How Green is your Office

When people think ‘green’ they tend to refer to their home environment and how they apply sustainable principles there. By taking eco friendly practices out of the home and by using them in all the places we interact with, we can decrease our effect on climate change and create a more environmentally aware atmosphere for everyone.

There is a great range of earth friendly gadgets we can use in our work day around the office that are green, great to look at and that are low cost and high efficiency. Here are a few to consider:

REUSABLE HOT CUPS

Coffee is the liquid of life in any office. Keeping it hot and ready to drink often involves a highly processed paper cup and a microwave – both may be good for recycle / low energy value, but the best alternative is a reusable coffee cup.

Ceramic coffee cups with no spill lids are insulated to keep your coffee hot and your hand cool for long periods of time, AND make sure you don’t short out your keyboard when it tips over. There are many other reusable coffee cups that have designs and pictures on them. There is even one that puts a photo from your iPhone on it when it gets hot and the heat provides the energy! It’s a case of you being cool while your coffee is kept hot!

NON STICKY STICKY NOTES

The two biggest consumables used in an office are pens – and sticky notes. The problem with sticky notes is that they do not come in a recycled paper variety and are over used in most offices.

Consider using the software on your computer which came with such features as ‘notepad’, or your calendar to write reminders, or you can purchase a virtual sticky note software that allows you to post the notes for everyone to see and remove as they are acted upon. You could also use your cell phone to store messages and set reminders so your phone tells you when you need to act. A sticky note will never be able to do that.

A non toxic dry erase board made of recycled or sustainable material placed somewhere where it can easily be seen, such as over the kitchen sink can also be a great alternative to sticky notes.

If you’re marking a place with a sticky note – try using a paper clip. When you are finished you can reuse the paper clip and start all over again. The ultimate in recycling!

LONG LIVE THE PEN!

Long life pens are readily available, as are biodegradable pens – some are both! Look for pens that guarantee a long life so that you are not buying so many and make them biodegradable so you don’t have to worry about throwing them away when they finally run out of ink. Another thing to consider is using pens that have refills and don’t need throwing away at all.

There are pens that are made up of recycled plastic cups with long life ink barrels that are a great option for economical green friendly writing, and can be biodegradable too.

PAPER

There are so many alternative paper products out in office supply land that you are spoiled for choice. IF you HAVE to use paper, always know the recycled content of the paper you are using, or try not to use paper at all. Email, text or call for a more sustainable way of conveying a message, or try alternative papers that use a high bamboo, lint, fibers or rock content that are all highly sustainable.

WATER CARRIERS

Not only can your coffee cups be green and reusable, your water carriers can be too. Environmentally friendly reusable water bottles are readily available in a myriad of materials and designs that suit your lifestyle. They can also be insulated and larger than plastic cups, so you can spend more time round the water cooler catching up on what is going on in the rest of the office day after day and still have the best looking water bottle in the whole building.

LUNCH BOXES

The eco movement has included lunch boxes in its revamp, and lunch boxes have never been so cool. Plastic has a negative carbon footprint and is known to contribute to global warming, but there are ergonomically designed recycled plastic lunch boxes that are fantastic to look at and functional, as well as ones made out of silicone that is much more environmentally friendly. Even the humble recycled paper bag is a sustainable and earth friendly option for carrying your lunch.

GREEN GADGETS

Other green office gadgets include solar powered chargers, low energy power cables and light bulbs, a recycled material option for office supplies and thermostats to remotely or automatically control the temperature when the office is closed. Most of them have a great individual style, are space saving and cost less to operate so are an earth friendly win all round.

SUSTAINABLE FURNITURE

Many suppliers are catching on to the green revolution and providing sustainable options in their range of products. Sustainable furniture can be made from recycled material, natural products, easily renewable sources or can be produced in an eco friendly way. Look for the certifications on the items you are buying, but also consider buying them locally to cut down on pollution; buying a more durable solution that will not need replacing so quickly or choosing those that use less resources in design or production.

Running a green office is a great way to have a positive impact on the environment and to make sure you work somewhere healthy and sustainable. You can also have fun with all the earth friendly products now available and the sure knowledge you are being kind to the planet. You never know, you may even set the trend.

Like what we’re doing? Want to share your story or tell others? Do you have a green business in Calgary and want to get in front of a large local audience? Let’s build a green community together!