The Green Office: Opt-Out of Your Paper Catalogs

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There’s a new website in town and it’s going to clear your desk forever. Catalog Choice is a free website that helps you to remove yourself from paper catalog mailing lists.

If you’re like me, this seems to be the perfect month to declutter the office, file away those piles of paper, and generally clean up to start a new year. After the onslaught of paper catalogs from the December holiday season, now is a good time to get off the mailing list from catalogs you no longer want. Catalog Choice allows you to use your identification number from the back of each catalog, then they contact the catalog company and have you removed from the list. And it’s a free service!

Clean your desk AND preserve the environment. Can it get any better than that?

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The Green Office: Library Books

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When was the last time you visited your local library? Remember that feeling of being surrounded by thousands of books and knowing you could take any one of them home with you?

I rediscovered my local library when we moved to the countryside two years ago. Sure, I can order business books through Amazon, but the nearest bookstore to us is 25 minutes away. So instead of trudging over to the bookstore when I wanted to see the latest business book, I went to my library. Not only did I discover a wealth of business books there, but I discovered something even more precious: I didn’t really want to own all the latest business books.

So now, I go to the library, check out the business books that interest me, read them for three weeks, then decide if I want them in my personal library. Most business books can be read in a couple of evenings and don’t have enough real “meat” in them to warrant needing to read them again. In the past two years, only 10% of the business books I read do I go ahead and purchase for inclusion in my personal library. I love the idea of being able to preview books at my leisure.

They also have a full stock of books-on-tape and DVD movies, everything you could want for both your business and personal needs.

This is great for the environment, too! Why waste the paper and processing of a book for each person when it’s so much better for the environment to share a book among many?

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The Green Office: Other Tips

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A few months ago, in my blog entry The Green Home Office: Duplex Printing, I talked about how you can save paper by printing double-sided (duplex) and how printing to a PDF file, instead of paper, can save you reams of paper each year.

I’ve got a few more “green home office” tips for you:

  • Whether you work in an office or from home, consider making small changes to the temperature in your office in order to save fuel. For instance, lowering your thermostat in the winter (and wearing a sweater and socks) or raising your air conditioning temperature in the summer (and using an electric fan or ceiling fan) can significantly. We lowered our electric bill by 10 percent by using our air conditioning less.
  • Use compact fluorescent (CF) light bulb. The older type CF bulbs use to flicker and had a weird color tone to them, making them practically impossible to use in an office setting. However, the new CF bulbs have a pleasant warm tone (especially the GE Soft White CF bulbs) and no longer flicker. We reduced our electric bill by 25 percent by changing all the light bulbs and turning off lights when we were leaving a room.
  • After you’re done using paper in the office, you can recycle it. If your local garbage collection company does not have a recycling program, check with your city or township office, they may have one.
  • If you can’t recycle paper, re-use the blank side for notes and to jot down information.
  • Buy recycled products and supplies for your home office. For suggestions, visit The Green Office.
  • Working from home can really impact the environment in a positive way. My husband and I bought new cars within a few months of each other. My car has 25 percent less mileage on it than his car, and he drives 250 miles a week as compared by my 45 miles (and that includes grocery shopping, post office, and other “errand” miles on my car). Just group all your errands together and make one long trip that includes the bank and post office, instead of separate, short trips.

I know global warming seems practically impossible to fix on a personal level, but every little bit helps. If you have other green home office tips, I’d love to hear them!

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The Green Office: Duplex Printing

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This weekend I purchased a duplex laser printer for my office (HP LaserJet 2015dn). All I can say is, “Wow! Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

How many times have you printed an article from the internet, one side of the page printed, one side of the page blank? Or printed online receipts? Or printed handouts? Or printed marketing text you were working on?

Each time I printed with one blank side, I was wasting paper. I tallied up my use of printer paper from the last 12 months, and I used a whopping 35 reams (17,500 sheets of paper)! While most of it went into the recycling bin, that’s still a huge amount of paper for a home office.

Now everything I print, from website pages to student guides, comes out double-sided. In fact I have the printer set to be double-sided by default, which means I manually have to change the settings if I want something printed single-sided.

The “d” in the HP LaserJet 2015dn stands for “duplex;” the “n” stands for “network-ready.” My husband has set up the printer to be usable over our wireless network (thanks, honey!). This means that we can share the printers instead of each of us purchasing our own laser and color printers. By having a wireless printer on the network, I can sit on the patio with my laptop and wireless connection, and print directly to my office printer without leaving the patio. Along with my wireless telephone headset and wireless internet connection, I have the ultimate wireless office.

Another great tree-saving tip: When I want to save an article I find on the internet, I don’t print it to paper. Instead, I print it to a PDF file and store it on my hard drive. All these articles are sorted by topic so I can easily find all my research when I’m getting ready to write an article or student guide. Plus the PDF file allows me to “highlight” phrases that are important (the way you’d use a yellow highlighter pen on paper) and save that highlighting with the PDF file. When I open the file later, the highlighting reminds me about the good information in the file.

Sure, all these things save money and time. But more importantly, they help preserve resources.

I’ll be writing more articles about the “green” home office in upcoming blogs.

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