The greener office

In honor of the annual Earth Day observance, here are things each of us can do to be friendlier to Mother Earth.

Whether we're employed by someone, working for ourselves, job hunting or retired, we can:

•Drive less. Walk more. Ride a bike. Combine errands for fuel efficiency. Carpool.

•Print less. The Sierra Club says typical office workers print out 10,000 sheets of paper a year. If you must print, use both sides, use less color ink and print in "draft" mode to reduce ink use.

•Recycle more. Paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, toner cartridges — keep them all out of landfills if you can.

•Reset the thermostat. Does the air conditioning really need to be set so that people are wearing sweaters in summer?

•Reuse things. Paper clips, for example. And cut up all those unused "notes" and address pages in the backs of calendars and use them for shopping lists or memos.

•Decorate your workplace and home with live plants. It's good for the air you breathe.

•Use "green" cleaning supplies.

•Unplug all your desktop electronics or plug them into a power strip that can be turned off. You'll save the power that flows when devices are on standby, even when you think you've turned them off.

•Turn off room lights when you leave, including that glow from your computer monitor.

•Kill your screen saver. According to NSF International, an environmental safety testing organization, it's smart to change your screen setting to "hibernate" or "sleep" when your computer is idle for more than 10 minutes.

•Encourage your workplace to use reusable or recyclable products in the lunchroom. Use your own coffee mug instead of disposable cups.

•Encourage the purchase of "sustainable" food products such as organic, fair-trade coffee for the office coffee pot.

Everyone can't do all of the above. But everyone can do some of it. Collectively, especially when corporate muscle is put behind it, it makes a difference. And it isn't hard when it's a habit.

(Diane Stafford is the workplace and careers columnist at The Kansas City Star. Her "Your Job" blog at includes daily posts about job-related issues of wide interest. Readers may write to her at: Kansas City Star, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, Mo. 64108-1413, or by email at

Copyright 2012 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.); distributed by MCT Information Services

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