Imagine a typical workplace. You’re probably thinking of a bland environment filled with cubicles, yellowing electronics, steel filing cabinets, and paperwork—all in the delightfully wonderful shade of white—right? Far from being green physically, the hackneyed office is also far from being eco-friendly with its power-guzzling appliances, over 9-hours-a-day airconditioning, and the aforementioned paperwork. If you’re feeling environment-conscious, here are some points you can raise at the next office meeting to bring some color and a touch of Mother Nature to your 8-to-5.
Migrate to the cloud
The Gadgets team personally vouches for the merits of having a cloud-based work process. Obviously, we are a print magazine after all so we can’t completely take physical documents out of the equation, but for the most part, we’ve done away with ink, pen, and paper. Over the past few months, we’ve made the transition from analog proofing to having everything, including submitting, editing, layouting, color correcting, and proofreading articles, done in the cloud. We’re currently on Google Drive, but services such as Dropbox and Office 365 are also perfectly viable options.
To give you an idea, a single page often goes through three to five revisions before it’s given the final go signal. Going the manual route, that easily equates to almost a ream of bond paper every month. We do reuse most of that amount (sometimes by using the other side to print troll faces and sticking them underneath an unsuspecting coworker’s mouse), but they still inevitably wind up in the trash.
With the cloud, not only are we removing physical paper out of the equation, we’re also removing the inconveniences that come with it, such as paper jams, misprints, and queuing up for the printer. Additionally, having our files up in the air allows us to work anywhere as long as we have a laptop/tablet and a decent internet connection with us. For us, that means we can write and beat deadlines from home. For you, that means better collaboration, flexibility to scale your storage as needed, and of course, a small carbon footprint.
Pack your own lunch
Are you the type of person who likes takeout or delivery food? Then you probably noticed that after your hearty office lunch, you end up stuck with a mountainous pile of paper bags, napkins, plastic utensils, and other packaging materials that sit stewing until someone finally cracks and throws the mess outside. With the hustle and bustle of work, there’s really little alternative to the convenience of the eat and run lunch period.
You certainly can try waking up earlier and making food for yourself, but between buying groceries, prepping the ingredients, actually cooking, packing, and cleaning up afterwards, that’s a whole other pain affair altogether. If you can handle those types of mornings, then kudos to you! But if you’re a lazy bum like yours truly, you can just bring a reusable container or two, head over to your nearest carinderia, and tell them to put your orders in there. Whichever method fits your lifestyle, both are guaranteed to produce less waste materials. They’re also leagues cheaper and healthier in the long run, not to mention you won’t be fed up with having the same fast food order day in and day out.
Get some plants
What better way to introduce a greener office environment than to literally introduce a greener office environment? No, please don’t get the fake plastic plants which only serve as decorative flavor. They’re only going to accumulate dust on your desk. Rather, get tiny indoor plants that are specifically bred to require less sunlight and water. They’re also absurdly hard to kill, so unless you’re deliberately not watering them for days on end or turning them into a mini landfill, they should survive even the most careless person. Heck, I have one at my desk at home and it’s still well and alive to this day.
You can find such greens in mall boutiques and botanical gardens. Besides being essentially rocks with their resilience, they also have psychological and health benefits. For the first point, some plants are imbued with meanings such as good health and fortune—things that might serve as great mental pick-me-ups during the longest days. For the latter, there are indoor plant species that cleanse the air, provide mild therapeutic scents, and even repel insects. Studies have also shown that these can help you relax and focus, so if you often find your browser filled with YouTube tabs, indoor plants may just be the life hack you need.
Upgrade to eco-friendly officeware
Tons of printers, scanners, copiers, projectors, air conditioners, air circulators, lights, notebooks, desktops, and other officeware are released each year, and while the average Juan will see them as being quite similar to their predecessors, the newer models’ spec sheets and features will prove otherwise.
Printers and copiers are producing outputs faster and are becoming more efficient with ink. They’re also shipping with newer technologies that help them do more with lesser uptime. Projectors are shipping with brighter, more energy efficient, and longer lasting bulbs. Air conditioners and circulators are consuming less power while cooling rooms better. Heck, they even bust airborne particles on the spot ensuring better quality air. Laptops and desktops can process more information faster thanks to power-efficient components. I could go on and on about the changes these products go through, but the point is simply this: officeware are becoming greener and have lower total costs of ownership. And to a business, every cent saved is a cent going to better investments.
Though of course, buying a new product year after year isn’t the most economical solution. It isn’t environment-friendly to be giving officeware a lone one year tour of duty and then sending them off to retire in a cabinet somewhere. But if your daily workspace drivers are already a couple of years old, it would be wise to request management for new ones.
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE October 2016 issue.
Words by Chris Noel Hidalgo
Art & Illustration by Benedict Asal