The following is a guest post by Karen Lee (a.k.a. ecokaren), a mom, chiropractor, wife and blogging greenie. She had a solo practice where she saved money on overhead by using these “green” methods. When she decided to stay home with her children, her green practices followed her. She lives a simple frugal life and blogs to share her tried and true eco-tips, recent eco-news and functional handmade eco-goodies from her shop on Etsy. When she is not blogging, you can find her cooking, sewing, knitting, and dumpster diving, not in any particular order.
Be green and save money in your office
Face it. You are in this mess because you want to make money, right?
My father used to say, “It’s easy to make money. It’s holding on to your money that’s hard.” And he is right. You worked hard to make money; you should hold on to every penny that you earned.
Gross Profit – Cost (and expense) = Net Profit
Looks familiar? It’s a KISS formula that any “Accounting 101” class will teach you. You can have the greatest sales force and your gross profit can skyrocket but if your fixed costs and variable expenses are high, they will eat away at your net profit. So how do you cut down on expenses so you can hold on to your money, especially in these tough economic times? One way of controlling your expense is by going green.
Really? Yeah, really.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Sounds like a recycling company’s tagline? No. This should be your motto if you want to save money.
Find out how you can be eco friendly and save money in your office by following these simple steps. You may do some of these already and if you do, you are smarter than the average bean. Imagine what your expense would be like if you didn’t?
1. Computers: It is estimated that people waste over $1 billion in electricity every year just in computer use!
- Invest in an energy-saving computer, monitor and printer
- Switch to energy-saving settings
- Turn off your computer whenever you’re not using it
- Set it to sleep mode when you are away for short periods of time
- Use laptop during the day as much as possible. Charge the battery at night when electricity rate is lower and use laptop on battery during the day. When battery runs low, the laptop will run in power saving mode. Limit DVD and LCD brightness usage – laptops use the most energy when these two are being used.
2. Paperless office:
The typical office worker uses about 10,000 sheets (20 reams) of paper per year.
A typical office discards almost 350 pounds of paper per employee each year.
About 1 trillion sheets of paper are used for digital printers and copiers in the U.S. each year.
- Keep copies of important emails, files, manuals and more on your computer
- Send company updates through email instead of on paper
- Review any documents online instead of printing them out and if you need to refer to them later, save them as pdf files.
- If you really need to print any files, software, like Greenprint, FinePrint and HP Smart Web Printing can be used to eliminate wasted printed paper.
- Keep company manuals on intranet or a secure website for employees to refer to when needed.
- Use Ta-Da on the desktop and refer to it when needed instead of writing them down on paper. Program your computer or phone for reminders.
- Print on both sides of the paper. Buy a printer that has duplex printing capability.
- Shred old paper to use as packing material
- Save and reuse old boxes
- Use old sheets of paper for scrap paper or note-taking
- Stop extra catalogs or magazines mailed to your office. Use http://mailstopper.tonic.com to discontinue all your junk mail.
- Use online banking and online bill-paying options with your bank, credit card companies, cable and utility providers eliminating paper check writing and keeping paper invoices.
- Use “Rewritable” CD’s and DVD’s instead of single use ones to store documents or memory sticks for larger storage.
You can save…
50% by using duplex (two-sided) copying.
30% a year by installing software that eliminates unnecessary printout pages.
15% by using the Arial Narrow font.
30% of billing related costs by switching to electronic payment and billing services.
40% of overall document-related costs by implementing a digital document management solution.
89% by sending and receiving faxes directly from your computer.
3. Printers: The printer is one of the most-used office items. Every day it cranks out tons of important faxes, emails and other documents. Ink cartridges are not very eco-friendly and can be costly.
- Choose printers and copiers with “auto off” switch.
- Try not to print in color.
- Recycle toner and ink cartridges. You can get some money back when you recycle them at office supply stores.
- Dedicate a copier or printer tray for draft documents. Then fill the tray with paper already printed on one side.
- Only print the selections you need. If you need to print only a paragraph or two of a document, highlight it and use the Print Selection function.
