Going green is fast becoming a way of life for many of us at home but how often do we think of the offices where we work? If you haven’t really given it much thought now’s a good time to start. It’s easy to integrate simple routines into your work day that will help all of us to lessen the impact we have on our Eco-system. Contrary to the popular belief that going green will cost you more, the reality is you usually will save money in the long run. So let’s take a look at 10 simple ways to go green in the office.
1 – Shut down Computers & Printers When Not Being Used
Just about all of us in just about every business now use computers; it has become our central tool. We all too often forget how much energy these machines use and leave them on. Optimize the energy settings on these and other devices can save a lot of energy over the long run. You can set computers to their energy saving settings while using them and shut them down when you leave for the day. Don’t be fooled by the “standby” setting, the unit will continue to draw power in this mode. Don’t forget the printers, same thing, turn them off when leaving but remember to power down ink jet printers because they need to seal the cartridges. Let’s make this easy, put everything you use at your desk on a power strip and just push one button when leaving and your done!
2 – Go Paperless Wherever You Can
Even though we sell Eco-friendly ink and toners for printers we don’t pull any punches and will always give you the best thing you can do for the environment. You should go digital where ever this makes sense for you. There are plenty of ways to go digital now with products like Dropbox (make this a link). By using this product you can save just about everything you used to print and store in a file cabinet in electronic form. Anyone in the world that has access to the product can open the files contained within. Depending on the settings you chose other members of your team can view them, edit them and add or delete files. Using software like this you not only save on paper but also on office space because you greatly reduce the amount of filing cabinets you need. One other piece of software that helps on saving paper is a product called Greenprint (make a link to this)which helps to eliminate blank pages from documents before printing.
3 – Choose a Font That Saves on Ink
Your first reaction may very well be like mine, how much can just changing fonts save me. It can save a ton! A company called Ecofont has a product that can save you up to 50% on printing cost. Ecofont leaves small holes in each font that is not visible to the naked eye thus saving on ink. There is also other options you can choose that saves paper by printing without unnecessary images or printing only small selections from a long email conversation. Saving 50% on any line item cost in your office is a big deal by anyone’s standard. They offer three versions, Home Edition, 3-Pack and Enterprise edition. This is probably the easiest and most cost effective way to save paper, ink, and money in your office.
4 – Use Smart Power strips
The use of Power Strips on all of your equipment will help to curb the “Phantom Load” which can save you a surprising amount on your electric bill. Just shutting off your laser printer when you’re not using it, for example, could save you as much as $120 annually. Imagine if you have a fleet of laser printers and you did this to all of them, the savings can really add up
5 – Electricity Monitor
Go to your local hardware store and get an Electricity Monitor. Some local libraries will even loan you one so you can see where the energy hogs are in your office. Again for just a few dollars you could very easily save hundreds every year.
6 – Switch to LED Light Bulbs
This is an obvious one but it’s so important it belongs in the top 10 ways to green your office. Change those light bulbs to the new LED light bulbs. They give the same light for less than one-quarter of the electricity and can last for up to 20 years. Yes they do cost more than a standard light bulb but how long do they last? This one is really a no brainer.
7 – Buy less stuff!
Reduce, re-use and recycle. This is a tough one for many of us but by buying less we are helping to lower our carbon foot print. All the products we buy have to be manufactured somewhere and where there is manufacturing you can bet there is some form of pollution going on.
8 – Avoid Unnecessary Printing
Only print what you absolutely need to. If you really take a look at what you are printing you may be surprised at how much you print a week and then toss the printed material in the trash. Any web page or document can be saved to your computer or in one of many cloud based services.
9 –Choose Eco-friendly office supplies
Before buying office supplies the next time take a few minutes and see if there is an alternative that you can buy that is Eco-friendly. There still seems to be a misconception out there that if you go green it will cost more, that is not always the case.
10 – Repair Your Computers
Repairing your computers is a great way to go green and save you a ton of money. Our generation seems fixated on always having to buy the newest and the fastest. It’s amazing the upgrades that can be installed on computers to being them back to better than new condition and run faster to in many cases for much less than it would cost you to buy new.
We truly hope some of these suggestions will get you going on the path to a greener office and as always we would love to hear from you on how you have taken steps to go green in your office. The way I look at it if we all share our ideas it makes it easier for all of us.
