Ten Ways to Green Your Current Job

An eco-friendly career doesn’t have to start in a sustainable enterprise, and a “green job” is only as green as you make it. No matter where you work, you can put environmentally sound principles into action — without starting a job hunt. In the process, you may even make your resume more attractive for future forays in the environmentally active job community.

  • Minimize the paper you use. Beyond tree removal, using paper impacts the environment via the energy used to produce it and the amount of greenhouse gases, wastewater, and solid waste that result from its production. Instead, try to print less or not at all, and use double-sided printing on recycled paper. Afterwards, don’t forget to reuse whenever possible and always recycle.

  • Recycle electronic waste. Donate old equipment to schools or nonprofits in your area. If your equipment is too old or if you have data security concerns, recycling is probably your next best choice. Look into take-back programs and recycling events sponsored by companies that produce electronics. Find an e-waste recycler in your area online.

  • Lead your company’s recycling efforts. If your company doesn’t have a recycling program in place, you may have a golden opportunity to take the initiative to implement a program that will save your company money and lighten the load on your local landfill. Look for local resources and organizations, which are likely to have effective collateral and recycling programs that are ready to implement in your company.

  • Influence your company’s purchasing policies. By setting up environmentally preferable purchasing or procurement policies, your company becomes more strategic about what products it buys. Creating and implementing green procurement policies takes time and commitment. Help your organization focus on environmentally preferable products and services, favorable life cycle costs, and recycled/recyclable materials. By encouraging the purchase of environmentally preferred products, your company is helping to build a market for products that are recycled, eco-labeled, and environmentally friendly.

  • Move toward more sustainable promotional items. Most companies use promotional items to keep the company in front of its target customers. Unfortunately, most of them end up in the trash. Evaluate your company’s promotional items via manufacturing method, materials, transportation, value to recipient, and biodegradability/recyclability. Perhaps this is an opportunity for you to do some research and find solutions that fit the company budget while enhancing the company’s image in your community.

  • Encourage your company to do an energy audit. One of the most efficient ways to cut business costs and go green is to do an energy audit. Often a local utility company will conduct the audit and produce a report for free. The report will likely tell you which areas of the company use the most energy. You may discover how much the company pays for energy leaks, inefficient lighting, and poor heating and cooling systems.

    During the audit, ask the utility representative about rebates and tax credits available through the utility, your local government, or the federal government. These rebates and tax credits may make energy retrofitting more affordable than you or your managers think is possible.

  • Persuade your company to turn off electronic equipment at night. Did you know that powering PCs and monitors accounts for 39 percent of the information and telecommunications industry’s emissions — equal to a full year of CO2 emissions from approximately 43.9 million cars? Keeping computers running is just plain costly – and does not limit wear and tear on the equipment, as once thought. A solid business case may be all it takes to shift management’s view. Remind them that 1E’s 2009 US PC Energy Report noted that powering down the world’s PCs for just one night “would save enough energy to light up New York City’s Empire State Building – inside and out – for more than 30 years.”

  • Travel wisely. Consider one of the following eco-friendly (and time-friendly) alternatives next time you need to book a long-distance flight for a business meeting: videoconferencing, webinars, or Skype. If you absolutely must travel to meet your business goals or attend a conference, pay attention to airlines who are working to green their airplanes or purchase carbon offsets for your flight.

  • Commute creatively. Instead of driving to work alone, consider carpooling, using public transit, walking, biking, or working from home.

  • Rethink shipping and packaging. Moving products and supplies to and from your office has a profound impact on the planet. Reuse packing materials or use items that are readily available and biodegradable/made from post-consumer recycled materials. Ask your customers to ship Styrofoam forms back to you for reuse. Choose ground shipping, which emits eight times less carbon than air travel. Consider shipping routes, and avoid companies that move packages via less eco-friendly hub-and-spoke systems.

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