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Refreshed start: 8 easy ways to Green-up the Office

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If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to start making a difference, reduce your environmental foot print, make your attitudes and actions true to your conscience, etc., know that you are not alone.

We cannot all be ECO-obsessed but we all have a conscience. Concerning environmental preservation, our collective eco-conscience is growing bigger and bigger these days, and we know that (fortunately) most of us are already changing old habits and adopting a more eco-friendly way of living.

An idea not coupled with action will never get any bigger than the brain cell it occupied. - Arnold Glasow

So if you are one of those people that likes to contribute with small actions to big causes, here are some useful tips for you to easily get back to business with a refreshed, eco-friendly attitude and a greener office!

1.      Create a Mini, yet Smart, Recycling Center in your Office.
Do it in a prominent place: if a complete set of recycling containers would take too much room, put a waste paper recycling box near the printers and a general recycling box in the staffroom. Make sure to empty the recycling boxes regularly.

2.      Use the Real Deal: Glasses, Mugs, Dishes and Cutlery Rather than Disposables
According to an article on IdealBite.com, a popular website which posts and sends e-mail messages to its readers with daily tips about eco-friendly and healthy living,  “Individually, one cup of coffee purchased every day in a disposable container contributes about 22.75 pounds of waste per year.”

Implementing a simple and fun idea like creating a “bring your own mug to the office” campaign can be a successful and important green action in the name of the whole company.

3.      Bring the Outside In: Placing Plants in the Office.
They're not only green and pretty but great for recycling the air and reducing bacteria. Adding plants to your office is something that every employee should want to do. The benefits, both physical and psychological, are evidenced in numerous scientific studies.  In a study conducted in 2010 by the New University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) significant reductions of Tension/Anxiety, Depression/Dejection, Anger/Hostility, and Fatigue were recorded where plants were located in the office. This study shows that just one plant per work space can lift the spirits of staff, and so promote wellbeing and performance.

4.      Display Relevant Info: Don’t Overprint!
Printing one copy of memos and other inter-office documents and displaying it for everyone in the office will significantly reduce paper waste. Make sure you chose the right display for every department and office spaces. A great display spot tends to be outdoor or communal spaces where all employees usually gather to socialize. Every area is good to display and share relevant information if you have the display that fits that space. For spaces outside the building we should use lockable, waterproof, more resistant displays. For manufacturing industrial facilities fire-retardant extra resistant displays with bright yellow frame for higher visibility are the most indicated choice.

5.      Go for Smart Lighting
Replace standard incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED bulbs wherever possible. These use 75% less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs while delivering the same light output. If an office make-over is on the horizon, choose light wall colors; light paint colors and higher gloss sheens reflect daylight, meaning your space will need less overhead lighting.

6.      Reduce On/Off Costs: Save Energy and Money
Check computer settings for standby mode - if computers are unused for periods of time they should be set to go into standby mode within a short time.

Keep computer equipment updated; current models of computers and monitors are more energy efficient. Turn the lights off in rooms when not in use. There is no point in having the lights on in an office staffroom or washroom on all day, so, implementing an office-wide initiative to keep lights off when they leave these rooms will significantly lower electricity use. Many offices opt to install motion sensor lights that shut off after a few minutes without movement.

And, of course, make sure to shut off office lights overnight.

7.      Use and Abuse Whiteboards
Use whiteboards and/or overhead projectors to display meeting agendas rather than printing and distributing them. This type of media has proven to be useful for a variety of tasks — as a peer for individual preparations and thinking over ideas, for conversations to discuss a topic and  as a communication platform during presentations and workshops. Whiteboards are ideal for brainstorming, Kanban, scrum, all kinds of work methodologies, to organize thoughts, plan projects and to use and reuse instead of writing, crossing-out and writing again which wastes a whole lot of paper!

8.      Practice Green Procurement. Use Eco-Friendly Products!
At least make sure that your office is being cleaned using green products that are not damaging the environment. Look for and purchase products that are made from post-consumer content (materials that have been collected back from previous products and remade into new ones) such as paper and plastic products.

Look for and purchase green products such as staple-less staplers and pens that can be refilled rather than sent to a landfill.

Cut down or eliminate your use of products that don’t have green alternatives such as rubber bands.

It is a new year, and we all have made a bunch of resolutions that we feel will make our personal and professional life better. But why just focus on our personal goals when we can focus on enhancing our green thinking attitudes and habits, contributing for a better chance of a sustainable future? We hope providing you with helpful pointers for living an environmentally friendly life, inspires you to refresh your office and start the year with a fresh eco-friendly stance!

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