How employers and employees can make their workplace more environment-friendly is one of my favorite employment topics. One of my favorite movies is “What About Bob?” starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus. In the move, Murray is absolutely hilarious as Bob Wiley, a neurotic and manipulative patient of Doctor Leo Marvin, an egotistical psychiatrist played by Dreyfus. The hilarity begins when Bob tracks down Dr. Marvin and his family on vacation using “baby steps,” the buzz phrase from Marvin’s new book of techniques for treating mental patients and their phobias.
What’s this got to do with going green at work? It may be a way to really get started. I stumbled upon a post in the blog, grist.org, which advocates for just such an approach.
Just what are the “baby steps” for going green at work?
Turn Off the Lights. Commercial buildings account for 18 percent of the nation’s greenhouse-gas emissions. A good portion of the problem is caused by leaving lights on in vacant rooms. Switch off the lights whenever you leave your workspace empty for more than 15 minutes, and especially when you leave for the day.
Turn Off Your Computer. Each computer left on at all times results in more than 1,000 extra pounds of greenhouse gases each year. At a minimum, consider using the sleep mode. The widespread use of sleep mode could prevent the annual release of hundreds of millions of tons of global warming.
Print Fewer Copies. The average American office worker uses 10,000 pages of copy paper. If you must print, do it on both sides of the page and reuse paper that’s only been printed on one side.
Turn Off Your Gadgets. If you use printers, scanners, and copiers only on an occasional basis, turn them off until you need them. Use a power strip to turn off your cell phone charger, lamp, and such when you’re not using them.
Ditch the Styrofoam. Stock your lunchroom, stock it with reusable mugs and kitchenware. Oh, and get rid of the plastic stirrers. It’s estimated that 138 billion of them wind up in the trash each year.
Control the Thermostat. This is a tough one. As previously debated on the Delaware Employment Law Blog, the office thermostat is a place of great conflict. But it is also a great place to save energy since heating and cooling systems suck up about 22 percent of energy used in the commercial sector.