Sustainable products in an office

Using Eco-Friendly Products and Practices in Your Business

Greening your operation doesn't have to cost a lot. Here are some ways that using eco-friendly products and repurposing supplies you already have can save you money.

If you've ever felt like your office is generating too much trash, you're probably right. The average person generates 4.4 pounds of waste a day, according to reporting by recycling organization Roadrunner. What's more, many companies waste electricity and other resources. That's not healthy for the planet — and it may be detrimental to your budget, too.

With a little extra mindfulness and use of eco-friendly products, you can likely reduce the amount of waste your operation generates and trim your budget. Give these four approaches a try:

1. Extend the Life of Your Supplies

Start by looking for ways to reuse everyday supplies, and invest in reusable options. Instead of disposable items, opt to buy ceramic mugs and metal silverware for your breakroom and reusable envelopes for inter-office use. You'll spend a little more up front, but you'll save money and help the planet over the long term.

There are likely lots of other ways to repurpose supplies you already have. Whenever possible, give envelopes and boxes a second life by placing a new label over the address. Reuse sheets of paper that were printed on one side for internal purposes such as note-taking.

2. Recycle What You No Longer Need

Keep used materials out of landfills by seeking out recycling options. Paper is an easy start; place recycling bins near your printers and workstations. When you replace electronics like computers or printers, ask if the vendor will recycle your old one. Put bins in your breakroom to collect bottles and cans, and think about adding a compost waste bin — although, it should be noted, this idea works best in communities where curbside compost pickup is available on a regular basis.

Recycle ink and toner cartridges at your print retailer, as well as batteries, light bulbs and small electronics, such as cellphones. It's also smart to practice pre-cycling by choosing eco-friendly products with minimal packaging.

3. Reduce Your Office's Energy Use

A simple way to reduce your energy usage is to install a programmable thermostat that automatically adjusts the temperature during nonworking hours. You can save up to 10 percent on your energy bills by lowering your thermostat seven to 10 degrees for eight hours a day, according to the U.S. Department of Energy

There are many other small ways to use less. Installing LED bulbs will reduce your energy use and last longer than conventional light bulbs. Remember to turn off your computer, copier and printers when you leave for the day. Use their energy-saving mode during business hours, and only turn them on when needed.

4. Embrace the Benefits of Nature

Make your office greener, literally, by getting a few plants. Not only do plants help purify the air, but they can reduce stress. Just like taking a walk outdoors can help you feel calmer, bringing plants into the office can make you feel more centered, creating a more positive work environment.

Making your business a little greener could have a huge effect on your culture and bottom line — and you don't have to dive in all at once. As you work to keep the office clean, look for ways to make small improvements to the work culture. In time, your office environment will be a much more eco-friendly place to work.