Ways To Go Green at Work

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11.02.2020

A laptop sits on a desk by a window along with plants, an open book and papers.

As people spend more time at home during the quarantines and shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, electricity and water use has shifted from offices to residences. Having a green office while working remotely or studying at home can enhance your mood, lower your bills and support the environment.

Caitlin Griffith, sustainability coordinator at UT Dallas, says going “greener” at home is easy and beneficial.

“Caring for the planet and self-care are complementary components of sustainability that can bring positivity to the remote workspace, improving productivity, mental health, and environmental stewardship. This can be a great time for some interesting new habits to break the routine,” Griffith said.

The Office of Sustainability has some easy tips for making your workspace “greener.”

  • Bring a desk plant to improve indoor air quality and lighten the mood. Who doesn’t love a desk plant? Green environments can improve both self-esteem and mood. Here is a list of 25 indoor plants that are notoriously hard to kill. Keep an eye on lighting requirements.
  • Increase natural light. Natural light reduces the need to use electricity. Natural lighting can help boost moods, improve sleep quality, and motivate you to be more physically active.
  • Set A/C to warmer during the summer and cooler during winter. Air conditioning typically uses more electricity than anything else. You could save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by adjusting your thermostat 7-10 degrees from its standard setting for eight hours a day. Keeping it marginally warmer during the summer and slightly colder in the winter can add up to real savings.
  • Beware of vampire power. Vampire power is sneaky energy used by electrical devices that are turned off but still plugged into an outlet. Phone and laptop chargers are common culprits. Unplug any device that you will not be using for a while or turn off a power strip where multiple devices are plugged in.
  • Dodge plastic and recycle more. The best thing any of us can do regarding waste is to avoid generating it in the first place — especially plastic, which is not recyclable in many cases. It is best to dodge using mixed plastics #3–#7 because they are very difficult to recycle.
  • Compost! Practice the four R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot! Composting bins will allow produce waste to decompose naturally and eventually benefit your garden with nutrient-rich compost.
  • Switch to green cleaning products. Cleaning products present many health and environmental concerns. Green cleaning products are beneficial to the environment because the product may be biodegradable, have lower toxicity and volatile organic compound content, and have eco-friendlier packaging.
  • Go paperless to save money and resources. Rather than printing out a form to sign, try using a program similar to Adobe PDF, which allows for electronic signing. Sign up for paperless statements for each of your bills.
  • Embrace renewable energy. Renewable energy plans are becoming the default for homeowners in many areas, and they are also available to renters. Costs are generally marginal and you’ll feel good every time you flip on the light switch. Ask your provider if there is a renewable energy plan right for you.

–Robin Russell

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