Your business needs a lot of stuff in order to run – paper, ink, computers, coffee, toilet paper, lightbulbs and the list goes on. But all of this stuff is made from resources of some kind, uses up energy and eventually winds up as waste. If your business is working to become a more sustainable company, that requires you to look at what products you buy and bring into the workspace. This article includes several eco-friendly office products and supplies that will lower your carbon footprint.
The eco-friendly office products mentioned in this article are divided into five common areas of a workplace: Office, Breakroom, Bathroom, Lobby and Outdoors.
The office, the place where hard work happens and great ideas are born. In order to turn ideas into action and action into results, there are numerous tools and supplies that are needed. Here are some eco-friendly office products that you just can’t do without.
Energy Star offers a variety of certified electronics such as computers, monitors, TVs and telephones. Through Energy Star’s product finder, you can review product specifications including special features, power consumption and whether or not it’s on Energy Star’s Most Efficient list.
Energy Star also offers resources for data center efficiency because it takes vast amounts of energy to run networks of computers and store data. Improving data center energy efficiency helps cut down on energy waste, supports cyber security and avoids technical failures, thus creating financial savings and aiding the planet. So, whether you operate your own data center or if you’re linked to an external provider, make sure energy efficiency is being prioritized.
And to keep all your hard working employees comfortable while they conquer the day’s to-do’s, you can invest in an Energy Star certified smart thermostat.
Eco-Friendly Office Supplies
While most companies have converted to digital means of sending and storing information, many businesses still need paper and printing. The Forest Stewardship Council offers certified printing paper with varying weights and sizes, while HP offers an ink cartridge and plastics recycling program. Through their Planet Partners program, roughly 1 million plastic bottles are collected each day and then incorporated into new products. 100% of HP’s original ink cartridges contain 5% – 45% post-consumer or post-industrial recycled plastic.
For your brochure, business cards and signage needs, Greenerprinter offers soy and other vegetable-based inks like linseed, castor, canola and safflower. Soy and vegetable-based inks contain oils, each with its own unique properties, that carry ink pigments. As a green certified business committed to sustainability, Greenerprinter uses only the lowest VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) inks and works to minimize the release of VOCs into the atmosphere.
Printers, scanners, mailing machines – you can find the most energy efficient imaging equipment through Energy Star.
And let’s not forget about the seemingly harmless pen! Jet Pens provides refillable rollerball pens and while they’re much more expensive than your typical Bic pen, the amount of plastic waste and money you save is worth it. Bic has partnered with TerraCycle, however, to offer a Stationary Recycling Program that accepts all brands of empty writing instruments, glue sticks, and flexible packaging. For every collection received, the program awards TerraCycle points which can be redeemed as payment to a non-profit or school.
There are even pencils that can be planted to grow flowers, herbs and vegetables. Sprout offers customizable options for their plantable pencils. What a cool way to show off your company name and commitment to sustainability!
As a place where employees eat, rest and recharge, the breakroom is all about energy. So, it makes sense that breakrooms should be equipped with the latest energy efficient products.
Once again, Energy Star offers the top energy efficient appliances such as water coolers and vending machines. As far as coffee makers and microwaves go, Energy Star only offers them for commercial purposes. There are several smaller coffee machines and microwaves on the market today that have great energy efficiency ratings such as the Cuisinart programmable 12-cup thermal coffee maker with its reusable filter and the GE Profile Series Advantium over-the-range microwave with an LED cooktop light.
And when it comes to buying coffee, the life-giving bean juice that we all love, you should always look for ethical brands with the Fair Trade label. Further, when buying breakroom snacks, source locally from environment-friendly businesses and buy in bulk to cut down on extra trips to the store and commute emissions. If buying locally is not an option, then Thrive Market is a membership-based organic grocery retailer with an affordable price promise, diet personalization (i.e. gluten-free) and carbon neutral shipping on all deliveries. At $5/month and with autoship delivery options, Thrive Market makes purchasing healthy, good-for-you foods easy and affordable.
