be present.
2. Suggest Energy-Efficient Lighting
You've probably heard that you can save money by switching to fluorescent
lighting. But maybe no one at your office got the green memo. Also,
are there times when you can raise blinds and turn down the lights?
Does everyone remember to shut off unneeded lights when they leave at
3. Turn Off Those Computers!
If your office is like many others, people leave their computers on
all the time, even when they aren't using them! However, you can tell
your boss that every worker who shuts his or her machine down before
heading out each night saves an average of $90 worth of electricity
a year. That adds up! The Department of Energy recommends shutting off
your monitor if you aren't going to use it for more than 20 minutes,
and the whole system if you're not going to use it for more than two
hours. The agency says time spent off extends your machine’s life—tell
that to the IT guys!
4. Just Say “No” to Water Bottles
A lot of companies provide employees and clients with bottled water.
That's a nice thought, but carting around all those plastic bottles
isn't doing the environment any favors. Suggest a cheaper filter system
instead. You'll even have a talking point to impress those clients when
they need a little refreshment.
5. Encourage Car Pooling and Biking
Ask around and see if some of your coworkers might be interested in
doing some car pooling. Not only can everyone save on gas, but you'll
also reduce emissions and build camaraderie among your team. Point out
to your bosses that the company can save on maintenance and security
of parking lots, and in a number of areas may qualify for valuable incentives
from city governments. Does your company have a bulletin board, either
virtual or the kind with actual thumbtacks? Ask your boss if you can
post a sign-up sheet for those who might be interested in participating.
Similarly, does your work place have bike racks? Those who bike to work
also tend to be healthier, and more fit employees are sick less often
and require less health care. Aren't you smart for thinking of that?
6. Save on Printing
As anyone who has ever owned an inkjet or laser printer knows, replacement
cartridges are mighty pricey, and soon eclipse the original cost of
the device. You can save your company a pile of cash if you help encourage
people to print black and white as much as possible, to use draft settings,
and to only print when needed. For draft copies recommend that people
print on both sides (it's easy!), and definitely suggest that your company
recycle if they don't already!
7. Provide Reusable Mugs and Dishes
Put out ceramic mugs and plates instead of paper or Styrofoam and people
will use them. Tell people to clean up after themselves, and they'll
also develop a greater sense of pride in their surroundings, instead
of just tossing things away after a single use.
8. Green the Chow Hall
If your company has a cafeteria, suggest that it also provide reusable
utensils, and minimize packaging. Suggest that food buyers look for
local and seasonal ingredients, as well as plenty of meatless options,
which are greener and generally cheaper.
9. Invest in Some Plants
If you had success with the proceeding steps, we salute you! If you're
feeling a little ambitious, you might try suggesting that your company
provide a few house plants, which help clean the air, leading to more
comfortable, and productive, employees. Plants also can improve the
mood of employees and guests. At the least, ask that your boss consider
reversing a ban on plants, if you work in one of the unfortunate places
with such a strict policy.