Later this week, people in more than 190 countries will celebrate the 40th Earth Day, a worldwide event set aside to promote a healthy, sustainable environment for all people. And, more than 1 billion people are expected to participate in Earth Day activities around the world.
But whether you’re going to an Earth Day event or not, there are plenty of simple things you can do on the job to do your part for building a more sustainable world. In honor of Earth Day, here are four easy ways you can go green at work all year long…
- Don’t go alone. It’s a no-brainer that carpooling and riding public transportation are cheaper and more eco-friendly than driving to work alone. But according to the most recently available U.S. Census data, 77 percent of American workers still drive to work alone. How hard is it to share a ride with a neighbor or co-worker? Or better yet, ride a bike? If it’s possible for you to avoid driving alone to work, do it. You’ll be doing the earth — and your wallet — a favor.
- Ask to stay home. What’s even better for the earth than riding in a carpool? Avoiding the commute altogether. In 2008, more than 17.5 million people worked remotely, according to World at Work. But millions more could conceivably do so — and you might be one of them. If you think you could effectively do your job from home, why not create a proposal and present it to your boss? Everybody’s doing it; for instance, as an experiment, the staff of Inc. magazine went virtual for one month and produced its April issue entirely from workers’ homes. (Read about how it worked and ideas for pitching your own boss here.) If you win approval to work from home, even part-time, you’ll be saving energy, saving your company money, and depending on the environment in your office, possibly saving your own sanity.
- Take paper seriously. The average U.S. office worker uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the Sierra Club. Instead of using paper like it’s a limitless resource, take seriously the note you see at the bottom of so many emails these days: “Please consider the environment before printing this email.” Don’t print out an email unless it’s absolutely necessary. When possible, scan and email a document rather than printing and faxing it. For in-office use, reuse the back side of paper. And always, always recycle.
- Lunch sustainably. For many of us, eating lunch can be the highlight of the work day grind. But it doesn’t have to be an energy-consuming, waste-producing practice in consumerism. When you can, consider bringing your lunch to work in reusable containers. (And bringing locally raised, organic foods is healthy for you and the environment.) If you order takeout, keep in mind that it will most likely come with lots of packaging that will ultimately end up in a landfill. Try to combine orders with co-workers to limit packaging, and bring your own reusable tableware. If you’re going out for lunch, try to choose restaurants that serve locally grown foods and serve them on reusable plates.
Have other ideas about how to go green at work? What does your company do to reduce its impact on the environment? Share with us here.