Growing up in New York City and living in Boston for a while, I couldn't help but notice how many office buildings were lit up like Christmas trees all night long. Even as a kid, this seemed extremely wasteful. Who needed all of those lights at night after the cleaning staff was gone, the mice? And, what about all of those copy machines, faxes, computers, water coolers, refrigerators, etc. that were left plugged in when nobody was using them? Very wasteful indeed.

Even if you work in a small office somewhere in small town, USA, or even at home, there are some changes that you can make so that your work space can be greener, save the business money, and help save the environment.

First, if you are not the owner of the business you'll want to speak to some high level management person to discuss your ideas about greening the office, get their support, and implement their ideas too.

Maybe you can offer yourself up as the "green champion" that can get things going.

Nine steps to making your new green program work effectively.

1. Easy for everyone to participate

2. Understandable for everyone

3. Reliable- services and feedback must be predictable

4. Cost effective-the more efficient, the more cost effective
it is

5. Demonstrate commitment on the part of the management and staff. There must be a good mode of communication (getting and using feedback)and accountability

6. Identify the contact person

7. Designate a monitor-someone who will make sure everything is being done the way it's supposed to (e.g. checking the recycling bins to be sure nothing extra is in them).

8. Smooth Communication- create clear communication between the program contact, management, staff and custodial staff so everyone is on the same page. Emailing and/or face-to-face meetings are recommended to save paper.

9. Educate and publicize your program- create a kick off event, and a mode for communicating the why's and how's of greening the office (poster, internal website, bulletin board, email). Perhaps creating some contests to get everyone excited and inspired might be fun. For example, whoever recycles the most paper, plastic, metal and glass in their recycling bin for the month gets a prize (a bag of fair trade organic coffee, or organic, fair trade get the idea.)

Now for the green part:


We all know that driving in our own cars to work and back adds considerably to greenhouse gases. There's also the price of gas, which inevitably will go back up, and wear and tear on your car. And, there's always unpredictable road conditions, depending on the weather in your area.

A better choice is to take mass transit (buses, subways, and commuter trains) if available, and/or carpool with others who live and work in the same area.

The best choice is telecommuting, even for part of the work week. Thanks to access to the Internet and computers, workers can be connected to the office from home. In fact, some people (like me)find that they are more productive working (in their pajamas) from home. According to a US Census, I'm not the only one who enjoys working from home. In 1980, 2.2 million people reported working from home. In 1990, it was up to 3.4 million, and in 2000 it was 4 million (though the numbers are likely higher than that if you include the people that work at home for part of the week.)Good article for making the case for telecommuting to your boss:


· Review documents electronically (on your computer screen,
laptop, cell phone or personal digital assistant.)

· Use email, webinars, telephone trainings, and other electronic technologies

· Use a scanner to make digital versions of images in order to exchange them electronically

· Save information on CD's, DVD's or memory sticks instead of paper.

· Maintain files in an online storage system accessible to everyone who needs access.
· Print on both sides of the paper, and choose recycled paper.
· If you must print, use the "fast" or "draft" setting on your
printer. Uses less ink.
· Recycle used office paper


· Install water saving devices (e.g. low flow tap water aerators, low flush toilets, low flow showerheads)
· Choose energy star appliances
· Maintain your heating and cooling systems (clean and replace
filters when needed)
· Choose an electricity supplier that sources their power from
green sources
· Replace light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and install
task lighting
· Ideally make use of natural daylight (if you are at the design
· Use light blocking shades in hot climates (and warm weather
periods), and insulated window coverings in cold climates and
· Turn off all equipment, including lights at the end of the day.
· Give everyone his or her own mug, silverware and dishware (or
have them bring their own).
· In the cold weather, turn the thermostat down and ask people to wear a sweater
· In the warm weather, ideally use ceiling fans, and/or fans at
people's desks, or if it's central air, set the temp higher and
ask people to dress accordingly.


· Encourage the purchase of locally grown organic food (either
brought from home or purchased nearby, if that's an option)
· Choose organic fair trade coffee if you offer coffee
· Along with the coffee, prefer organic milk or half and half
(local is the best)
· Install a tap water filter rather than purchasing bottled water.
It saves money, gives you cleaner water, and tastes much better.
My favorite filters are here.


· Choose nontoxic, earth friendly cleaners such as Aubrey's Earth Aware, and Liquid Sparkle, Bon Ami, and natural cellulose sponges.
· Outfit your bathroom with recycled toilet paper, an air hand dryer, organic soap (Vermont Soap even has a dispenser--I can help you purchase in bulk and get the dispenser. Just email me if you are interested:
· Remove any artificial air fresheners (especially those nasty ones in the bathroom). Aura Cacia has a wonderful plug in pure essential oil air diffuser (I have a few of these around the house. I got mine at a local Shaw's supermarket, and I saw them at Hannaford supermarket too.) Also, Vermont Soap has some nice aromatherapy room sprays that you can keep in the bathroom.

That should get you started.

Author's Bio: 

Amy Todisco is a nationally recognized green living expert, consultant and startup business coach.

She's been inspiring and educating people on how to live a greener, healthier life based on her own experience and research for over 20 years. Free articles (and a newsletter), consulting, ebooks, home study courses and group mentoring.

For her full bio, go here: