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Eight steps toward a more eco-friendly workplace

By ALLISON MILES
April 20, 2013 at 12:05 a.m.
Updated April 20, 2013 at 11:21 p.m.

16 x 9 eco work place

Looking to expand your company's efforts to "going green" even further? Consider joining Victoria's Blue Sky Initiative.

The program advertises "no idle zones" via signs posted outside of schools and businesses, said Kate Garcia, programs coordinator with the city of Victoria's Environmental Services department.

Every five minutes of idling results in 1.9 pounds of air pollution, she said.

"It really adds up," she noted.

Already, all Victoria schools and two businesses are involved in the program.

For more information, call Environmental Services at 361-485-3230, visit victoriabluesky.org or go to the department's Facebook page.

From piles of papers to plug-in appliances and other common sights, the office isn't always the most eco-friendly place.

Still, there are ways to cut back on any business' footprint, said Kate Garcia, programs coordinator with the city of Victoria's Environmental Services department.

"Every little thing adds up to big differences," she said. "There's something for everybody to do to go green."

With Earth Day just around the corner, here are eight ways to go greener at work.

Print wisely.

Avoid printing office documents if possible. If you must have a physical copy, consider double-sided printing and see if your machine offers a "fast draft" option, which uses less ink. Although not the best method for printing photos, "fast draft" works for most documents.

Reuse office items.

Refill print cartridges instead of throwing them out and transform manila envelopes that come in the mail into interoffice envelopes. Packing and shipping material can also be reused. Instead of throwing out furniture or equipment, see if it can be of use elsewhere in the building. If not, sell or donate it.

Recycle.

Transform unused scrap paper into notepads and recycle paper, plastic, cardboard and more when possible. If your office has multiple dumpsters, consider replacing one with a dumpster solely for recyclable items.

Cut back on energy.

Turn off lights when you leave the room and hook equipment such as computers up to surge protectors. When you're done for the day, shut those surge protectors off. Even when electronics are off, they still consume energy.

Drive smart.

When running errands and making appointments, map out the most efficient routes. Set aside a time frame to avoid repeat trips to and from the office. Not only will you save on fuel, but it also cuts vehicle emissions from the air.

Modernize your meetings.

Rather than driving across town to meet face-to-face, consider teleconferences or those done online through websites like Skype. Walk or ride your bike to nearby appointments.

Opt for energy-efficient equipment.

Energy Star-rated items use less energy than the average appliance and can be identified by a logo on the item's packaging. Also consider retrofitting other areas of the office, such as installing low-flow toilets and sensor-activated paper towel dispensers.

Consider your landscaping.

Set sprinkler systems to run from 6-10 a.m., when the weather is cooler. It might otherwise evaporate before getting the job done. Xeriscaping, or decorating with drought-resistant plants, is another way to cut back on water while keeping a manicured exterior.

Sources: Kate Garcia, programs coordinator with the city of Victoria Environmental Services department; Environmental Protection Agency website; Office Depot Community Relations website

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