10 Ways to Green-ify Your Office
What choices can we make as individuals that take less of a toll on our environment, and save us money at the same time? At CEE, some staff spend a little extra time thinking about these questions. Members of the CEE Green Team are committed to helping the organization live its mission through sustainability education and initiatives.
We would like to share some of the tips and tricks they compiled for the office, in the hope that you might be able to apply some of them in your workplaces.
1. Reduce your plug load
A “plug load” is all the electricity being used by things plugged into an outlet. You can reduce your plug load by turning off devices like monitors when you leave the office, or even while you’re on coffee breaks. You can also adjust your monitor’s brightness and enable power management settings to put your computer to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity.
2. “Turn Off Lights Behind You!” — a.k.a. TOLBY
TOLBY® is an energy efficiency firefly who wants to remind you that you should turn off the lights in empty rooms — the last one to leave a meeting can flip the switch. You can put up signs at your workplace on or near switches to remind people to hit the lights. Explore our work in youth energy education to learn more about TOLBY.
More things can be recycled that you think, and a lot of them show up in an office! Avoid creating unnecessary waste by making sure papers, cardboard, and glass all get into the recycling bin. Check your city or county website for municipal guidelines on what can and cannot be recycled.
4. Group clean-up
Every year CEE staff get together for a neighborhood clean-up on Earth Day. Getting together with your team to pick up trash contributes to your community and is a great employee-bonding activity.
Organics recycling is the first step in creating compost from natural materials, and will help your office minimize waste from food, used paper products, and compostable containers. Check with your city or county for full guidelines on what is compostable and what is not.
6. Print responsibly
Think before you print! Can you get by with a digital copy? Consider printing only the sections of documents you need, and make sure to print two-sided whenever possible — you can adjust your printer settings to do this automatically. And of course, recycle papers when you’re done with them.
7. Reusable dishes & cloth napkins
If your office kitchen doesn’t already have reusable dishes, consider getting some! Staff can use the dishes on their lunch breaks instead of creating unnecessary waste with paper plates and plastic utensils. Similarly, using a stack of cloth towels and napkins will reduce the paper product waste in your kitchen.
8. Bike to work
Biking is not only a fun form of physical activity, but also an emissions-free method of transportation. If you aren’t sure, ask your officemates where there is a safe place to store your bike during work hours.
9. Public transit
Biking or walking isn’t an option for everyone, but public transit — especially in the Twin Cities — is another great option to get to work if your office is near a bus or train route. Ask your employer if they provide or subsidize transit passes.
If other methods of transportation don’t work for you, consider connecting with coworkers to see who lives nearby you. Carpooling not only cuts down on car emissions, but enables you to take the carpool lane — cutting down on long lines of cars waiting to get on the freeway.
We hope this short list provides you with some new ideas for green office life. Not everyone will be able to adjust their habits and lifestyle to eliminate all waste and emissions, but each of us can take small steps here and there that will make a huge collective difference.
There are so many more ways to eliminate waste, go green, and inspire conversation around lessening environmental impact — take this list as a jumping off point and get creative with your own ideas!
CEE’s Green Team
This list was compiled with input from all CEE Green Team members, with notable contributions from Brady Steigauf, Jamie Johnson, Dana Thorgrimson-Smith, Marisa Bayer, Rabi Vandergon, Eric Larsen, Stephanie Shimota, Katie Jones, and Emma Appleman.
Youth Energy Education — TOLBY® Program
Hennepin County Green Disposal Guide
City of Minneapolis Acceptable Organics Guide