In honor of Earth Day 2009, here are five easy tips for making your business more eco-friendly.

Use Refurbished and Recycled Products

Choose refurbished and recycled products when buying office supplies.  There are ever increasing options including: paper, folders, pens, pencils, paper clips, office organizers, as well as office furniture and electronics.

One easy way to save money on office supplies while going green is to buy refilled or refurbished printer and copy machine cartridges.  Recycled cartridges are sold on numerous online shops.  Stores such as Office Max and Walgreens provide their own refurbishing services.  Also look in your local business directory for stores such as Rapid Refill or home based businesses that provide the service as well.

Encourage Recycling

Lead by example and start a recycling program at your business.  Contact your waste management provide to find out what recycling resources they offer.  Decide on the types of materials you will recycle.  Place the recycling bins in an easily accessible space and clearly label them.  Finally, let your employees know the recycling guidelines and periodically reinforce your recycling goals.   Earth 911 has a detailed guide for starting a program

Reduce Waste

There are many ways a business can reduce office waste; however, one easy way is to use reusable products instead of disposable.  Instead of using styrofoam cups and paper plates, transition to inexpensive cups, mugs and dinnerware.  While washing a cup is not as convenient as throwing it in the trash, it can make a huge impact in reducing the waste your office produces.

Go Digital

Many companies have made a concerted effort to migrate much of their record keeping and invoicing to an electronic media.  One of the biggest time savers in my own business was when I finally found the right online billing system.  My invoices go out automatically by email and I only have a handful of clients that I have to mail a hard copy of the invoice.  It saves on paper, postage and time.

Another avenue for cutting down on paper and printing costs is to have a convert your marketing pieces to a digital format.  Some businesses only offer digital versions of their marketing collateral, particularly media kits for online publishers and service menus for professionals.

Another method is to cut back on the amount of printed copies and use the digital version when possible.  We did this for an event that I manage and it allowed us to contain our printing costs while at the same time expanding the types of pieces we distributed.  The majority of the vendor applications, sponsor forms, rate cards, event flyers and brochures were distributed by email.  We printed smaller runs of each of the items to have on hand in the instance where a hard copy was needed.

If you are going to transition to a digital format, it is important to compile the files in an universal format.  For print, that would be a pdf format by Adobe Acrobat.  For multi-media presentations, the most widely used is Flash.

Adobe Acrobat Reader is a free program that allows pdf files to be viewed.  However, in order to create a pdf file, either a pdf print driver or Adobe Acrobat Professional is needed.

When you design the marketing piece, you need to decide whether the file will only be distributed digitally or if you also plan to print copies.   Files that will be printed need to be created in a higher resolution and set-up to the printer’s specifications for that document type.

If the piece will only be available digitally, there is more flexibility in the document size.  A growing trend is to create pieces in a customized landscape orientation to be more easily viewed on a computer monitor.

Also remember that if the piece will be printed, you will need to have a print version and an email version.  The email version will be a lower resolution and a much smaller file size.


In today’s online connected world of email, network servers, and online meetings, many businesses are finding it less necessary for all of their employees to be sitting in a chair in the office.

Besides the benefit of increased employee satisfaction, telecommuting and flex work situations also benefit the environment by reducing traffic congestion, fuel consumption, and energy expended at the office.

Flex in the City is an initiative by the City of Houston that encourages businesses to provide at least one flex option that will reduce a commute time.