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8 Ways to Be Environmentally Friendly Around the Office

by Rebecca DeZeeuw

Below are eight ways to be environmentally friendly around the office:

1. Reuse lunchware. Bring your lunch in reusable containers. Bring reusable forks, knives and spoons. This reduces the amount of unnecessary items that end up in the trash. Instead of using plastic bags for your lunch, use a food storage container and lunchbox instead. Consider bringing your own set of forks, knives and spoons instead of using non-reusable ones. If you go out for lunch, bring your containers to store your to-go or leftover food.

2. Know your trash. Make sure you know what goes in the trash can and what goes in the recycle bin. Things that go in the trash include plastic bags (better yet, recycle at your local grocery store) and stretch wrap, egg cartons, Styrofoam take out containers or drinking cups, soiled food containers and paper products, broken or sharp glass, fast food packaging and plastic utensils. Things that go in the recycle bin include plastic bottles or containers, cardboard boxes, books, magazines, mail, paper, newspaper, tin, aluminum, steel cans and glass.

3. Power off. Be sure to power off your computer and monitor(s) before you leave for the day. This takes only three seconds and will save a lot of electricity over time. Leaving a computer running overnight increases unnecessary electricity use. Electricity is produced by burning fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels increases toxins in the air and worsens global warming. If everyone turned off their computers before they left for the night, we could significantly reduce the amount of fossil fuels used.

4. Reuse that cup. Bring a cup if you go out for lunch or coffee so you don’t have to use a non-reusable cup.

5. Use paper towels sparingly. Try to use only one or no paper towels after using the bathroom. This reduces the amount that ends up in the landfill. Here’s a Ted Talk by R.P. Joe Smith about how to use only one paper towel after washing your hands: https://youtu.be/2FMBSblpcrc

6. Be conscious when using paper. Does it need to be written down or can it be typed out on your computer instead? Rather than making a mental note on a piece of paper, add a reminder to your phone or computer. However, some situations are inescapable, and you will have to use paper. Just make the conscious decision to write less down on paper if you can.

7. Check before printing. Make sure your printer is set to your desired setting before printing. Avoidable mistakes can lead to using up a lot of paper.

8. Carpool to work. If you already do, try inviting one more coworker who might live nearby. If that is not an option, consider public transport, walking, biking or roller-skating to work. One less car on the road due to carpooling has multiple benefits on the environment. First, there is less carbon and other toxic gases emitting into the air. This increases air, water and land quality, decreasing the risk of diseases. Carpooling reduces the number of cars on the road, which reduces the amount of traffic, making your trip to work a little less crowded.

This blog was written by Emma Marciak, emerging professional.