It can be hard to get back into the swing of things at work after the cheer of the holiday season. But we have some tips that might help get your creative juices flowing again during the dark, cold weeks of winter. You can become a new office hero by suggesting ways for your employer to save money while helping out the planet.
In today's tough economy, every penny saved can help keep folks employed. Plus, it can't hurt your reputation in the boardroom if you are the one to show your boss how he or she can trim expenses.
Businesses use a tremendous amount of water, energy, paper and other products, and reducing waste saves money, as well as valuable resources. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
1. Turn the Heat Down
Office spaces and other places of work require enormous amounts of energy to maintain an even temperature, whether it's the heating or cooling season doing the work. While this can be a tricky subject among coworkers, who may have different body types, metabolisms, expectations and preferences for temperature, by talking things through you may be able to encourage your building manager to set a more eco-friendly temperature. He or she may not know that the air around your desk feels like a summer night in Alabama, even if it's snowing outside. Or perhaps your team can agree to try out lowering the thermostat by just a few degrees, and avoid wearing short sleeves for a while. The savings can be substantial, especially if you suggest that temperature is lowered at night, or other times when few folks will be present.
2. Suggest Energy-Efficient Lighting
You've probably heard that you can save money by switching to fluorescent lighting. But maybe no one at your office got the green memo. Also, are there times when you can raise blinds and turn down the lights? Does everyone remember to shut off unneeded lights when they leave at night?
3. Turn Off Those Computers!
If your office is like many others, people leave their computers on all the time, even when they aren't using them! However, you can tell your boss that every worker who shuts his or her machine down before heading out each night saves an average of $90 worth of electricity a year. That adds up! The Department of Energy recommends shutting off your monitor if you aren't going to use it for more than 20 minutes, and the whole system if you're not going to use it for more than two hours. The agency says time spent off extends your machine’s life—tell that to the IT guys!
4. Just Say “No” to Water Bottles
A lot of companies provide employees and clients with bottled water. That's a nice thought, but carting around all those plastic bottles isn't doing the environment any favors. Suggest a cheaper filter system instead. You'll even have a talking point to impress those clients when they need a little refreshment.
5. Encourage Car Pooling and Biking
Ask around and see if some of your coworkers might be interested in doing some car pooling. Not only can everyone save on gas, but you'll also reduce emissions and build camaraderie among your team. Point out to your bosses that the company can save on maintenance and security of parking lots, and in a number of areas may qualify for valuable incentives from city governments. Does your company have a bulletin board, either virtual or the kind with actual thumbtacks? Ask your boss if you can post a sign-up sheet for those who might be interested in participating. Similarly, does your work place have bike racks? Those who bike to work also tend to be healthier, and more fit employees are sick less often and require less health care. Aren't you smart for thinking of that?
6. Save on Printing
As anyone who has ever owned an inkjet or laser printer knows, replacement cartridges are mighty pricey, and soon eclipse the original cost of the device. You can save your company a pile of cash if you help encourage people to print black and white as much as possible, to use draft settings, and to only print when needed. For draft copies recommend that people print on both sides (it's easy!), and definitely suggest that your company recycle if they don't already!
7. Provide Reusable Mugs and Dishes
Put out ceramic mugs and plates instead of paper or Styrofoam and people will use them. Tell people to clean up after themselves, and they'll also develop a greater sense of pride in their surroundings, instead of just tossing things away after a single use.
8. Green the Chow Hall
If your company has a cafeteria, suggest that it also provide reusable utensils, and minimize packaging. Suggest that food buyers look for local and seasonal ingredients, as well as plenty of meatless options, which are greener and generally cheaper.
9. Invest in Some Plants
If you had success with the proceeding steps, we salute you! If you're feeling a little ambitious, you might try suggesting that your company provide a few house plants, which help clean the air, leading to more comfortable, and productive, employees. Plants also can improve the mood of employees and guests. At the least, ask that your boss consider reversing a ban on plants, if you work in one of the unfortunate places with such a strict policy.