Green for less: Make your workplace eco-friendly

Rainn Wilson, who plays The Office's notoriously anti-environment watchdog Dwight Schrute, once said in an interview, "Dundler Mifflin is not about green. We're about producing and selling paper. We want people to not recycle. Dundler Mifflin wants people to use as many paper products as possible. So stop recycling immediately! And buy more paper!"

While you probably won't meet someone so vehemently anti-green in your work experience, you'll most likely meet with a lot of apathy. Who wants to recycle when it looks like the cleaning lady just throws the bottles and papers out with the trash anyway? And why take the time to wash out your mug when there's a stack of nice Styrofoam cups so readily placed by the coffee machine?

If you're trying to green over your lifestyle, you've got to make sure your ideas spill over into your office space. You're not going to be the most popular person at first, as people will be resistant to your ideas for change. But we've made it easy with our step-by-step guide to green over your office. Ultimately you'll save you and your company a ton of money, and once you're able to show your colleagues the numbers they're saving, you're going to be the coolest person in the office. Sorry Dwight, but green is in!

1.Find a new BFF.
Start with your office manager or human resource manager. Make them your new best friend. Show them the numbers and offer to do all the work, such as ordering new supplies. When you show the amount of savings to be had, they'll find no reason to say no. And once you have an ally, the rest will be cake.

2. Make green the only option.

If you take away the paper cups, employees will have to bring their favorite mugs from home. Here's how to justify it: multiply the number of office workers you have by 250, the number of workdays, times $.10, the price of a paper cup. So if your company has 100 workers using on average a cup a day, that's $2,500 a year spent on paper cups. Instant company savings.

Other ways to go green and save money:

  • Swap out the lightbulbs for energy efficient ones.
  • Buy all office products, nontoxic cleaning supplies, snacks, etc in bulk.
  • Buy recycled paper supplies.
  • Download Ecofont in the office to save on printing costs.

3. Give the staff Incentives.
Work with your office manager to set a list of goals.
Here's a sample list:

  • Establish a uniform company e-mail signature that reads "Please consider the environment before printing this email."
  • The last person who leaves the office ensures that all power equipment is turned off, and power cords are removed from walls. Even while plugged in, and not in use, electronics are draining your company of electricity. Use power strips to make unplugging these at night simple and easy.
  • Track down your building manager and make sure that your office recycling is actually reaching the recycling plant. Take turns with a small team to watch where your trash goes over a series of days, and make sure the garbage man doesn't throw it in with the rest. If it's not being recycled, call up your city recycling plant to set up a program for paper, bottles, and cans. If you're told it's too expensive to start this type of program, have a fundraiser in the building to raise the money. Convince people that their small investment now will save our future generations.

After each goal is reached, reward the staff. Coffee and donuts, pizza party, you get the idea. If your office manager isn't willing to doll out a little cash, bake some brownies at home, and ask a colleague to make the next batch.

It's not always easy to make revolutionary shifts in our office spaces. It's going to take a little bit of inspiration and a whole lot of nagging. But once you do, you'll be rewarded in more ways than one. And your green energy will start to be contagious in the office. Besides, it's always a welcome change of pace to shake things up, if your workplace is as boring as The Office. And if you're still feeling resistance from a Dwight Schrute naysayer, feel free to drop an anonymous present on his desk, such as an Inconvenient Truth DVD.

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