Being Green at Work

Coffee Cups

Coffee has become an indispensable part of the working day. In America we throw away 25 billion styrofoam coffee cups every year. Over its life span, a mug will be used 3,000 times, resulting in 30 times less solid waste and 60 times less air pollution than using the equivalent number of cardboard cups. Ask take-out coffee shops to serve your favorite brew in your own favorite mug.


Despite advances in technology, the paperless office remains a futuristic fantasy, with the typical U.S. worker using a whopping 10,000 sheets of paper – as much paper as is produced by pulping a fully grown tree each year.

To cut down on paper, use both sides. Set the printer or photocopier defaults so that you have to choose not to print double sided; proofread documents carefully on your computer screen to avoid having to print multiple copies; save single-sided scrap paper for taking notes or for use in your fax machine.

Trees logged from forests account for more than 71% of office paper used today, with 8 million tons of copy paper used in the U.S. every year. That is equal to 188 million trees.

Recycled Paper

Recycled paper uses up to 90% less water and half the energy required to make paper from virgin lumber and produces 36% less greenhouse gas emissions, yet less than 9% of the 8 million tons of printing and writing paper used in the U.S. each year is recycled content.


Leaving lights on after all the workers have left, combined with all the computers left on standby, can double a company's energy bill. Ask your building manager to turn lights off nightly or to install movement activated sensors.


Computers and monitors use more electricity than all other office equipment combined. The average computer left on all day, every day uses nearly 1,000 kilowatts of electricity over the course of a year, producing more than a ton of carbon emissions. Turn off your computer on nights and weekends. If you are away from your computer for shorter periods, put it in sleep mode or enable your PC's power management features, which will reduce energy use to about 5% of full operating power.