Leave only green footprints: 7 ways to conserve at work

It’s not easy being green, or so we’re told, but take a look around your office and consider: How “green” are you?
It’s no surprise that an increasing number of companies are working toward becoming more environmentally conscious: constantly introducing programs to reduce both costs and their carbon footprint. Typical areas of opportunity are employee telecommuting, lighting, recycling and paper usage.
Here are some suggestions that you might use in your green movement at work:
1. Telecommute to reduce and produce
It could be argued that people working from home face more distractions and are often less productive. In reality, reports indicate that the opposite is true—not only does productivity increase, but there is often reduced stress on the employees. Gone are endless hours sitting in traffic, and the stop-go of a slow car creates a lot more pollution than a car that never leaves the house. And what does it mean to ROI? Well, for the company, approximately $11,000 per year per employee, in addition to the savings made by the employee, and the not-to-be-forgotten oil and greenhouse gas savings. And in case you need to ask, yes—I am sitting at home writing this, and it’s past 5 o’clock. How’s that for productivity?
2. Taper the paper
Here’s a fairly obvious one: use both sides of the paper when printing! Not only are you helping save trees but, from a dollar point of view, you are looking at a 50-percent reduction in paper costs. And don’t throw away those sheets with one blank side. Gather the half-used sheets together, put them back in the printer, and use the blank sides for printing draft copies of documents.
Only print what you actually need at the time—avoid the “I’ll print some spares ones…” attitude; extra copies may become outdated and are then wasted. Mixing paper with regular waste might leave it contaminated and unsuitable for recycling, so leave a dedicated paper recycle bin next to the printer and encourage people to use it.
3. Taking going green literally
You can promote a work atmosphere that’s healthier for mind and body by adding live plants to your workspace. Vegetation such as the Snake Plant needs little maintenance (water once a week) and, along with English Ivy, is extremely good at improving air quality. Gardenia‘s scent is purported to stimulate the brain — and is an attractive addition to the corner of a desk.
4. Equip to save
When purchasing new office equipment, be sure to check the operating costs. Even if a printer can only boast a small savings per page, those savings quickly add up when you consider the lowly printer’s workload.
And don’t skimp on the watercooler. Great tasting filtered water—the water people actually don’t mind drinking—will encourage people to stop wasting money on bottled water, reducing the need for those pervasive plastic bottles. Avoid stocking up on Styrofoam cups, which are particularly bad for the environment.
5. Food for thought…and productivity
Replace the buckets of candy on desks with buckets of organic fruit. The dropping costs of organic food makes healthy eating easier for the budget-conscious, yet still we snack on candy and other sweet goods that always make their way from the home to the office, especially in first weeks of November. Encouraging your staff to eat healthy can also help reduce the overall amount of sick time taken each year.
If you have vendors visit your business every day at lunchtime, talk to them about providing healthy eating alternatives to those always-available fudge brownies, and drop hints about supplying food in environmentally friendly containers.
6. More bins + less waste
Provide bins marked for recycle only. If your office is small, you might consider getting together with other nearby businesses to help with cost-efficient collection. GoDaddy even has bins set aside for batteries; usually thrown away but perfectly recyclable, you’d be surprised how quickly the containers fill when people drop in the odd AA every few days.
7. Encourage more time in the dark
Where possible, replace those energy-sucking light bulbs with more efficient ones. The initial cost might be higher, but long-term you’ll save. You might also swap out the regular light switches for those with the built-in motion sensor that will automatically turn off the lights after a set amount of time. Of course, if you are the type of person who sits motionless in front of the computer for long periods, this might mean you’ll occasionally have to stand and do the Harlem Shake until the lights turn back on. But then, a little exercise doesn’t hurt, once in a while.
Don’t be shy when it comes to spreading the word about your “green-ness.” It’s no surprise that companies actually gain respect for their green efforts, and a caring company is a beautiful thing to work for.
Organic food for thought.
Peter Dillon was transplanted from Wales, UK, about 10 years ago and joined the GoDaddy family in 2010. He lives in Phoenix with his wife and cat, who adopted the couple last year and has allowed them to live with her since. A specialty trainer at GoDaddy, Peter loves education and enjoys being on both sides of the desk—knowing that there is not only always something to learn, but there is always something that can be taught. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.