By Tania Longeau
Going green is more than a trend. It’s a way of life that can have a huge impact on the world in which we live. Whether you own your own business and want to reduce your company’s ecological impact or you are just trying to reduce your own impact while you are at work, buying eco-friendly office supplies can make a big difference. Green office supplies are widely available, and they are excellent alternatives to traditional products.
While many offices implement recycling programs in order to cut down on waste, some waste is unavoidable. It’s virtually impossible for an office to never use paper, printer ink, folders, etc. When you do need to use those products, using ones that are environmentally friendly is a good way to reduce the ecological impact.
Here are a few tips on buying eco-friendly office supplies.
When shopping for copy paper, look for an option that is made using a large percentage of recycled materials. Paper made from 100% post-consumer fiber is a good choice. Also, look for paper that is chlorine-free and made from renewable resources. When you buy unbleached paper made from post-consumer fiber, it probably won’t be as bright white as the other options on the shelf. However, recycled copy paper reduces energy consumption and solid waste and produces less greenhouse gas emissions when it is made.
There are eco-friendly versions of the other paper products your office needs as well. Whether you are shopping for file folders, envelopes, or any other paper product, look for one that is made from recycled materials. You can also look for products that are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified. They tend to be more expensive, but, when you buy FSC-Certified office supplies, you can rest assured knowingthat they were manufactured using sustainable methods and practices.
If you are in the market for a new printer, look for one that is Energy Star certified and made from recycled components. HP printers are a good choicebecause the company is committed to reducing its environmental impact and designing printers and inks that are eco-friendly.
Printer Ink and Toner
No matter what type of printer your business uses, you will need to replace the ink or toner regularly. Unfortunately, all those cartridges can have a huge impact on the environment. Each day, more than a million cartridges are thrown in the trash. That’s 11 every single second. Instead of throwing away your empties, recycle them. There are programs where you could even earn a few cents back for your business by sending them in for recycling.
When you are in the market for replacement ink cartridges, shop for recycled or remanufactured options. Recycling keeps millions of empty cartridges out of landfills and ensures that the inks contained within do not seep out into the soil. Recycling also uses less energy and requires fewer raw materials than manufacturing new cartridges.
There is a lot of misinformation saying that recycled and remanufactured cartridges aren’t as good as their OEM counterparts. In reality, though, as long as you buy from a trusted seller, your recycled cartridges will deliver the same quality as a name-brand one. And, if it doesn’t, most reputable businesses stand behind their products and do whatever it takes to make it right.
When stocking up on pens, look for ones that are biodegradable. While most pens are made from plastic and take hundreds of years to break down in landfills, biodegradable ones disintegrate quickly. They can be made from cornstarch or a potato-based bio-plastic. The bio-plastic ones are the best, and they tend to come in packaging that is made from recycled paper and printed with vegetable inks.
Does your company hand out pens to customers? Customizable biodegradable pens are available, too. This is a great option for ensuring that your giveaway items don’t end up cluttering up landfills while making a great impression on current and prospective customers.
While not an “office supply” product in the traditional sense, most offices go through a lot of trash bags. When you send out your garbage in a regular plastic bag, it can take centuries for that bag to break down. By making the switch to compostable or biodegradable trash bags, however, you can limit the amount of plastic that you are sending to the landfill. It’s also smart to look for bags that are made using post-consumer recycled materials. After all, is there really any need for a trash bag made from brand-new plastic? We don’t think so.
Ditch the old-fashioned staplers and switch to a staple-free model. This unique product eliminates the need for metal staples that are used a single time and then discarded. You may have never given much thought to traditional staples because they are so tiny, but more than a billion tons of steel are used to make them each year. Yes, a billion. The raw materials to make that steel needs to be extracted from the earth, refined, and then shipped to a factory where it can be turned into staples. In other words, those little staples have a huge impact on the environment.
Staple-free staples work kind of like hole punches. Rather than relying on metal fasteners, they use the paper itself to secure the pages together. They are easy to use and instantly bind multiple pages together without the need for a fastener of any type. These handy little products cost no more than regular staplers, and you’ll never have to spend money on staples again.
Buying eco-friendly office supplies is a great way to reduce your own or your company’s environmental impact. Whether you shop online or you prefer to buy your supplies in store, spend some time looking around to find options that are designed and manufactured with eco-friendliness in mind. Some may cost a bit more upfront, but the decreased environmental impact is well worth the investment.
Tania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkJet Superstore. Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining InkJet Superstore, Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. She is a happily married mother of one who enjoys spending time with her family and reading in her leisure hours.