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Green Your Office, 7 Ways

green office Green Your Office, 7 Ways

Five billion pounds of chemicals are used annually for institutional cleaning. The good news is that the risk of injury from chemicals and environmental damage can be dramatically reduced by replacing the most dangerous cleaning products with safer ones.

  • Opt for solutions that are non-toxic, non-VOC (volatile organic compound), water-based, biodegradable, phosphate-, chlorine- and ammonia-free and those with ingredients derived from renewable resources, not petroleum.
  • Buy in concentrate and bulk so that shipping and packaging waste is reduced.

Breathe Easy

Here’s what the air in any office setting can potentially contain: ozone generated by photocopiers, dust, allergens, outdoor fumes brought in by the central air conditioning; gaseous chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted from furniture, paint and carpeting. And then there’s the stuff dragged in on our shoes: oil, antifreeze, particulate pollution, pollen, etc. All combine to create unsafe air quality and contribute to Sick Building Syndrome. What can you do to clean up the air in your workplace?

  • Look for low VOC alternatives in carpets, adhesives, paints, even furniture.
  • Help keep what’s on the sidewalk out with quality doormats or entryway track-off systems. Remember, less dirt also means less sweeping, mopping and vacuuming, which means less work, water, energy and fewer chemicals.

Use and Re-use

Reusing products delays or avoids altogether their entry into the waste stream, so think refillable, rechargeable, not disposable, whenever possible.

  • Challenge your associates to think of ways to give new life to used items, for instance, shredded waste paper makes great packing material.
  • Set up an area to store and exchange reusable office supplies such as binders.

If you can’t reuse a product, there are usually others who can. Go to www.kab.org (Keep America Beautiful) for suggestions on exchange programs and other reuse strategies.

Sitting Pretty

Making environmentally savvy choices in office furniture is getting easier and easier. Whether a piece of furniture is made from wood, cloth, metal or plastic, there are earth-friendly options.

  • Opt for modular office suites. These component-based systems let you reconfigure workspaces and mix and match as your needs change, helping to eliminate the need to buy new.
  • Use flexible interior features, such as movable walls to help reduce waste associated with renovations.
  • Don’t overlook the fact that, even if it’s initially more expensive, buying quality furniture that’s durable and can be readily repaired could easily save money in the long run, plus, lessen the chance that it’ll end up in the landfill.

Digitize to Maximize

Did you know that one 2GB flash drive can store up to 20 yards of books? Storing data digitally frees up space, time and money. It minimizes clutter and helps eliminate unnecessary paper waste. Plus, transferring data digitally or transporting digital storage devices is infinitely easier and less costly than transporting files, cabinets and furniture, should your office be moving to a new locale.

Paper 101

How do you choose paper that is good for the environment and meets your needs? Some things to keep in mind:

  • First things first, when looking to make an environmentally responsible paper purchase, you’re looking for more than the recycled symbol.
  • Post-Consumer Waste Content (PCW): The single most important factor to consider is the percentage of post-consumer waste content. Paper with post-consumer content contains recycled fiber from paper which has already been used by the consumer and then collected for recycling. The higher the level of post-consumer content the better.

Today, more and more products are available with post-consumer recycled content including: file pocket portfolios, hanging file folders, report covers, various storage boxes, file holders, file covers and three-ring binders. By using recycled post-consumer content paper, we save trees, water and prevent the air and water pollution, soil erosion and destruction of wildlife habitats associated with harvesting.

Recycle. Recycle. Recycle.

You already know this, so it’s just a reminder that everything from empty ink and toner cartridges (a single cartridge thrown into landfill can take up to 450 years to decompose) to office paper (115 billion sheets of paper are used annually for personal computers) to plastic bottles (Americans use 3.3 million plastic bottles every hour, but recycle only one in five) is RECYCLABLE. 79 million tons: that’s the amount of waste material diverted away from disposal through recycling and composting in one year.

Five billion pounds of chemicals are used annually for institutional cleaning. The good news is that the risk of injury from chemicals and environmental damage can be dramatically reduced by replacing the most dangerous cleaning products with safer ones.

  • Opt for solutions that are non-toxic, non-VOC (volatile organic compound), water-based, biodegradable, phosphate-, chlorine- and ammonia-free and those with ingredients derived from renewable resources, not petroleum.
  • Buy in concentrate and bulk so that shipping and packaging waste is reduced.

0 Responses to Green Your Office, 7 Ways

  1. Shannon says:

    What about the heating system? I know it gets cold in the offices because they have the air set to a certain temperature. Consider switching to bioheat. It’s made of biodegradable every-day products like corn and avocado. It’s also non-toxic, so you don’t have to worry about all of those fumes lingering around.

    I work for NORA, which is how I know all of this. For more info you should really check out
    http://oilheatamerica.com/index.mv?screen=bioheat.

  2. Desk Gal says:

    Good point about buying office furniture that is durable and high quality. We often hear from people who are getting rid of their inexpensive office furniture because it did not hold up. They are ready to go with a desk that will last.

  3. chris says:

    Buying quality furniture that’s durable and can be readily repaired could easily save money in the long run, plus, lessen the chance that it’ll end up in the landfill.