Easy ways to reduce your company’s environmental impact
- April 1, 2008
merican industry is one of the largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants. Not everyone,
however, is in a position to overhaul their building with new environment-friendly features. The book “True Green @
Work: 100 Ways You Can Make the Environment Your Business,” offers everyone — from everyday employees to CEOs — the
opportunity to reduce their waste and carbon footprint at work.
Authors Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin offer 100 ways businesses can reduce their impact on the environment.
Suggestions include everything from buying an indoor plant for your desk to offering green financial rewards to
using only Energy Star-compliant machines.
Following are samples of McKay’s and Bonnin’s suggestions:
The individual employee:
1) Use your own coffee mug. Even though you’ll need to wash it, you’ll reduce energy and waste from using
throw-away paper, foam or plastic cups. After 3,000 uses, the mug uses 30 times less solid waste and causes 60
times less air pollution than equivalent drinks in throw-away cups.
2) Reduce paper usage. Paper can take up to 70 percent of office waste. Employees can reduce the amount of
paper they use by ensuring documents are formatted to avoid printing extra pages and by printing double-sided.
3) Use your computer’s sleep mode. If your computer is on during meetings and lunch breaks, you’re using
unnecessary power. Go to the system preferences on your work computer to set your computer to go into sleep mode
after 10 minutes or so of inactivity. Sleep mode uses less than 5 percent of the computer’s full-power mode.
4) Better yet, turn the computer off. Turning the computer off at night will greatly reduce the energy used
and pollutants released from your computer. The tale that says leaving your computer on uses less electricity is a
myth, according to the authors. A computer left on all day each year will use 1,000 megawatts of electricity and
release more than a ton of carbon emissions each year. If you’ll be out during extended times during the day,
consider turning your computer off.
5) Keep an indoor plant on your desk. A plant will help filter the air by absorbing pollutants and computer
radiation. It will also restore oxygen levels and keep the area cooler. Another benefit? They can help prevent you
from catching germs from your co-workers.
1) Use recycled paper in the office. Recycled paper uses up to 90 percent less water and half the energy
needed to make regular paper. Currently only about 10 percent of the paper used in the country’s offices is
2) Provide good kitchen facilities. A kitchen that allows employees to bring food from home helps workers save
on meals and reduces solid waste. Invest in real utensils to avoid the trash created by disposable cups, plates and
3) Create a more casual dress code. Men’s suits can be tough in warmer climates and can create the need to
boost air conditioning bills and energy used. Provide a closet where employees can keep more formal clothing.
4) Create flex-time or tele-commuting scheduling possibilities. Allowing em-ployees to work at home or drive
outside of morning and evening rush hours will save fuel and reduce greenhouse gases.
5) Send electronic documents to shareholders. Correspondence with shareholders can use a lot of paper. Send
electronic documents whenever possible.
6) Eliminate unnecessary lighting. Make sure lights are turned out when employees leave for the day or put
them on motion sensors.
McKay is co-founder and deputy chairwoman of Clean Up Australia and Clean up the World. Bonnin is a director of
Clean Up Australia and Clean up the World. The book was printed by National Geographic.