Office supply megastore Office Depot has three environmental aspirations: to "Buy Green," "Be Green" and "Sell Green." As part of their 20th anniversary celebration, they've upped their ante to the green business world with a series of documents, publications and lists designed to help themselves and their customers be a little greener. They've published a "Guide to Buying Green", a fairly comprehensive guide for incorporating more recycled material, more non-toxic ingredients, and more modular (e.g. replaceable parts, refillable pens) parts into your office supplies; a companion, of sorts, to their "Green Book" catalog of "environmentally-preferable products." There's also the "Top 20 Ways to Go Green at Work", a laundry list of better options for your office, from the products you buy to the electricity you use. Taken as a whole, it's not a bad "beginner's guide" to going green at work. But that's only really the half of it.Of course, as with everything, it is to be taken with a grain of salt. There's a bit of bandwagon-hopping going on here; Office Depot has realized that it's smart to brand themselves as green as possible in the post-Inconvenient Truth world, and they've done a pretty slick job of it. At the end of the day, their job is still to sell as many office products to as many people as possible, and this is well-incorporated into these materials. Still, they aren't being dishonest about any of this; in reference to the "What is 'Green'?" question, they come out and say,
It's a question that has no single answer because every product has an environmental impact. To the environmental purist, no product is truly green because as soon as a manufacturing process begins, there is an environmental impact. At Office Depot, the belief is to find a proper balance. Office Depot also believes that there are "shades of green" and products on the buygreen site could be considered just green, light green, or dark green, depending on their environmental benefits relative to other products in their category.
While this suite of marketing, products and information hasn't quite caught up with the efforts of a company like The Green Office in terms of top-to-bottom sustainability, we still think it's important to recognize Office Depot's efforts: they're making it easier, more accessible, and ultimately cheaper for a very large group of people and companies to make greener choices, and we can't underestimate the sizable influence of their brand. Of course, we'd love to see them doing more, but big companies taking small steps sure beats big companies ignoring the green market altogether.
For more on going green at work, we encourage you to check out TreeHugger's How to Green Your Work guide. ::Office Depot Environmental Stewardship, ::Office Depot's Guide to Buying Green and ::Office Depot's Top 20 Ways to Go Green at Work