As promised in my last post “The Day The Printer Died” I said I would give you some ideas on how you can start to go paperless in your office. It really is a great time to go paperless whether you are working out of your home office or have a small to medium sized business office. Let’s face it, printing has become a real chore what with having to buy the supplies, the maintenance of the printers and finally having to file & store all of that paper.
Did you know that Frederick Wilfrid Lancaster envisioned a “paperless society” way back in 1978, he even wrote a book on it, “Toward Paperless Information Systems” (make this a link). Well as we all know it’s not here yet but hopefully some of these tips will help you get started. But thanks to paperless technologies it just may be possible in the near future. It does clear clutter in your business but it also saves you money and is a great way for you to reduce you carbon footprint.
Let’s start with some of the Productivity Apps out there.
Ok, so you’ve gone completely paperless, or so you thought. How about when you, one of your employees or your bookkeeper needs to have a document with a signature on it? At these times you find yourself pressing the CTRL+P button to print, sign and then scan or fax the signed document to the proper entity.
This is where Hello Sign (make this a link) comes in. It lets you sign documents through your web Browser or mobile device without printing, scanning or faxing. It’s totally secure and the electronic signature is legally binding and even accepted by the IRS, can you believe that?
If your anything like me I have receipts, business cards and notes all over the place, on my desk, in my pockets and of course in my car. So of course one of the first steps in going paperless is getting rid of existing piles of paper. The Fujitsu ScanSnap (make this a link) scanner digitizes your paper receipts and anything else you want to save digitally.
What’s really cool about this though is you can connect this to a Shoeboxed Account (make this a link)! Using Shoeboxes will allow you create reports, edit data, label receipts and scan multiple pages at a time.
Why is it people still fax? I don’t get it but until absolutely everyone finally, like finally quits faxing stuff you can bet you will on occasion still have to send or receive a fax.
You can send & receive faxes without paper and without a fax machine. It lets you keep the exact same fax number but switches the entire process to online faxing via email. It allows your customers to still send faxes the old way, while you’ll lead the way with completely paperless faxing.
Using HelloFax (make this a link) the process will no longer be a pain and will be completely paperless!
Save the trip to the printer when you have to share documents with co-workers not only in the same location but literally across the globe if you so desire. With Google Docs (make this a link) which is a free service run through Gmail, you can work simultaneously with colleagues on a document or spreadsheet. The system will even let you “chat” with others viewing the document. One cool feature is it continuously saves so you’ll never lose your work. You have the option of downloading the files if you need to email them or print them God forbid. You can even compare an earlier version of a document at any time. For a free service you really can’t beat Google Docs to help you take one step closer to going paperless.
Paperless Statements and Bill Paying
Many of us still insist on getting our statements thru the mail which makes no sense anymore. Most banks if not all now offer paperless statements and even provide incentives for customers to manage their account online. Pay your bills online and save on paper, checks, envelopes and the time it takes employees to coordinate invoices, checks and mailings. If you’re a merchant you could use an app like Square (make this a link) to accept payments through your smartphone. You can also email receipts for customers instead of printing them
Take Digital Notes
With the wide range and ever growing note taking apps out there why would anyone want to use another Post-it? It makes one wonder if the Post-It note will go the way of the way of the slide rule, their just comes a time when a product has run its course and something else better takes its place. You have text only options such as SimpleNotes (make this a link) to more sophisticated offerings such as EverNote (make this a link) and Microsoft OneNote. Some have touchscreen and stylus support that lets you enrich notes with sketches and diagrams and all notes are saved to the cloud.
Reduce Where You Can’t Eliminate
The unfortunate reality is that we all face situations where paper printouts are unavoidable or we work with partners and clients who require them. When you’re faced with these situations there are still things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. Use duplexing where ever you can, it’s just like using 50% less paper. Find a font that is known to save on ink and set it as you default font, you’d be surprised at how much this can save you in a year. Think about switching to Eco-friendly printer cartridges, these have come a long way from when they first came out. They use the spent cartridges and remanufacturer them to OEM specs, but be away you get what you pay for. You can find fantastic deals on line but it’s the “you get what you pay for” deal. Find a reputable dealer that backs up their product with a rock solid warranty, is easy to contact and has a excellent replacement and return policy.
While the paperless society remains elusive for most of us adopting processes that puts the emphasis on digitization will help us to get closer and closer to the ideal.