Photo via Jason Pratt @ flickr
It's a tough time for businesses these days; every little bit of money saved could mean the difference between a raise--and your cubicle neighbor getting laid off. Coming up with ways to cut your office budget might get you on the boss's good side, but thinking of ways to go green while trimming costs? That's just good business. We came up with seven environmentally-savvy ideas--varying in difficulty from turning off the lights to repainting the hallway--that will help your bottom line flourish while your workplace goes green.
1. Check your settings.
Photo via Carsten Lorentzen @ flickrThis one seems almost too easy, but it’s a sure-fire way to get your team started on a green path without taking time away from the workday: Follow the same energy-saving plan at the office as you do at home. This means turning off the lights when you leave your office (or when a group of people leave their cubicles at the same time), keeping the thermostat set a little bit lower, and making sure your computers and printers are in energy-saving mode so they’ll shut off during long lunches and endless meetings. It’s ridiculously simple, but your building manager (and your boss) will be grateful when the bills start coming down.
2. Print less.
Every office has one person who insists on printing all their emails. Make it stop. Then tackle the rest of your team’s print habits by adding a green email signature that reminds your friends not to print your note, and installing printing programs that check for extra pages and wasted space. Encourage your coworkers to print only the pages they need—instead of an entire document—and learn to love your scanner. Trying to save a webpage? Print it as a PDF file; this creates a new electronic document that you can save on your desktop instead of in your inbox.
3. Cut back on supplies.
Trimming your paper use is one way to save money—those reams of paper aren’t cheap!—but your office can stem the tide of unnecessary desk supplies for even more savings. Set up one dedicated area for the hole punch, staplers, scissors, envelopes, and binders—and then return anything that’s reusable to the area after you’re finished with it. Organizing the supply closet helps, too; you won’t end up investing in case of blue ballpoints only to find a case of black ones hidden under the mail drop-off. And those boxes of business cards? Don’t order them unless you really need them.
4. Green the break room.
Whether your coworkers are the kind who constantly snack on candy from the receptionist’s desk or who down liters of Starbucks throughout the day (or, like the people we’ve worked with, both), greening your break room can save money and resources. Try an energy-efficient vending machine and bulk buys of items instead of individually-wrapped servings. Cut back on paper cups by having everyone bring in a spare coffee mug, and find an in-house coffee (preferably Fair Trade) that everyone can agree on—or rotate flavors throughout the day. Still need that midday trip outside the office? Go for a quick walk around your building; fresh air will boost your productivity more than any number of M&Ms.;
5. Reuse your electronics.
The lure of a shiny new computer—especially when someone else is paying for it—is hard to resist, but electronics waste accounts for a huge portion of the trash in our landfills. Before putting in a purchase order request for the newest, fanciest model on the market, take a close look at exactly what programs and operating capacities your team members need, and then try to upgrade and improve (instead of replace) wherever possible. Even small changes, like more memory and a new monitor, can make a big difference to the bottom line while preventing anymore trash buildup.
6. Make your space more energy-efficient.
If your office is moving or renovating, then it’s a good time to think about implementing larger green changes, like solar panels and carefully-placed windows and skylights that let you use natural light instead of artificial—and save you money in the long-term on your energy bill. Just redecorating? Choose furniture made from recycled materials and that’s Greenguard certified along with low-VOC paint; it might not seem cheaper right now, but preventing toxins from circulating in the air at your office could save you a bundle on sick time.
7. Work from home.
One of the greenest ways to cut back on your office costs is to send your employees home to work. The overhead of the building goes way down, while email and teleconferencing (both of which are often free) make it easy to stay in touch. Try to work out a plan so that the office can be closed one day a week for maximum savings—maybe it means having employees work four ten-hour days and take Fridays off, or maybe a rotating schedule can help you cut back. But once you’re away from headquarters, keep all the same good green practices in mind to save money in your own home office.