1. Recycle. It may seem obvious, but Americans produce millions of tons of waste per year. And it's not just from individuals. Businesses are often the biggest offenders. How often have you printed a large stack of documents for a meeting, only to have everyone toss them out right after? If you must dispose, make sure it's not headed for a landfill. Create a plan for what you're going to recycle and set up bins in accessible areas around the office. The easier it is for people to recycle, the more likely they'll follow through.
2. Donate old products. Upgrading your office's computers? Don't throw out the old ones. E-waste is extremely detrimental to the earth. If you live in New York City, it's not even legal. Computers, printers and other appliances are full of super toxic substances like lead and cadmium. Instead, donate them to a school in need. These donations are tax-deductible and more importantly, they help kids learn.
3. Use less paper. Instead of handing out a bunch of memos, send an office-wide email. Don't print out large documents unless you absolutely must. You'll save on paper costs, not to mention a few trees.
4. Stock your office kitchen with glasses and plates. Instead of using paper or plastic cups, why not try a nice set of glasses? Keeping a constant supply of disposable dishes can get very expensive. Plus, it generates a ton of waste. Just make sure people know they must clean every dish they use themselves. You're their boss, not their mother.
5. Spring clean the right way. Use reusable cleaning products like mops and sponges, instead of paper towels or disposable wipes. And use only the amount of soap, cleaning spray or detergent that you need. Trust us, using half a bottle of Clorox won't make your desk any cleaner than a few squirts would.
6. Turn off your computers at night. Whether you forget to turn it off, or you just don't like waiting for it to boot up in the morning, leaving your computer on overnight is never a good idea. It's a waste of energy and will rack up your electricity bill. And screensavers don't actually save much energy at all. Institute a company-wide policy that everyone must shut off their computers when they leave the office. According to the EPA, this could save between $50 to $150 per machine, per year. For forgetful employees, most computers have an option that automatically shuts the computer off after a certain time.
7. Use a power strip. Even when you turn a computer off, energy still flows from the outlet through the cord. Smart Strips cut off that extra power when it senses the device is shut down. At around $30, it's totally worth it.
8. Use energy-saving bulbs. Switch from the standard incandescent bulbs to florescent. Compact florescent bulbs use about 75 percent less energy and generate 75 percent less heat. Each bulb can shave off about $40 from your energy bill in its lifetime. Imagine what you'd save if every bulb in your office were a CFL.
9. Plant some trees. As the weather gets warmer, it may be tempting to crank up the AC. You can save up to 30 percent in cooling costs by planting a few trees around your building. Trees reduce the temperature outside by 3 to 6 degrees. Plus, they help keep the Earth clean by consuming carbon dioxide and filtering our water supply.
Thanks to Alana Horowitz / Open Forum