7 Ways to Go Green in the Office

Mar 04, 2014Reading Time: 4 min

“Going green” has become a common thing—not just in the world of double skim lattes and hipsters, but as a means for businesses to spend less money while doing the right thing.

Luckily, it’s simple to integrate practices within your company that have a positive impact on the Earth and your budget. From recycling ink and paper to purchasing supplies in bulk, these ways to go green in the office will help you cut wasteful spending and wasteful wasting.

Buy in bulk. Purchasing supplies in bulk will consistently save you money. The reason is twofold—you save on freight costs by buying less frequently and spend less per item because of common volume discount policies. Retailers like Newegg and Quill allow businesses lower costs per unit if they purchase in large amounts. If you plan on staying in business for a while, it’s always cost-effective to buy office supplies once a month instead of on a per week basis in smaller orders.

Choose remanufactured toners/ink. “Remanufactured” is another word for recycled. Printer cartridges are sent to a manufacturer that will refill the ink and repair any damaged parts. A quality control test is then performed to see if the toner cartridge is up to standard. You can save between 15 to 50 percent per order and preserve natural resources while keeping wasteful metals and plastics out of landfills. Walgreens and Office Depot and OfficeMax offer refilling services. When you’ve decided to buy new cartridges, you can take your old cartridges to a recycling station for another eco-friendly person to purchase.

Use less ink. In addition to recycling your cartridges, you can use less ink by changing your printer settings to “black ink” or “fast-draft.” Prints that don’t require high quality settings can easily be changed to these settings, or you can choose “draft” or “econo.” It makes sense to also change the font type (some fonts require less ink—Century Gothic, for example) and size. The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, in fact, uses this tactic as a means to save money, according to an article by NPR.  

Recycled paper works equally well. There was a time when recycled paper was of lower quality than newly minted paper. But with hefty developments in the industrial process of deinking paper fibers, there has come a new and improved paper recycling process. The Energy Information Administration suggests a 40% reduction in energy when paper is recycled, and considering the fact that 35% of municipal waste is paper and paper products, it’s certainly the environmentally friendly alternative. Since businesses and schools typically require large supplies of paper, recycled paper could add some additional “green credibility” to organizations. Staples and Office Depot and Office Max are two major companies that sell recycled paper, but there are very many others—smaller stores—that specialize purely in sustainable printing.

Buy Energy Star certified appliances and electronics. From the copy room to the kitchen, successful power management can significantly cut the costs of office products like computers, copiers, fax machines, printers, and water coolers. In 2007, Energy Star released new specifications raising the bar on what constitutes a star-qualified office product. Office and imaging products that have the star use 30% to 70% less electricity than standard equipment.

Turn off the power strip. If you have a power strip connecting several machines at once, it will save you money by turning off the strip at the end of the day. Standby power consumes potentially 75% of electricity that is used to power office equipment. One flip of the switch is perhaps the simplest way to beat the energy vampire.

Set up a recycling station. Nearly everyone assumes the moral imperative to toss recyclable items into the right can. If you don’t have a recycling station at your office, you lose the opportunity to give employees that feel-good feeling after going green—and it may save your company money.