- Use Print Preview and Shrink to Fit Functions. Use the Print Preview feature to ensure that what you are about to print is only what you need and intend to print. Use the Shrink to Fit function to proportionally decrease the font size of text in the document to condense the text sufficiently to eliminate unnecessary text.
- Install a software like greenprint (and others mentioned above) that eliminates unnecessary printout pages
- Make use of PDF formatting and scanners to digitize hard copy data for storage. Printing directly to PDF eliminates the need to print at all.
4. Appliances and Electricity:
- Whenever buying appliances or office machines, buy the ones that are certified “Energy Star” for savings on electricity.
- Invest in a power strip that you can turn ‘on’ and ‘off’ and have all the electrical appliances plugged into it so that at the end of the day, you can turn them all off while not in use.
5. Recycle: There are many things in your office that you can recycle. If you don’t have a recycling station at work, start one on your own! You can get a few bins and post recycling guidelines above them.
- Paper products like copy paper, envelopes, magazines, etc. – you can use the blank sides, and recycle the rest
- Cardboard boxes from shipped supplies – reuse as much as you can for your own shipping and recycle the rest.
- Soda cans and plastic bottles – this creates a corporate culture that says, “be responsible” and “do the right thing”
- Ink cartridges – most office supply stores now take back ink cartridges and give you discounts when you purchase new ones – saving you money. Or, donate them for charity (i.e recycle4charity.org (http://www.recycle4charity.org)
6. Commuting: The first part of your workday starts with you getting to work, and for many people that means driving. Cars emit tons of carbon dioxide gases into the air, contributing to global warming. And the wear and tear on the car can be costly.
- Join a car pool – it’s not just for kids anymore. It will save wear and tear on your car, reduce mileage, gas money, carbon emission and stress from driving in traffic.
- Take the train, bus or subway – you can go over the documents for that important morning meeting or get extra snooze.
- Ride a bike or walk if you live close enough – you’ll be energized by the time you get to the office. Who needs caffeine?
- Invest in a green car like a hybrid – saving you oodles of gas money.
- Reduce your travel by working from home whenever possible – technology makes it so much easier to telecommute. It’s great for mommies (or daddies) like us.
7. Green Your Desk … Literally
Get a plant and place it on or near your desk. Or, even better, buy plants for all of your office mates. They will not only see this as a friendly gesture, but they’ll also have cleaner air to breathe! Plants absorb indoor air pollution and increase the flow of oxygen, so indoor sickness or sick building syndrome will not be an issue. Employee absenteeism will go down and productivity will go up while cutting healthcare cost down.
8. Food for Thought: Everyone looks forward to a lunch break. If you manage to save money by not going out to eat every day, then you probably pack your lunch. But what’s more, eating healthy will improve productivity and prevent you from getting sick too.
- If you are a business owner, don’t provide paper products or Styrofoam coffee cups in the employee lounge. Have your employees bring their own coffee cups and mugs. Install a one cup at a time coffee machines and buy refillable cartridges that each employee can fill with coffee grounds you provide. This cuts down on plastic waste and saves you money.
- Pack your lunch in a reusable lunch bag or box
- Use silverware that can be washed and used again instead of disposable plastic flatware
- Drink from the water fountain or a water filtration system instead of bringing water bottles. If you are a business owner, install a filtered water fountain or have filtered water coolers like the Zero Water system. Discourage employees from bringing plastic water bottles.
- Recycle your soda cans, bottles and aluminum foil
- Use a washable napkin instead of paper towels
9. Spread the Word: Green practice is huge in marketing. If you implement these steps, not only will you be saving money but you can also use green practices as your marketing tool. Greenwashing is a corporate dirty word but if you are a true believer in the green movement and follow its tenets, you will be recognized as a responsible business owner all the while saving money. The best way to stay involved in the green scene at work is to get others involved. Share your practices and wisdom with your boss and coworkers.
- If you are an employee, encouraging your office to join or start a recycling program
- If you are a business owner, purchasing company carbon credits
Your work environment has a profound affect on your personal and professional happiness. If you enjoy how greening your life makes you feel, then there’s no better place to keep the tradition alive than at work! And what’s more, it will save you money!