Tools and Tips for an Eco-Friendly Office

Going “green” might sound expensive, but it actually can help save your business time and money in the long run.  Plus, being eco-friendly is easy and could be a fun activity for you and your employees.  Here are a few easy things you can do to help save the planet while also reducing your overhead.

Cut down on paper.

Use note-taking software.

During a meeting, nobody in the room should be filling up legal pads with pages of notes.  Note-taking software offers an easier way to take notes, which can help save a ton of paper.  An example is Microsoft Office OneNote, which comes with MS Office suite.  Our favorite is currently Evernote, which is compatible with Mac OS X, iPhone, Windows XP/Vista/7, Windows Mobile and Palm Pre.  Also, you might want to check out new technologies like Netbooks, Kindles and iPads, which make note-taking much easier and speedier.

Check this Wikipedia page for a full list of note-taking software.

Get rid of the fax machine and fax online.

Faxing online does not require paper or toner.  It doesn’t even require a fax machine!  Online fax allows you to send and receive PDF faxes, which means that you can pick and choose which faxes you’d like to print and which you’d like to delete.  Not only will you save paper and toner, but you’ll also save energy required to run a fax machine.  This will keep your energy bill low, and you won’t need to spend money maintaining a piece of hardware.

Order mini-cards or business cards printed on recycled card stock.

One way to cut your paper consumption in half is by cutting your cards in half.  Instead of ordering regular business cards, consider buying mini business cards.  They are small, inexpensive, and light-weight.  Nobody has any room in their wallets to carry extra cards anyway, so make it easy for yourself and for your contacts.  (One company who offers mini-cards is Moo.)  You could also order business cards printed on recycled paper and/or find a company that prints with soy ink, which requires less energy to produce than petroleum-based ink.  (One business card printing company that offers soy ink and recycled paper options is Uprinting.)

Check out more online business card printing companies.

Make recycling easy.

Put office recycling bins in strategic places.

People will want to recycle, as long as you make it easy to do.  Putting a paper recycling bin next to the office printer can have a dramatic effect.  You can also stick a recycling bin for glass and cans in the office kitchen or break-room.  Create handy signs and reminders to help point people to the bins.

Designate a box for old electronics and one of ink cartridges.

Don’t throw the defunct junk away; put it in a box and take it to an authorized e-waste recycler.  A lot of corporate chains now have recycling programs and allow you to drop off your old electronics and ink cartridges to be recycled.  Some places will accept electronic brands like Dell for free, or they may charge a nominal fee to take your old office equipment.  (Staples is an example of a company that accepts and recycles electronics and ink cartridges.)

Reward employees for going green.

Reward employees who choose to walk or bike to work.

If you’re employees aren’t driving, then you don’t have to pay for their parking.  Put the money you’re saving back in their hands by giving them a bonus for green commuting.  You can also get your office excited about walking, running or biking by entering in a local marathon or race for charity.  Last year, our team entered our local Bun Run, sponsored by Schlotzky’s Deli, and we had a lot of fun coming up with our team name: the Numba Bun Stunnas.  Healthy employees are happy employees, so encourage green commuting in your office.

Ban Styrofoam and initiate contests for best office mugs/lunch boxes/dishes.

Styrofoam is bad. It can’t be recycled, and worse, it doesn’t biodegrade.  Avoid buying disposable cups and plates for your office. Instead, buy washable mugs and cups.  You can also ask employees to bring a personal mug to work and turn it into a contest for the best/funniest office mug.  (We tried this very contest here at, and it was a big hit.)  You could also try this contest with lunch bags or dishes.  Reward the winner with a cash prize or voucher for free lunch.  You might be spending some money on the prize, but in the long run you’ll save a whole lot more by not buying disposable items.

Saving the planet is a really big task, but there are a lot of little things people can do around the work place to help.  Got your own tips for going green at the office? Share them with us!

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