Monday, 10 October 2011

October in the Office

We're ten days into October already and I've only just got round to looking at How Green Are My Wellies by Anna Shepard for this month. The book is split into twelve chapters giving tips and suggestions for green living month by month. I got this book for Christmas a few years ago and I love it. Each chapter's short enough to read in a spare half an hour and ends with tips and actions you can do to green your own life.
For October Anna looks at green office etiquette and how even if you're greener than green at home it's easy to slip into bad habits without noticing at work. Many work places now have environment champions or committees and small steps can often make the office a much more pleasant place to be.
Her main tips that everyone can do are:

  • Install greenery - Putting a plant on your desk absorbs toxins and pollutants (a green air filter) and also absorbs CO2.
  • Give your computer a lunch break- Even if you don't turn the whole thing off (turning it off then back on again later gives a nice 3 minute settling in period after lunch doesn't it?) definitely turn the screen off. The screen accounts for about 80% of the computer's energy and it only takes a second to turn on again.
  • Lunch al-fresco - Bringing in your own lunch saves money, saves on packaging as you won't be disposing of a plastic box every day and is almost certainly more healthy for you. Eating outside (even sometimes in winter!) is even better for you as it gives fresh air, a walk and a proper break from the office.
  • Right sort of cuppa - Using a proper cup from home rather than a plastic beaker makes drinks taste so much better. You could even ask the canteen whether they can provide milk jugs and sugar bowls rather than sachets.
  • Ethical snaking - A mid afternoon snack always raises spirits but it feels that much better if you know you're helping the environment too. Did you know there are over 800 Fairtrade certified products available? Does you office stock any of them, and if not could they?
  • Put the office to bed - If you, like me, turn lights out as you go round the house at night do you do it at work too? The last person out the door should check computers are turned off and lights are out, and make sure it's never you who is the one who's left things on!
  • Promote a green commute - Some people enjoy their quiet alone-time on the way to work but other love company. Organise a lift-share board or cycling/bus group.
I'd add make-your-own recycling boxes to this list. If it's a long way to the recycling facilities use a cardboard box to collect your recycling and then do a trip at the end of the day. Group together with colleagues and take it in turns to make the trip. This will raise awareness of recycling and also create a feelings of community responsibility and achievement.
As well as all this office greening a quick look on Wikipedia showed up a few more things to do this month. October is Fairtrade Month in the USA, on the 21st October it is Apple Day in the UK (so remember to stock up with nice British ones) and on the 29th October it's the RSPB's Feed the Birds Day, so better stock up on bird food too! My sparrows have finally found the second seed feeder so hopefully by the end of the month I'll have lots of full happy birds in my area.

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