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Eco-advocacy in the Workplace

February 1, 2011
image from the

It's the end of the work day...

I’d like to talk about greening the workplace today.  What are some things you can do personally and try to get instituted?

1) Think before you print. Always and every time.  Do you really need to see that in print or is a PDF sufficient.  Do you need to save it past today?  Is there a chance the info within might be lost if you don’t print it? Unless you can answer a resounding yes to those questions then you probably shouldn’t print it. If you must print use paper that’s already been used on one side.

2) Put your computer to sleep when you leave your desk and turn it off at the end of the work day.  If you have a company policy about leaving the computer on for updates you should be able to at the least turn off the monitor and at best put it in power save mode. According to the U.S. Department of Energy a typical computers uses:

  • CPU – awake / asleep = 120 watts / 30 watts or less
  • Monitor – awake / asleep = 150 watts / 30 watts or less
  • Laptop = 50 watts

Here’s a formula the department gives to figure out just how much energy (and money) is consumed:

Personal Computer and Monitor:

(120 + 150 Watts × 4 hours/day × 365 days/year)  ÷  1000
= 394 kWh × 8.5 cents/kWh
= $33.51/year

3) Save paper that has only been printed on one side to make into note pads, re-print on, give to your kid to draw on, anything other than tossing it straight into the recycle bin.  Paper should be fully used before it is recycled.

4) Digitalize everything you can What processes at work normally require printing?  Is it possible to use a PDF instead?  PDF annotation software makes it easy to view and mark up documents without printing. It even allows for multiple editors.

6) Institutional changes have the greatest impact If you want to make the biggest possible impact, join or start an eco-advocacy group at work. Using the official auspices of company sanctioned organization request that your company do the following:

  • Replace all incandescent light bulbs with CFLs
  • Replace paper towels with hand driers
  • Disposable dishes and plastic wear with re-usable dishes
  • Get double-side capable printers
  • Install a bike rack
  • Start a shuttle service for train commuters if it is too far to walk.

The most important thing you can do is… lead by example.

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