For many green minded individuals there are many discrepancies between the environmentally friendly actions undertaken at home and the more profligate practices that are common place in their work environment. There are, however, a number of ways that it is possible to make the workplace more green; everything from cutting waste to recycling electronics can be considered.
Replacing old equipment
Many offices could cut a large chunk out of their carbon footprint by looking around the IT equipment that is utilised in their work place. Oftentimes, in an attempt to cut costs, old printers, for example, are preferred to more modern equivalents. Whilst, on the face of it, replacing this equipment may constitute an unnecessary expense this expenditure will ultimately help create more lean and streamlined operations. By using more efficient IT equipment it is possible to cut down on energy expenses; this has the two-fold effect of lowering bills and creating a more eco friendly working system.
Recycling electronic equipment
As office equipment becomes unusable it can be tempting to just throw all unwanted electronics in a skip along with the rest of the office’s waste. This action, however, can cause huge damages to the environment. If not disposed of in the proper fashion the toxins and chemicals that are found in most electronic and electrical items are likely to contaminate its surroundings and prove devastating to the soil and nature surrounding the disposal area. On top of this, most electronic and electrical waste thrown away each year can easily be repaired or have still usable parts in them; simply disposing of IT equipment like trash can waste lots of potentially salvageable materials. Both of these problems, however, can be sidestepped by engaging in WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Recycling. A lot of times this can be as simple as making a quick phone call – many providers of electronic equipment will take away old WEEE items to be disposed of in a proper, environmentally friendly way for a negligible or small cost. Similarly, it is not rare for local councils or even governmental services to provide these facilities – getting in touch with these is as simple as a quick scan of a phone book for the appropriate contact details. There is also the option, particularly suitable for small businesses, of hiring a WEEE recycling service provider.
Once old IT equipment has been recycled and replaced with more up to date equivalents it is possible to reduce further office waste by cutting back on the amount of paper used in the office. There are many simple measures that can be done to ensure this. Firstly, simply make sure that the deployed printer has the capability of printing on both sides of paper – many older pieces of equipment do not provide this facility despite the fact, in theory, this can half both the amount of paper used and also the expenditure spent on purchasing paper. Also it is possible to set a printer to not simply print one image per sheet of paper; although this setting is oftentimes default it is possible to make sure several images are set per sheet. This makes a huge deduction to a company’s carbon footprint and budget.
An often unconsidered area for improving an office’s green credentials is to check the toner cartridges used in their printer. By investing in higher capacity cartridges it is possible to save some money whilst, simultaneously, reducing carbon footprint levels. As a large percentage of the cost of a cartridge comes from the packaging and not the cartridge itself it is cheaper to purchase a high capacity one than two smaller items. The environmental benefit comes from the fact that it takes roughly the same amount of raw material to create a high capacity toner cartridge as it does one average sized one – in effect purchasing larger toners can half a company’s carbon footprint in this area.
Kieron Casey is a BA (Hons) Journalism graduate who blogs regularly on a number of topics including computer hardware, software and IT equipment.