1. Change Light Bulbs to CFLs
Incandescent bulbs are the way of the past. If you’re looking to green up your office, switch them out for much more energy-efficient CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps). These light bulbs use a bit more energy when they are first turned on, says Energy Star, but once the get going guzzle 75 percent less than the traditional bulb.
2. Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
It hardly bears saying, but one of the easiest ways to ensure your office stays eco-friendly is to simply follow the old maxim: reduce, reuse, recycle. Set out a larger bin for paper recycling than you do for trash, to provide motivation. Reduce your intake of office supplies to only those you actually use, and resist the impulse to upgrade appliances or furniture unless you really need to.
3. Unplug Appliances When Not in Use
Appliances that are turned off and simply sitting there often masquerade as appliances that aren’t drawing any power. But that’s not true, says Energy Star: lots of appliances use something called standby power. This means drawing power so that remote controls can be used, or so clocks and timers will show. Even cell phone chargers draw power when not in use. Where possible, unplug anything you aren’t using to avoid wasting resources.
4. Mount Eco-Friendly Window Coverings
Even something as simple as your choice in window shades can save energy (and money). Blackout blinds and custom draperies can block harmful UV rays, protect you and your furniture and save on bills because they're energy efficient. You can find blinds made without PVCs or VOCs, like the ones 1-800-Recycling.com recommends for bedrooms.
5. Use Eco-Friendly Office Furniture
When upgrading furniture, try to reuse. Look to second-hand furniture stores or sites like Craigslist. If you have to buy new, make sure your purchases use eco-friendly varnish and sustainably harvested materials.
6. Use Plants as Air Purifiers
You don’t need to install fancy air purification systems that suck down more power and add to your energy bills. Instead, use house plants to detoxify your living space and add an element of tranquility. Among the best are English ivy, Boston ferns and rubber plants, says Mother Nature Network.
7. Clean Green
Given the array of available cleaning supplies that are both inexpensive and kind to Mother Earth, you have little excuse to use anything else. If you’re motivated, you can even make cleaning supplies yourself. Baking soda is fantastic for scouring and deodorizing. Lemon fights bacteria and odor. White vinegar can be used to to cut grease, remove stains and waxy build-up.
8. Be Careful With Paper
Using printing or copier paper unwisely is one of the easiest ways to damage the environment at home. Fortunately, you can be smarter. Go paperless when possible. Sign up for online bill pay. Send emails instead of letters. And buy recycled printer paper. Conservatree estimates that one ton of 50 percent post consumer content copier paper saves 12 trees, so making the switch will help you do your part, however small.
9. Use Low VOC Paint
Painting your office doesn’t have to be a trip down toxicity lane. VOCs, which come in many standard paints, react with sunlight and form surface-level ozone compounds, reducing air quality in your home, says the U.S. Green Building Council’s Green Home Guide (7). Buy low-VOC paints to keep air fresh and stay true to the environment.