Next on the list of eco-friendly office products is dishes and cutlery. Buying reusable is always best but it may not always be the practical choice, especially if there’s no access to a sink or washpit. Green Paper Products offers a variety of biodegradable and compostable plates, cups and cutlery as well as party ware for your Employee of the Month celebration. Green Paper Products also provides eco-friendly trash bags of all sizes.
It must be noted that biodegradable and compostable mean different things and that these items cannot simply be tossed into the environment to decompose. Many of these products still require special conditions to break down effectively. It’s best to research a local collection facility that accepts biodegradable and compostable items.
Bathrooms also use their fair share of energy and generate waste. Invest in EPA-approved WaterSense low-flow faucets and toilets, and motion sensor lights to cut down on energy use and conserve water.
Even though it may seem “out of sight, out of mind”, what you flush down drains matters too. Choose Green Seal household cleaners and sanitary paper products. Green Paper Products also offers eco-friendly sanitary products.
Leaf’d, too, has a line of eco-friendly cleaning products.
To prevent unnecessary waste, choose brands that offer product refills like Green Eco Dream whose aluminum hand wash bottles can be mailed in for a refill. Green Eco Dream products are also vegan, non-GMO, palm-oil free and biodegradable.
Impress your partners and visitors when they enter your lobby by incorporating sustainable furniture and materials into the room.
As best practice, look for used furniture from second-hand stores, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. You may even be lucky to find something on Freecycle, a platform where people list free stuff in their local community.
If you have to buy new, then always buy from sustainable, ethical manufacturers such as Inside Weather, a USA-based furniture manufacturer that uses recycled content in their products (e.g. a sofa that upcycles 200 plastic water bottles) and renewable sugar-based packaging. To further support carbon neutrality, Inside Weather only builds by the order to avoid unnecessary waste and participates in the One for One program sponsored by the National Forest Foundation. Inside Weather offers a variety of decor items as well.
Room and Board is another great furniture company when buying new. Room and Board uses sustainably sourced and reclaimed wood, and recycled natural steel, plastic and fabrics in all their products. They also have a hybrid delivery fleet and participate in renovation projects to improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality of buildings.
Plants are also a great addition to a space, both aesthetically pleasing and good for the environment and public health. The NASA Clean Air Study concluded a list of NASA approved indoor plants such as bamboo palms, spider plants, Kimberly Queen ferns, Devil’s Ivy, among others.
Your business also includes your outdoor spaces and maintaining them in a sustainable way has a significant positive impact on the environment. Here are some eco-friendly landscaping products for your business.
First, let’s talk vegetation. Choose native plants, especially those that attract pollinators and support biodiversity. You can even plant trees to serve as natural shade alongside your building and around parking lots and other outdoor spaces. This helps reduce heat radiation that reaches your building’s walls and windows.
If you have a lawn, there are some water-saving grasses like Bermuda, Ryegrass and Bahia that yield both water and cost savings. If you’re considering “rock scaping” and replacing your grassy areas with stones and gravel, then be mindful that this can conserve water but it also creates other issues: rock lawns retain heat, prevent rain water from seeping into the ground to support soil health, and don’t support pollinator populations. Planting drought-resistant, low-maintenance native plants is your best option. To support soil health and ensure only non-toxic compounds are going into the ground, opt for organic mulch and non-synthetic fertilizers.
Lastly, consider water-efficient irrigation systems with the best option being drip irrigation for trees, shrubs and groundcovers. Hire a professional or you can find drip irrigation kits at your local home improvement store.
There are several ways your business can be more sustainable and it can be as simple as what purchases you make. Many of the eco-friendly office products mentioned above can help you achieve specific green goals. Further, many of the products tie into the initiatives included in Green Business Bureau’s green business certification program, meaning your sustainable purchases can help you earn a green business certification and become a standout sustainable company.