People spend considerable length of time in their occupations and use up significant amount of energy and resources in the process. Certain sustainability principles, if followed while on the job, can help mitigate the impact on the environment and save money as well.
Work from Home when possible. You don't always need to reach your workplace. Working from home can save fuel- apart from saving time, energy and travel expenses. Make use of the phone and the Internet to communicate - talk, send instant messages, hold video conferences and attend online seminars.
Travel sustainably. Try walking or biking to your workplace. Where these aren't feasible, use electric vehicles, carpooling or public transport.
Carry your food/water. Avoid buying packaged food and bottled water. Instead, carry your own food and water in reusable containers. This way you'll avoid creating waste that comes in the form of disposable packaging.
Reduce paperwork. Do your record keeping and banking transactions digitally to reduce using paper.
Every professional - whether engaged in business, service or freelancing activity - needs a workspace to deliver his/her job. Creating a Green Office essentially means taking environmentally responsible steps to reduce the ecological footprint of this workspace. This is achieved by not only using eco-friendly equipment - devices / appliances / stationeries / furniture / furnishings - but also incorporating a work etiquette that's in keeping with sustainable business practices.
In order to make an office room green, one may take the following steps :
Reduce Waste. Avoid buying anything that might not be needed in the near future. Buy required materials in bulk to reduce "frequency of shipping" and "packaging waste". Keep stationeries to a minimum.
Use electricity sparingly. Make optimal use of natural daylight. Use CFLs and LEDs for lighting. Use auto power off sensors for lights in less visited areas. Ensure that all appliances are set to their energy efficient levels. At the end of day's work switch off equipment that need not run round the clock.
Use eco-friendly office equipment. Install energy efficient electronic devices. Use solar gadgets, rechargeable batteries, refillable ink catridges, sustainable stationeries and non-toxic cleaning agents. Using multi-function devices - like printers that can photocopy, scan, fax apart from just printing - instead of having different devices for different tasks, helps save money, space and energy.
Use eco-friendly room furnishings. All furnishings - including wall paints - should be done using low-VOC materials. Office furniture should preferably be durable, fixable, repairable, recyclable and lend themselves to dis-assembling. Indoor plants - apart from being soothing to eyes - help improve air quality by absorbing pollutants and reduce room temperature.
Order organic food. Arrange for organic - or atleast local - food to be served at official meetings and events. Keep reusable utensils at office to avoid disposables - especially for the drinking water / refreshments served daily. A Veg menu - being more eco-friendly - should always be the preferred option.
Encourage Telecommuting. For certain tasks - especially digital - where the contributinhg staff need not be present in person to accomplish, allow delivering over phone / internet. This not only saves time but also cuts down on fuel wastage and pollution due to travel.
Go Digital. Read documents on-screen and share them online. Digitize all documentation and try keeping records in dematerialized form. Keep backups on hard disks / flash drives - and backups of non-confidential information can be kept online. All this makes the work easier, faster and more organized - as information can be kept on searcheable databases online.
Use paper judiciously. It might not be feasible to go paperless altogether - atleast, try cutting down on paper usage. Print only when necessary and use both sides of paper - use misprinted paper for notes /memos. Use recycled paper whenever possible. While sending parcels keep packaging to a minimum and use shredded waste paper as 'packing stuff'.
Build a Culture of Sustainability. Try building an eco-friendly organization culture and encourage office staff to enthusiastically adopt sustainability practices. Provide recycle bins at appropriate locations and hang notices at visible points enlightening people about efficient energy usage in office. Allow a casual as-per-climate dress code. If possible, try arranging shifts/ duties/ working hours in a way that each one has four working days instead of five. Include sustainability message in your marketing communication - this will not only enhance goodwill by showing organization's concern for the environment but also inspire consumers to be environmentally responsible.
Green computing is the environmentally responsible design, manufacture, use and disposal of computers and associated technology. The aim of green computing is reducing the use of hazardous materials, maximizing energy efficiency during the computer's lifetime, and encouraging the recycle / disposal of consumer and industrial waste. Reduces the environmental impact through sustainable computing is thus the shared responsibility of businesses, consumers and the governmental authorities. While businesses should strive to create non-hazardous, energy-efficient and durable computers, consumers must use and dispose of them properly and governmental authorities must ensure the formulation and compliance of standards and regulations pertaining to the design and disposal of computers.
Simple Green Computing practices that an average computer user can adopt :
Instead of replacing an old machine with a new one, try refurbishing
When buying, look for energy efficient and upgradable computers
Activate the power settings of the computers to help save energy
Switch off computers when not in use or put in sleep mode when away
Refill printer cartridges and toners, instead of buying new ones
Ensure safe electronic waste disposal when discarding a defunct machine
By putting up websites and using social media, businesses and professionals can manage their transactions and communications online. This will greatly help in reducing usage of paper. Lots of software and apps are available to manage data and content, both online and offline. Incidentally, there are green web hosting providers who run their servers on renewable energy !
Various "Content Management Systems" and "Blog-Publishing Services" have made hassle-free even for the non-techies. Further, the "Cloud Computing" concept is helping in reducing costs and energy spent on maintaining servers.