9 Ways To Be Green & Save Money At The Office

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 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!


Dr. Karen S. Lee

Holistic Practitioner at Dr. Karen S. Lee
Dr. Karen Lee is a retired Chiropractor, publisher of drkarenslee.com, and co-founder & partner of Green Sisterhood. She believes being a mom made her into a better doctor, researcher, and advocate for 'wholistic' health. She consults clients on clean living using holistic approach, everything from foods they eat to environment they live in.

When she’s not consulting clients or writing about health, she’s developing healthy recipes for her family or cuddling up with her lapdog with a book.

Latest posts by Dr. Karen S. Lee (see all)




  1. Kristin Neudorfer

    Great post, I keep a stack of scratch paper from printed materials i don’t need anymore so not to keep using and wasting paper if its not for presentations. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Maura

    Excellent post Karen!

    And thanks for the ecofont link- hadn’t seen it before but it looks great. I don’t print much stuff but will try this out on business cards.
    .-= Maura´s last blog ..Symmetry in Bloom Hemp and Cotton top – Small =-.

  3. karen

    Amy: You know, computer age suppose to make our office, “paperless” but do you find that to be totally untrue with all the documents we are printing now? But hopefully, using these tips can make it little bit more “paperless”.

    Maura: Of course, it’s always better NOT to print but when you have to, like business cards, you do have choices in the font style and the resolution. The jury is still out on ecofont on some aspects – like it does take up more space than Arial BUT it does use less ink (20% less because of all the holes). But then, some argue, you can print in grey color scale to get the same effect. (You know there’s always the other side of the coin) So the bottom line is, use what you can to save paper and ink. Just don’t use the font styles that use up too much ink and too much paper space. Thanks for your comment!
    .-= karen´s last blog ..My guest post on The Mogul Mom on saving money while being green =-.

  4. Amy

    I really like the paperless office ideas! Checking out the HP Smart Web Printing.

    Awesome article!
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..Heads up: Price Changes Coming for Sew-In Labels =-.

  5. Ros

    Wow… there’s sooo many ways to save. Thanks for the tips. We recently condensed our catalog from a 12 page/one sided print to a 3 page/2 sided print (booklet form). This alone is a HUGE savings for us.

    • Karen


      How awesome!
      Imagine how much money you save on paper! That is great!


  6. Heather Allard


    Great post! Another way that I save paper (and time!) is to print 2 pages on each side of the paper so it looks like a book. You can do that easily when you click Print–then select Preferences > Finishing > Pages Per Sheet.


  7. Kim Quinn

    Very informative!!! I am at work right now & I’m going to email my biz partner a link to this. Thanks!!! -Kim

    • karen


      That’s great! The more people know bout being green and saving money, the better!
      So glad you liked the tips!


  8. karen

    So glad you mentioned the font style making a difference. Believe it or not, I used to love Comic Sans but then, I looked at how much space it took up on a page. So I changed it to Arial Narrow. It’s still not as small as Garamond (I love that style) but my eyes sight is not as good as it used to be so I have to settle for Arial Narrow.

    But I did find this funky font called, ecofont, that uses up 20% less ink. You can download it from here http://www.ecofont.com/look_at_ecofont_en.html
    .-= karen´s last blog ..Fabulous Friday Featured Seller – DinnerTimeChimes =-.

    • Heather Allard

      That’s awesome, Karen. Thanks for sharing the font with us!

      And–thanks for writing such a killer post! Yay! 🙂


    • Heather Allard

      Thanks for taking the time to research which fonts help you conserve ink! Awesome.



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