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Four Ways To Hug A Tree

By Suzanne Martin


Maybe you don’t have time to save a forest or rescue a whale. But, you can still do your part to protect the environment while sitting in your home office swivel chair.

Paying a little attention to what you buy and how you use or dispose of products in your office could make the Earth a better place – and save you some money, too.

Here are four things you can do.

1. Save Energy
When you buy home office computers, printers, copiers and other equipment, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR-labeled equipment uses only about half as much electricity as standard equipment.

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The program reports that in 2003, ENERGY STAR-qualified home office equipment saved Americans more than $3.5 billion in energy costs. Not only that, but the equipment also significantly reduced the demand for energy – enough to prevent the release of 19 billion pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

2. Buy Recycled
The promises of a paperless office have never come true. But the next best thing is the availability of 100-percent recycled paper.

Recycled paper ranges from 100-percent post-consumer content to just 10 percent. To do the most good for the environment, buy the highest post-consumer content you can afford for your needs. For example, the printer paper and business stationery you use might be 100-percent recycled. But the coated paper you use for brochures might be 10-percent recycled.

When buying paper, look for the percentage next to the recycled symbol. Chances are you won’t spend much more for recycled paper than you would for all-virgin paper. And recycled paper products get easier to find every day. You can buy envelopes, day planners, even calendars made of recycled paper.

Remember to promote the fact that you’re doing your part to be environmentally friendly. Give your marketing a little boost by labeling all of your printed materials as “Printed on recycled paper.”

3. Change Your Lights
The EPA reports that if every American home replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an ENERGY STAR compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL), we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.

Now imagine the good you can do by using CFLs throughout your home office.

And you’ll save money, too. ENERGY STAR-qualified CFLs use at least two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent bulbs to provide the same amount of light, and CFLs last up to 10 times longer. You’ll save $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb’s lifetime

4. Final Tree Hugging Tip
Buy remanufactured ink and laser toner for printers and fax machines. Recycle your old toner cartridges. Most large office supply stores now accept toner cartridges for recycling. Many used laser, fax or ink cartridges can be placed back into their original boxes and shipped to the manufacturer for free.

Suzanne Martin is contributing editor of Self-Employed. She uses compact fluorescent light bulbs in her home office.

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