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The WEATHER has been in the news a lot the last few years. More powerful hurricanes... tornadoes in places where they used to be rare...droughts, wildfires, and floods. And let's not forget my favorite brother and sister act, El Nino and La Nina -- wreaking havoc on weather patterns throughout the world. According to the Los Angeles Times, a new report concluded that the rate of the earth's WARMING is occurring much faster than expected. "The next few years are going to be interesting," climatologist Tom Karl told the Times.
WHAT CAN I DO?
While the scientific community debates whether the cause of global warming is man-made or natural, it's a pretty safe bet that our reliance on fossil fuels and other energy sources have not HELPED matters much. As individuals, it's easy to feel as though there isn't a whole lot we can do to help stem the heat. However, as a force of millions of individuals in the United States alone, we do have the power to slow things down a bit. There's nothing really revolutionary in making your office GREEN. There are three things to remember (and they haven't changed in 20 years) -- reduce, recycle and buy Wisely.
REDUCE ENERGY CONSUMPTION
Buy EFFICIENT equipment and turn it OFF when it's not in use, which can save you money while you're helping the environment. The electricity used to run office equipment costs homeowners and businesses $4.85 billion each year.
If you're in the market for a new computer (and it seems like everyone upgrades every few years), think about getting a LAPTOP. Notebook computers use just 10% as much energy as their big, bulky stationary cousins. Prices keep coming down and with the added convenience of portability -- and your productivity can be increased as well.
LOOK FOR THE LOGO
If a notebook is not for you, look for a desktop machine with the ENERGY STAR logo. This means it is among the most energy efficient products on the market (savings of 60-80% over non-compliant models).
KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR OTHER EQUIPMENT
Computer monitors, copiers and fax machines are also big energy hogs. The Energy Star program covers them, too. If your budget can handle it, think of getting a monitor with an ACTIVE MATRIX screen. They consume 20% less energy than standard monitors and they look cool, too. And remember that smaller monitors use up less energy than larger ones.
RETHINK YOUR PAPER USAGE
Buy paper made from RECYCLED content and use the BLANK sides of printed pages in your fax machines, copiers, and printers when making draft copies.
CUT DOWN ON RAW MATERIALS
Buy recycled TONER and ink cartridges, and participate in recycling programs. Some of these programs will pay you for your old cartridges, so you end up saving money on the deal. Also try to use cleaning supplies that are BIODEGRADABLE. Finally (where appropriate) order supplies in bulk or in reusable containers to reduce excess PACKAGING.
HELPING YOUR COMPANY
Greening your home and office not only makes sense, it's good business practice. Recent demographic studies indicate that nearly 50 million people say their social values (whether moral, religious or environmental) influence their everyday purchasing decisions. Socially responsible businesses can play right into this growing desire, while making the world a safer place for generations to come.
Donna Schwartz Mills is the editor of the NOBOSS ParentPreneur Club, an online resource for moms and dads with home-based businesses and those who are thinking of starting a home-based business. She can be reached at .
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