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IRVINE, Calif. — There are endless ways to create a greener workplace from using recycled products to installing doubled-paned windows for better insulation. The best way to start is by taking small steps. Here are a few ideas you can work with:
1. Green up your commute. Consider carpooling with two to three other like-minded people or using public transportation. Other alternatives are purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle, or switching from an eight-hour workday, five days a week to a 10-hour workday, four days a week.
2. Go digital. Switch from a fax machine to a fax modem to send and receive paperless documents. Use electronic forms whenever possible, and email letters and documents to be read online rather than printed out. Have staff members take their laptops to team meetings so they aren't printing reams of reports.
3. Read the green print. When printing is unavoidable, use the draft mode on your printer and make double-sided printing your default. The same rules apply to your copier as well. You should also use 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
4. Green your PC. Start by putting computers on "standby" or in "hibernation" mode when they haven't been accessed for more than 10 minutes; turn them completely off when you're finished working for the day. When it's time to replace older desktop computers, switch to a laptop for more efficiency. Not only are they more portable, but they use 80% less energy.
5. Can you see the light? Energy-efficient light bulbs such as compact fluorescent bulbs or LEDs should replace incandescent lighting for cost and energy savings. Just be sure to turn off the lights when leaving the room. Also consider installing occupancy sensors or timers on lights so they automatically turn off when no one is around.
6. Get real. Plants that is. Older buildings and homes may also feature materials that produce harmful pollutants from synthetic carpeting and fabrics, plastic coated wallpaper or laminated countertops. One of the best natural defenses against these contaminants is to make liberal use of live houseplants.
7. Take a break. And when you do, toss the plastic wear and foam cups. Encourage your employees to bring lunch from home in reusable containers. Provide washable china and utensils in your lunchroom, or encourage staffers to bring their own.
8. Perk up. Speaking of coffee, use fair-trade certified, shade-grown coffee in reusable coffee filters. Not only is organic coffee better for you, but the shade-grown beans helps to protect biodiversity of the fragile ecosystems in the countries that grow it, while the reusable filters cut down on waste.
9. Use green marketing tools. Promote your eco-friendly habits in your marketing materials, both internally and externally. "Let your customers, suppliers, and employees know that you are taking active steps to protect and preserve the environment," says business writer Jacquelyn Lynn. "It will build loyalty and enhance your company's image."
10. Don't just think green; wear it. Another change you can personally make is to have a green wardrobe. Purchase clothing with organic fibers such as cotton, silk, wool or hemp, or fabric made from recycled materials.
Source: Entrepreneur Magazine
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