Cozier, Calmer, Greener Office

The new season of "The Office" premiered last Thursday on NBC. It was a great episode. Watch it here for free.

The premier of "The Office" and my upcoming first day in a new office got me thinking about how I could create a work environment that was not only greener, but calmer and cozier too. I have come up with some suggestions for you that I will also be testing out in the coming weeks.

1. Energy Efficiency: Sure, sure, sure, your boss is paying the utility bill, so why worry about energy efficiency? Because lower usage at work reduces demand & prices grid-wide, reducing your bill at home. To start,

  • Change your computer settings so it sleeps when left alone for 3 minutes so it burns less electricity when you're not using it. Always turn off the monitor when you leave the room. And of course, turn off your computer (not just put it to sleep) when you go home for the day.
  • Turn off those pesky overhead lights and bring in a lamp from home. A fluorescent bulb in that lamp will reduce electricity usage and create a focused, calm atmosphere.
  • If you have a window, lower the blinds and turn them so they are slightly open. This will ease your eye sensitivity making you feel more relaxed and will keep the heat or cold out, reducing the heater/AC use.
2. Recycling: Everybody is afraid of being labeled at work. I'm sure you don't want to be the crazy environmental freak. But there are some polite and unobtrusive ways to reduce waste in the workplace.
  • Discretely place a plastic recycling bin in the kitchen. Most offices have paper recycling now, but few have plastic recycling. Water bottles and soda bottles take a very long time to break down in dumps. They also require petroleum for their production. When the bin is filled, throw it in the trunk of your car and add it in with your own recyclables.
  • Encourage your company to hand out customized Nalgene Bottles to all of the employees. These great bottles are dishwasher safe, microwaveable, they do not absorb tastes or odors, they are indestructible and can be used infinitely for water or any kind of storage. Corporate orders can be placed here. “It takes 1.5 million barrels a year just to make the plastic water bottles Americans use, according to the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, plus countless barrels to transport it from as far as Fiji and refrigerate it.”
  • Purchase recycled office products. They come in several different colors and are just as affordable, reliable and flexible as products made of new paper. You can see all the different options from Office Max here.
  • Finally, on top of recycling all of your unused paper, try to cut it down into smaller scraps for notes and scribbles.
3. Coziness: Your office is the one place, besides home, that you spend the majority of your time. Its difficult to make the office environment comfortable while maintaining a professional and non-personal standard. But you can certainly take steps to make things cozier.
  • Bring in your favorite plants to add life to your surroundings. Here is a list of low light plants that would thrive inside an office environment.
  • Hang colorful paintings on the wall. So many offices lack color or dimension. Adding a simple painting from home or purchased at a local market will give your mind stimulation beyond numbers and letters.
  • Put a small rug down behind your desk. This added texture and softness will make the hardened surroundings feel like home. Nobody will see the carpet so it will be your little secret. If you have a rolling chair, just put down your carpet and place the flat hard surface over top of it. The colors and texture will still add a calming effect.
  • Avoid using odorous candles, potpourri, or perfumes. Often these will create headaches for you and your co-workers. When candles are burned, they release particles that can cause respiratory problems too. If you need ambient light for calm, use a non-burning, odor free candle like this one.
There aren't perfect suggestions, but they are a good start to making your office friendlier to you and the environment.

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