Many people lose sight of saving energy and reducing their carbon footprint when they are not at home due to limited options available, such as recycling. However, if you are at work and want to continue with an eco-friendly lifestyle, there are still some
things you can do to reduce your footprint at the workplace.
Start Recycling Programs
If you work does not recycle, perhaps you can try starting a recycling program. Let your employer know your interest and how easy it is to have the county pick up recyclables. If your employer is not enthusiastic about the idea, perhaps you can start with just asking coworkers to give you their aluminum cans. That way you can at least get other people interested in the idea of recycling and you can take the cans to a local recycling center where you can get money for the cans. Once you let your employer know how much money you have been making off of the aluminum cans, perhaps you can suggest using that money towards other things pertaining to work that could help save the company money. It will get your employer involved and hopefully encourage him/her to help you start a regular recycling program.
Bring Your Own Lunch
Oftentimes people have to run out to the local fast food chain during their lunch break, which contributes to more CO2 emissions. Many fast food chains do not practice sustainable methods in their food production and eating out everyday can get expensive. If you absolutely need to find an excuse to get out of the office each day go for a quick walk and find a spot to eat outside. You can enjoy your lunch at a public table in the sun or back in the office.
Shut Down Computers
If you work with computers, turn them off at night. Sometimes the technical staff is making updates to the company computers, so if you cannot shut them down completely, just make sure to turn off your monitor. You can also ask if there are certain electrical plugs or extensions you can use that may help decrease the amount of energy your computer uses when not actually being utilized.
Bring a Reusable Water Bottle
Just because your company offers bottled water, doesn't mean you have to purchase one every day. Bring a reusable cup or bottle that you can easily fill up at the water fountain. Remember, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has higher standards than the Food and Drug Association (FDA), so don't assume that if it comes in a bottle and costs more, it is safer to consume. It has been found that in some cases tap water is more pure than bottled water and the plastic bottle may actually start degrading over time and leach chemicals into your water. Furthermore, plastic bottles create waste and even if they are recycled, energy still needs to be used to break down the bottle so it can be created into something else.
If you accidentally printed a document you shouldn't have or printed more pages than necessary, recycle the excess paper. Even if your company does not have paper recycling, just use the back of it as scrap paper to take notes or print on the back side for unimportant documents that you just need hard copies of.
Take Advantage of a Flexible Schedule
If your company does not have a set time for you to be at work, try and come in and leave at times that do not coincide with everyone else's schedule so you do not get stuck in traffic jams. Large amounts of CO2 emissions are given off while a car is idling during rush hour. If your work is really flexible, try asking for four 10-hour workdays so you do not have to drive to work that fifth day. Who doesn't like having Fridays off? Or see if you can work from home. If possible, take mass transportation, bike or walk to get to and from work. This may even help save you money in the long run and minimize wear and tear on your car.
Your carbon footprint follows you no matter where you go and is dependent on the choices you make each day. Try and take the good habits you established at home elsewhere, like the workplace. You may even start rubbing off on your coworkers and help them change their habits to be more eco-friendly.
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Stephanie Siemek is a freelance writer whose work can be found on Examiner.com.
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