Green is the New Black: How to Make Your Office Environmentally Friendly

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Freelance writers often cover environmental issues. The blogosphere is abuzz right now with topics like recycling and global warming, and rightfully so. We should all be concerned about the environment we live in. But, have you ever stopped and considered your own professional carbon footprint? Your office — whether it’s a brick-and-mortar workspace, or simply a little corner in your living room — has an impact on the environment. Here are some tips for making that space as environmentally friendly as possible.

  • Go digital – Most writers subscribe to trade journals. It’s part of the business. But, once you’re done with the hard copy of your magazine, it’s likely to end up in the trash. Consider changing to digital subscriptions. Subscription sites like Zinio can help you find which magazines offer this service. Digital subscriptions are usually available for a wide variety of devices.
  • Turn down the heat – Keep an eye on your thermostat. Turning down the heat in the winter — or up in the summer — is a great way to conserve energy. If you have a home office, install a space heater. It’s likely that you’re going to be spending most of your day in there anyway; why heat up the whole house?
  • Buy second hand – E-waste is a growing problem for our nation. As far back as 2009, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s eCycling page, discarded electronic products contributed 2.37 million short tons of material to our country’s waste stream. A great deal of that, according to the EPA, is “not waste at all.” Much of it is whole electronic equipment that could easily be re-purposed. Do your part. When you need to upgrade your computer or laptop, look for a refurbished model.
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle – Let’s face it, writers need tools. Even if you create copy for the Internet, you may still need pens and paper to scratch out rough ideas, create outlines or even just to get your creative juices flowing. Recycle as much of that as you can. Keep a bin in your office for recyclable paper, for instance. And don’t forget your ink cartridges. You may be able to have them refilled. Many national retailers, Costco for instance, offer this service. You can also drop off your used ink and toner cartridges to be recycled.
  • When you can, use your phone – While we all need to get out of our workspace from time to time, limit your driving when you can. Call the office store before you drive over, for instance, to be sure they have the product you need. If they do have it, they may even be able to mail it to you. Consider doing interviews for articles you’re working on by phone as well. Especially if you have follow-up questions.

The savings generated by your little office space may seem like a drop in the bucket, but if we all do our parts, those little drops will add up to a tidal wave of change.

Kate C is a full-time freelance writer and part-time organic gardener. Her pesticide-free yard, lawn and garden are as green as it gets.

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