"Going green" at the office used to mean remembering to toss your used paper in the blue bin instead of the trash. Recycled and nontoxic supplies -- if you could find them -- were much more expensive than conventional picks and weren't made as well. These days, it's easy to find affordable green products and adopt creative, sustainable practices -- and doing so will bolster the bottom line by cutting energy and material needs. According to WasteWise, an EPA program launched to encourage innovative environmental protection, large companies, municipalities, and organizations can save tens of thousands of dollars and prevent millions of pounds of waste every year by adopting more sustainable practices.
With a growing selection of high-quality, green products available at reasonable prices, now is the time to bring your eco-values into the office, whether at home or at work.
Dell OptiPlex GX620 Ultra Small Form Factor
This computer's compact form reduces energy and material needs. Plus, its lead-free design and Dell's take-back program (they'll take your old computer back to recycle the parts) helps limit harmful "e-waste." dell.com
Design Within Reach BeeBoard Desk
Made from layered cardboard topped with a smooth acrylic writing surface, this textured desk has a low environmental impact. Like traditional desks, it's durable enough for long-term use -- but will readily biodegrade when the time finally comes to replace it. dwr.com
Tops Second Nature 100 Percent Recycled Writing Pad
Perfect for notes, messages, and lists, this 5-by-8-inch pad helps you cut back on paper waste.
12 pads, 50 sheets each, officedepot.com
Made by Humans Staple Free Stapler
By cleverly trimming a flap of paper and folding it into a tiny slit, this tool lets you cut metal staples from your supplies list and reduce waste. Effective on up to five sheets at a time. madebyhumans.com
Green Field Paper Company Hemp Heritage Stationery Set
Made from post-consumer recycled paper and hemp, this stationery works beautifully as business letterhead. 12 sheets/10 envelopes, greenfieldpaper.com
Treesmart Newspaper Pencils
With barrels made from tightly rolled newsprint, these graphite and colored pencils sharpen easily and support recycling. 24 No. 2 pencils or 12 mini colored pencils, treesmart.com
Motherboard Grip Clipboard
Defective bare boards (or circuit boards without added electrical components) offer a smooth and sturdy writing surface while helping to divert e-waste from landfills. motherboardgifts.com
Recyclips Recycled Paper Clips
These small clips give new life to metal recycled from old cars, appliances, and mattress springs. They arrive in a box made almost entirely from post-consumer recycled newspapers and corrugated cardboard cartons. 100-clip boxes, greenhome.com
Auspen Refillable Whiteboard Markers
Schools and businesses with high supply volume benefit most from this investment. One refillable pen lasts as long as 40- plus disposables. Xylenefree ink prevents exposure to toxins. Starter kit (six markers, six refills), ecostationery.com
Although 80 percent of the materials in this product (including jewel case and labels) have been either recycled or reclaimed, the disc itself is new. This promises reduced environmental impact without increasing your risk of spyware or viruses by using second-hand software. greendisk.com
Office Depot Inkjet Refill Kit
While growing numbers of "takeback" programs help to minimize cartridge waste, this do-it-yourself refill kit lets you save the energy used in remanufacture. officedepot.com
Save up to $75 on your energy bills annually by limiting computer and monitor idling time. Although power cycling (turning your computer on and off regularly) hindered early models' longevity, modern computers can handle frequent shutdowns without damage.
To save energy, enable your computer's low-power sleep mode for brief periods of inactivity (about 15 minutes) and shut down entirely for longer stretches, such as nights and weekends. For more info, go to energystar.gov (search for "power management").
Conserve resources and cut paper costs by up to 50 percent by using every sheet twice. If your printer allows it, enable two-sided printing. Otherwise, collect clean, one-sided drafts in a box or basket near your printer and reload them to print rough copies on the blank side. Have more sheets to spare? Group them with a clipboard or butterfly clips to make your own eco-friendly notepad.
Text by Josie Garthwaite; photographs by Karl Juengel