Go Green at Work: 7 Ways to Save the Planet and Save Money

carpool pickup
Carpoolers in San Francisco | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Earth Month may be drawing to a close, but you don’t have to give up on your efforts to go green when May comes around. Instead, make sustainability a year-round affair in all parts of your life, including at the office. Whether it’s working from home a few days a week or convincing your boss to get rid of bottled water, there are plenty of ways to go green at work. Even better, most of these changes are wallet-friendly as well, saving either you or your company money. If you’re ready to go green and save some green, check out these seven tips for a more eco-friendly office.

1. Ask to telecommute

If you want to go green at work, your best bet is to not show up at the office at all. Full-time telecommuters can reduce their work-related carbon footprint by 98%, according to Flexjobs. If all the workers who could work remotely and wanted to do so were allowed stay home, it would reduce gas consumption by 52 million gallons, equivalent to taking 88,000 cars off the road. Plus, telecommuters save money on gas and wear on tear on their vehicles.

2. Carpool with your co-workers

Can’t convince your boss to let you work from home? You can still green your commute by carpooling rather than driving alone. Not only will carpooling save you as much as $600 a month in commuting costs, according to South Florida Commuter Services, it also cuts greenhouse gas emissions and reduces oil consumption. In many states, carpoolers have access to HOV lanes, which can also reduce your drive time.

3. Clean up your lunch

tupperware with lunch items
Healthy lunch | Source: iStock

Pack your lunch in a reusable container rather than grabbing a sandwich to go and you’ll cut down on waste. You’ll also save money. Skip just two $8 lunches out every week and you could save hundreds of dollars a year. You can make your midday meal even more environmentally friendly by using locally sourced ingredients that don’t have to be transported long distances. Finally, encourage your office to stock the kitchen with real plates, silverware, and cups rather than disposables, so you have less to throw in the trash when you’re finished eating.

4. Ban bottled water and coffee pods

Expensive single-serve coffee pods (the grounds inside cost as much as $40 a pound) and bottles of water may have taken over office kitchens, but neither is very friendly to the environment. Hamburg, Germany, has banned the single-serve coffee capsules from state-run buildings because of concern about how much waste they generate (many pods can’t be recycled). Water bottles are easier to recycle than coffee pods, but making them uses up to 17 billion barrels of oil every year, according to Ban the Bottle. Eliminate both and your office will reduce waste and save money.

5. Green your desk

Put a little green on your desk, literally. Plants help filter indoor air pollutants, according to the Nature Conservancy, and even help to keep the office cool on hot days. Indoor plants can also make it less likely you’ll develop a cold or nasty cough, which could reduce absenteeism at work, a plus for your company’s bottom line. As an added bonus, people who had a few houseplants near them when they worked were 15% more productive than those who worked in a sparse office, a study found.

6. Pause on printing

woman using a photocopier
Woman using a photocopier | Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In today’s high-tech world, clunky printers seem pretty antiquated. Yet paper abounds in many offices. The typical office worker manages to use 10,000 sheets of paper every year, much of which ends up in the trash the same day it was printed, according to the Paperless Project. And while tossing those sheets in the recycling bin is a good move, using less is better. Making paper requires a lot of energy and water and is also a chemically intensive process, according to Planet Ark. Going digital can also help save your company money on paper costs, which will give your boss something to smile about. When you must print, choose recycled paper and use both sides.

7. Power down before you leave

Leaving your office computer on all night wastes energy. Powering down before you leave for the day is the eco-friendly choice. Switching off the power strip connected to you computer will save even more energy. Adjusting your screensaver settings is another Earth-friendly move. Telling your computer to go to sleep after a few minutes of inactivity is the greener choice, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, which also advises choosing laptops over desktop computers, since the former use less energy.

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