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Even if you don’t own your business, you can do a lot to make your workplace “greener.” Just think about how you would change things at home to accomplish the same thing, and do it at work, too.

Here are three easy ways to translate what you know about green living into green working.

1.  Energy efficiency is just as important at work as it is at home. You might not be the one who pays your company’s electric bill, but there’s plenty you can do to help lower it. A few wasteful habits that you can break today:

  • Turn off lights when you leave the room.
  • Unplug computers and office equipment when you go home for the day; they keep using electricity even when you turn them off if you leave them plugged in. Pick up a power strip that you can plug everything into, and you’ll only have to unplug one thing at the end of the day.
  • Unplug your cell phone charger as soon as your phone is charged. And consider replacing it with an Energy Star model, which uses up to 35 percent less energy than other kinds. 
  • Replace the incandescent light bulb in your desk lamp with a compact fluorescent light bulb, which uses about 75 percent less energy. Better yet, invest in a model with an integrated LED, light-emitting diode. You’ll never have to change a light bulb in it, and it will be 10 times more energy-efficient than your old incandescent.
  • Shade your windows. Keep the curtains or blinds closed all day on sunny day so sunrays and heat won’t pound through the windows. When the weather cools off a bit, open the blinds to let the sun’s warmth in.
  • Replace your old office equipment when it wears out, everything from computers to printers to water coolers, with energy-efficient models that qualify for the Energy Star label.

2. Recycle, and not just your paper and printer cartridges. You can donate everything from coffee makers to decade-old computers to nonprofits that will either refurbish them for resale or pass them along to recyclers who reuse the metal. Same goes for the still-usable office furniture. And it works both ways: When it’s time to redecorate or reorganize, buy second-hand, salvaged or leftover items from a store like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, which collects new and used products, fixes them up and sells them for a fraction of the retail price at a dozen stores around the state. The proceeds go back into the business of helping low-income families move into houses that they help to build.

3. Choose sustainability. Want new stuff? Choose products made from sustainable materials like cork, bamboo or wheat board for flooring, wall paneling or cabinets. Look for reclaimed wood and give it a second life by building it into a printer table.
Consider whether the products you buy for your office or cubicle are recyclable, made from renewable materials and durable enough that you won’t need to replace it for years.

Even if your boss won’t go green, you still can. Do your part to stop waste, save energy and think about the environment before you buy.

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