How To Green Your Office

Graymatter’s Guide To Greener Business Practices

Part One

Find Sustainable Strategies

When we set out to go green at work, I was amazed to learn how toxic our office was (and still is!).   Nearly everything was suspect.  Obvious culprits like computers and light bulbs didn’t surprise me but I hadn’t considered the adhesive on post-its, the ink in the toner cartridges or the furniture itself.  It was almost too much information, which made the process seem daunting.  So, after a deep breath,  we decided to take things one step at a time. As a matter of fact, I came to realize that the act of going green itself can be waistful.  You don’t necessarily want to rush right out and get rid of old computers and furniture (unless you have a hyper sensitive immune system).  That just adds to a landfill.  As with anything, the middle path, the path of moderation is often the wisest.  We came up with some broad stroke ‘strategies’, and I use that term loosely, that were sustainable to the environment and to our budget.  So, for us going green is an on-going process.  We’re more green today than we were yesterday but not as green as we’ll be tomorrow (I hope!).

Here are some of the first sustainable ‘strategies’ we came up with.  Maybe they’ll work for you or maybe you’ll come up with your own.

  • The Three Green R’s:  Recycle, Reuse and Repair everything. We reuse the smallest things.  Like envelopes.  Actors send me lots of headshots in manila envelopes so I reuse them to mail documents to non-clients. I just slap my address label over top of theirs and tape it up if need be.  I save the nice new envelopes for my clients and important documents.  We try to apply the same approach with electronics (notice I say ‘try’).  Bob O’Haver, my partner/husband gets a ‘techno charge’ out of buying new equipment.  And even though he really wants a new laptop, we continue to repair and upgrade the one we have.  It may not have that ‘cool factor’ anymore but it’s energy efficient and works well enough for our needs.  Now, what to do with that computer once it’s no longer useful is a rather lengthy topic and the subject of a upcoming blog, but the general idea is, of course, to recycle or donate it.
  • Don’t Pollute:  Telecommute. We’re big advocates of telecommuting.  Our employees can telecommute for us and we telecommute with our clients.  I often work virtually in Los Angeles from Great Barrington MA. So does Bob.  At first, my casting clients didn’t like the idea.  They wanted me there, working hands on with the talent.  But once I convinced them to try it, they changed their minds.  Now, casting virtually has a ‘cool factor’ all its own.  And I get to cast talent in cities around the country but still walk to work!
  • Small Steps First. There are many small simple steps on the road to a green office environment.  Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
    • Retro-fit lights with fixtures using much less energy. Generally, energy-efficient lighting upgrades increase lighting quality and yield 20% to 30% annual rates of return.
    • Turn OFF computers and lights when not in use.  It’s even advisable to unplug computers as they drain electricity even in standby mode.
    • Switch to a green web hosting company. offers 100% solar powered, 0 emissions web hosting with a 99.9% uptime guarantee.  And with our Start Now! Program, it’s super easy to do.
    • Do Away with the Throw-Away.  Replace disposable stuff with the real thing.  Use glasses and mugs rather than styrofoam and plastic. Get real dishes and silverware.
    • Get an expresso maker to cut down on trips to Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.  Besides, it’s a great perk for your people.
    • Get a filter for your tap water.  Not only do empty water bottles make up large portion of landfills but the energy expense to ship bottled water is astonomical.  Besides, the water quality in the US is one if the best in the world.  Take advantage of it!
    • Get green cleaning supplies and office supplies whenever possible.  (More on this in upcoming blogs).

I hope this was of help to you on your journey to go green in the office.

Some of the next topics in the Greening Your Office blog series will include:

  • Green Office Supplies – what’s available and where to get ’em.
  • Green Technologies – The Tricks to Telecommuting
  • Green Your Office, Clean Your Air
  • How Green Is Your Computer?
  • And More…

Go Green With Graymatter!

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