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Need ideas for office greening!

Please help me come up with some ideas for a thoughtful reader and loyal friend, head of the "Wellness Committee" at her 50-person office.  Some additional infos that might help: they have 8 or so departments, and it's not a super-corporate environment.  Something weird that might matter for this project: they don't get any natural light in their basement space.  Let's get to it!


Hi there,

...the Wellness committee has been charged with presenting recommendations to the department heads about how they can operate in a greener fashion.

I’m really excited about this.

Can you make any recommendations or suggest any resources for this project?

Posted on Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 01:20PM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf | Comments4 Comments

Reader Comments (4)

Here are some tips on office organization, courtesy of TheGreenOffice.com:

Reducing storage needs:
- When possible, request to receive invoices and other records electronically rather than in hardcopy.
- Consider scanning invoices and other non-legally essential documents and storing them digitally, rather than filing hardcopies away.
- Store essential documents such as bank records, contracts, etc. only for the time required by law. Shred and recycle old documents when you no longer need to store them.
- Access vendor catalogs online or via soft-copy, rather than filing hardcopies. You can quickly remove your company from vendor catalog lists using a service such as www.41pounds.org, www.greendimes.org, or www.dmachoice.org.

- Buy used filing cabinets rather than new ones. www.iReuse.com can connect organizations with used office furniture, which saves money and reduces environmental impact
- Reuse filing folders rather than throwing them away. Write folder labels in pencil so they can be erased and reused. If your file folders have permanent labels, just flip the spine and you have a brand-new blank tab to write on.

- Only store the documents which you are really going to need for the future.
o Shred & recycle confidential items that don’t need to be stored
o Consider printing on the back of non-confidential paperwork before recycling it
- File folders that aren’t being reused can generally be recycled
- Don’t throw away your old file storage! Plenty of other organizations will be able to use it. Services like www.iReuse.com or http://www.recycle.net/Commercial/furniture/.

Green Purchasing:
- Avoid purchasing vinyl binders whenever possible, since vinyl is known to release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) over time.
- Look for files folders, file storage boxes, dividers, and other paper-based products containing as much post-consumer recycled content as possible.

May 1, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJesse Gibbs

wow there are a lot of good ideas above. i tried to start a Green Committee at my office but got shut down. things I wish I could implement:
- give staff real mugs, dishes, and silverware, and get rid of paper and plastic cups, plates, cutlery etc.
- eliminate vending machines selling junk food and bottled water/soda
- printers with double sided printing capacity
- use low VOC paints and only repaint walls when absolutely necessary (they seem to repaint our office walls once every 6 months here which is insane!)
- provide cleaning staff with green cleaning supplies
- switch to CFL lights
- Turn off all lights and computers overnight

Treehugger.com has a "How to Green Your Office" section which should be helpful

You got shut down?! Julia, that is horrible! Frankly though, I can't say I've even gone as far as trying to make a green committee at work - I just do my little actions on my own: ordering 100% PCW supplies for myself, not using a kitchen tray, not using the garbage can, bringing in a reusable mug for coffee. People definitely notice, though we don't always talk explicitly about it. Last week the mailroom guys left a sales pamphlet about recycled paper products (a little ironic, no?) in my inbox because they thought I might be interested. I guess I'm too afraid to formalize it because I think people will think it's stupid? Or I don't like the conventional stereotypes of "green" people? I'm not sure.

Keep on doin' what you can!
Thanks again,

May 2, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

Thank you everyone. I am really happy that we were asked to look into this. I think it is difficult to implement a big plan without it coming from the top. I feel like I've just been doing the little things for a long time. I think this could help make everyone feel better. Getting recycling containers went a long way already. :)
Thank you for your input!

May 2, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaty

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