Thurston Green Business

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Companies everywhere are looking for ways to go green and make a positive difference for the environment. Policies such as mandatory “green training” of employees and energy conservation are being discussed in boardrooms across America, and with good cause. Being environmentally conscious is very important and a responsible way to do businesses. However, many of the green products and training courses are expensive, and sometimes there just isn’t room in the budget to go that extra mile. Lucky for you, there are actually quite a few ways to go green and also save money. Many green products cost less, save more energy, and cut down on waste, which not only helps the green movement, but puts money back in your bottom line. Today we explore ten ways you can save money by going green.

1. Replace Office Lighting With Compact Fluorescent Bulbs


Compact fluorescent bulbs save money in two important ways. First, they use approximately 75% less energy than traditional bulbs, which can slash your electricity usage dramatically. In addition, compact fluorescent bulbs last about 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, meaning you don’t have to waste money replacing the office bulbs all the time. Cutting down on unnecessary energy usage is a hallmark of the green lifestyle, and if you’re trying to make your business more eco-friendly, this should be considered priority number one. The compact fluorescent bulbs come in all shapes, sizes and watts, making the change from incandescent bulbs as easy as, well, screwing in a light bulb!

2. Use Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) Paper


Some businesses shy away from recycled paper because in the past it was not of very high quality. Thankfully this is no longer the case. Not only is PCR (What is PCR?) paper of equal quality of regular copy paper, it is actually about 10- to 20-percent less expensive, depending on the brand. According to a 2004 survey by Conservatree, more than 90 percent of printing paper contains no recycled material. Those using recycled paper have always been in the minority, so switching makes you a leader and sets an example for others in your industry.

3. Use Remanufactured Ink and Toner Cartridges


Most remanufactured ink and toner cartridges cost about 15 percent less than standard brands. Office Depot reports that one returned cartridge keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of national landfills. One remanufactured toner cartridge also saves about half a gallon of oil from being consumed. If your business burns through ink at an average rate, you can have quite an impact by simply switching brands — while saving money to boot!

4. Buy Energy Star Electronics

Energy star

Energy Star products include electronics such as printers, copiers, fax machines and computers that are specially designed to use less electricity. These machines consume less power while working and power down when not in use. Energy Star products cut average power usage by about 75 percent over standard machines, which is not only good for the environment but can save your business money on electricity. Energy Star products currently save Americans about $3.5 billion annually. Energy Star even offers helpful calculators to assess your business’ unique needs and average expected savings by switching to their products.

5. Go Paperless – Buy Digital Storage Solutions to Cut Down on Paper

Energy star

Rather than printing out copies of your next 20-page employee manual or quarterly report and distributing them to all of your divisions, consider storing them on a network for everyone to view online. Instead of printing forms and filling out reports with pen and paper, digitize them and store them in a searchable data-base. This may seem counter-intuitive at first. After all, aren’t big digital storage units expensive? Well, in the short-term you will have to spend a bit of money to make the switch. However, you will instantly begin to save money on recurring paper expenses, filing cabinets to store all the paper, folders and dividers, and ink and toner. Depending on how quickly you burn through these products on a regular basis, your digital storage will not only help the environment by reducing your dependence on paper and ink, but it will also begin paying for itself in a matter of months.

6. Invest in Power Strips

Power Strips

You may be surprised to learn that nearly three quarters of office power might be consumed when machines are off but still plugged into a live outlet. This electricity could be conserved for other needs. Not to mention that you are paying for power that you are not using. The easiest way to cut down on this waste is to plug your electrical equipment power strips. The cubicle computers, the fax machines, the copy room – anywhere office machines are in operation, install power strips. At night when you close the office, have your team click the power strips off. This will prevent the huge waste of electricity, simultaneously helping the environment and keeping monthly electric bills way down.

7. Harness the Power of Daylight Wherever Possible

Sun Shine

We realize this is not always possible, but some businesses completely overlook this option. If you have a conference room lined with a few big windows, a sunny day with the blinds open could provide more than enough lighting for that day’s meetings. Try this technique in your office the next bright day you get. You’d be surprised how well lit the room will be using natural light. Out on the floor or in the general cubicle area, this might not be an option, but if you can keep the lights off in the conference room and administrator’s offices even a quarter of the year with this technique, you’ll be doing both the environment and your electric bill a big favor.

8. Turn Off Conference Room or Office Lights When Not in Use

Sun Shine

This might sound like an obvious suggestion, but take a brief walk around your office building. More than likely, you will notice offices and conference rooms with lights on when no one is using the space. This is common among most American offices and is one of the leading causes of energy that could be conserved for other needs. If you find yourself or your employees frequently forgetting to turn off the lights as they leave their offices or conference areas, consider installing motion-activated light switches. These eco-friendly light switches work by turning the lights on for 15 or 30 minutes whenever someone passes in front of them. As long as there is motion in front of the sensor every now and again, it will reset the timer and keep the lights on. All you have to do is install one behind the chairs of the conference room or near your desk in your office, and the system will help slash your electricity costs dramatically whenever the rooms are not in use. Needless to say, this will not only save your company money, but will help conserve power.

9. Consider Eco-Friendly Travel Options

Sun Shine

Public transportation is a safe and affordable way for you and your employees to cut costs. Riding public transit can save you more than $9,000 a year. Additionally, when your employees use an alternative to driving alone to work, you free up parking spaces for your customers, and your employees’ attendance and on-time arrival to work improve. It also enables you to reach a wider labor pool and retain good employees.

Intercity Transit, Thurston County’s public transportation provider, offers a range of commute options, from buses to vanpools, ridematch assistance, travel training for new riders, and pass and bicycle programs. To learn more about your local public transportation services and your commute options, visit Visit Intercity Transit’s commute savings calculator at to find out what you can save by sharing the ride!

*American Public Transportation Association (, based on the November 9, 2009, national average gas price and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.

10. Check Out GreenPrint to Cut Down on Wasted Printing

Sun Shine

GreenPrint is innovative software that helps identify and diagnose printing waste. The program will examine the print job and alert the user of possible waste, such as pages with only a web address at the bottom, unnecessary images, etc. Users can then determine whether or not to follow the program’s recommendation before printing. GreenPrint saves businesses an average of 17 percent of enterprise printing materials annually. The program even logs annual cost savings so that you can track just how much money your business is saving per user by implementing GreenPrint. On average, each user who actively uses GreenPrint saves about $100 a year, adding up to a significant savings for medium- and large-sized organizations.


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