"Going Green" is very popular in the mainstream media these days. The need to be energy-efficient has never been more important than right now. There are many magazine articles talking about ways to reduce your carbon footprint; however, usually the focus is in the home.

Painted Wall
Credit: Bert Heymans via Flickr
Don't take this picture literally and paint your office green. I think you get the idea...

But what can we do at work?

Here are 10 practical and efficient ways you can Go Green at work today:

1. Target:  The first thing one must do is identify potential areas where energy can be saved. Some cutting-edge companies install special monitors to measure exactly how much energy each piece of equipment uses. However, if you just take a minute and think about your daily routine at work, you can probably come up with very simple things you can do. An example would be to use the staircase instead of the elevator whenever possible.

2. Turn it off:  Turning off lights, computers and other equipment when they are not being used is probably the easiest thing most people can do to make a difference. How often do you see fully-lit rooms with no people present? How often do you leave your office or work space with office equipment turned on? If you can't turn off your computer, turn off the monitor when you are not using it. Almost two-thirds of the energy used by computers is for the monitor, so try to cut it off whenever possible.

3. Disconnect all Electrical Chargers: When you are not actively charging your cell phone or other appliances, disconnect the charger from the socket. Many people don't know that chargers continue drawing energy as long as they are plugged in.

4. Buy Energy-Efficient Equipment and Appliances: When purchasing new equipment, look for the Energy Saving Recommended logo on products such as light fittings, insulation, glazing and appliances.  Also, check your light bulbs. Low energy light bulbs use less than 20% of the energy of a conventional light bulb, and can last up to 15 times longer.

5. Printer Usage: Use the printer responsibly. Look for energy-efficient print options on your printer. For example, some printers can print both sides of the paper. If you are printing out emails, ensure that you only print the sections that you actually need. Sometimes, it's easier to copy an email on a Word document and then print. In this way, you avoid printing pages of irrelevant data just to get 10 lines of information that you need.

6. Recycle: Ensure your entire office is recycling properly. There should be clearly labeled recycling bins for glass, cans, plastic, cardboard, etc.

7. Check the Refrigerator: Company refrigerators are used and abused by many employees. Make sure the seal on the door is tight and there is no clutter stored on top of the refrigerator. An easy way to test the seal is to place a dollar bill or other piece of paper in the door and close it. If the seal doesn't firmly hold the paper in place, your company frig is wasting energy everyday, all day.

8. Transportation: Try to avoid driving to work in your car alone. Alternative, energy-efficient choices could be carpooling, public transportation, or even walking or riding a bike (good exercise too!).

9. Beverages: Bring your own coffee mug and re-usable water bottle to avoid needlessly throwing away plastic cups and bottles.

10. Be Positive: It's not easy to be energy conscious in today's fast-paced work environment. Remember that everyone must do her/ his part to reduce gas emissions. Encourage co-workers by bringing up related topics such as suggesting your office participate in World Environment Day, which is held annually on June 5th.

Working together with co-workers to implement these 10 easy steps will not only increase awareness of the environment, it will increase camaraderie as well.

So, make the effort to make your workplace a greener, healthier atmosphere starting today!