100 Things You Can Do To Make Your Print Shop More Sustainable

  1. Get certified by the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership.  https://www.sgppartnership.org/
  2. Sign up for an energy audit for your company by your local utility.  Chances are this is a free service.  They can provide you with a comprehensive report on how you can reduce your energy consumption, and tips on improvements.
  3. Form a Sustainability Committee within your company.  Have a variety of participants from different departments form the nucleus of the group.  There should be at least one person from accounting, management, HR, production, and at least one production line worker.  The committee should meet at least once a quarter.
  4. The Sustainability Committee should write the company Sustainability Mission Statement.  This statement should be promoted and adopted throughout the company, and the company should operate based on the tenets.  This Sustainability Mission Statement should be publically promoted and signed off on by the company president or CEO.
  5. The Sustainability Committee should communicate a “Green Tip” each month to promote awareness and change.
  6. Promote environmental & sustainability awareness by promoting the program in your company’s new hire packet during training with new staff members.
  7. Have upper management discuss the importance of the sustainability program with your staff at least twice a year in a public format.  Stress goal setting, the status of the program currently, upcoming key events, and publically praise top sustainable performers.  Make it fun!!
  8. Create and track all energy consumption and costs on an Excel spreadsheet.  Compare to prior year’s data.  Calculate the bottom line savings to your company.
  9. Communicate company sustainability efforts, goals and results via different methods.  Publish in your company’s newsletter, on your company’s website, or break room bulletin board.
  10. For office copy paper, use only 100% post-consumer recycled fiber paper which are also chlorine free.
  11. Reduce your standard company paper margins in order to decrease the length of the documents printed.  Get more type on that page to reduce the number of pages needed to print anything.
  12. Print or copy on both sides of a page whenever possible.  Double-siding is set as a common default on all office computers and copiers.  Place a sign above the copier as a reminder to use double sided printing.
  13. Save paper when printing and copying by reusing paper that has been previously printed on one side.  Keep a scrap paper pile near your printer or copier for this purpose.
  14. Paper that has been printed one side can also be made into a scratch pad by applying glue to one edge.
  15. If your company publishes a newsletter offer an electronic version that readers can select instead of a printed one.
  16. For paper printing with outside vendors, ensure that the paper is at least 50% recycled content and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – http://www.fsc.org/.  If available, try to use vegetable based inks.  Have the print design incorporate as few varnishes and coatings as possible.
  17. Try to not print the paper at all.  You can post forms, spreadsheets and other types of documents online via Google Docs.  For more info: https://docs.google.com/demo/edit?id=scAC2hapAPOr84wH9cKHwcxYA&dt=spreadsheet#spreadsheet
  18. All new appliances or electronic equipment must be Energy Star or EPEAT Certified models.  http://www.energystar.gov/ or http://www.epeat.net/.
  19. Check before purchasing any new office furniture that a pre-owned source isn’t available.
  20. If you need to dispose of old furniture or equipment, try to find a good second home for it before throwing it away.  Donate it to a local charity; sell it on Craig’s list, etc.
  21. Keep doors closed if possible.  Opening and closing doors adds to the overall energy consumption of an internal business environment.  Install automatic door closers, and also small door signs that could read “Meeting in Progress” on one side and “Conference Room Open” on the other.
  22. Switch to using environmentally preferable cleaning supplies, dishwashing soap and other products.
  23. Switch to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFL’s) or LED bulbs in all desk lamps and appropriate lighting.
  24. Switch to using rechargeable batteries for devices that use batteries.  If possible use a solar powered charger.
  25. All office, break-room, bathroom or kitchen supplies are verified to have at least 50% recycled content.  This includes envelopes, post-it notes, and copy paper.
  26. Eliminate paper towels in the break-rooms and bathrooms by installing an air-blade instead.  Dyson’s airblades are extremely energy efficient, can operate without touching the equipment, and doesn’t produce any solid waste like using a paper towel can.  For more information:  www.dysonairblade.com
  27. At least once a month, have staff members “donate” reusable office supplies back to the office supply closet.  The list of the supplies includes everything that accumulates during the normal workday: folders, paper clips, pens, highlighters, binders, etc.
  28. Try e-mailing customer invoices instead of printing and mailing them using postage.  Examine your yearly postage, paper, envelope, and stationary expenditure.  If you e-mailed the invoices calculate your yearly savings.  Chances are, it’s thousands of dollars.  Encourage electronic payment.
  29. Position recycling station bins throughout your company at key areas.  Near the mail station, copier/fax, break-room and workstations.
  30. Recycling reminder signs are posted throughout the company, and always near the recycling station bins.
  31. Sensitive paper documents can be shredded and then recycled.  There are bulk commercial shredder companies that can assist you with developing a program.
  32. Have at least one recycling bin dedicated to small electronics such as CFLs, CDs, audio tapes, batteries, cell phones, pagers, PDAs, and inkjet printer cartridges. This collection area has been publicized and signs exist explaining what can be recycled here.
  33. Another recycling bin should be dedicated to large electronics such as computers, laptops, printers, monitors and old office phones.  This collection area has been publicized and signs exist explaining what can be recycled here.
  34. Before purchasing a new computer, have a professional determine if the unit could just be upgraded instead.
  35. Some inkjet toner cartridges can be recycled by sending them back to the manufacturer, and some can be recycled via your office supply vendor.  Set up your program for this function and have a key point person assigned to the task.  This usually is your office manager.
  36. Microwaves, coffee makers and other small appliances are unplugged at night or are programmed to shut off via a timer.
  37. Eliminate the purchase of Styrofoam or paper cups for coffee and drinks.  Have staff members bring their own coffee mugs and drink ware to use at the office.  Provide a set of coffee mugs and drink ware for guests.
  38. Encourage your staff to bring lunches or meals to work in reusable containers instead of plastic storage bags.  Many companies provide a meal bags, coffee mugs and other branded food storage items as an incentive to their staff.
  39. For events and meetings avoid the use of purchasing boxed lunches or meals.  Plan the catering to include the least amount of packaging possible.
  40. Encourage the use of using aluminum or stainless steel water bottles throughout your company in order to reduce plastic bottle and cup waste.
  41. Reduce waste in the break-room by providing bulk containers of salt, sugar, sweetener, & condiments instead of individual packets.
  42. Make a supply of reuseable tote bags available in your break-room for supply trips and for employee use.  This could be a branding opportunity for your company’s program.
  43. Transition to using motion & noise sensor light switches in all public spaces within your company.  This includes meeting rooms, break rooms, storage areas and bathrooms.
  44. Replace your bottled water service or reverse osmosis water treatment system with a charcoal or other simple water filtration system, or switch to tap water.
  45. Move thermostats to public areas, set them and lock them so only key personnel can adjust them.  Set temperatures and fan speed to appropriate levels during the cooling and heating seasons.
  46. If you don’t already have one, install an Energy Star rated programmable thermostats throughout your building.  Set the thermostats to the best temperatures for average use, and lock them down with a key code that is in limited circulation to prevent unauthorized changes.
  47. Have your HVAC unit serviced regularly inspected and maintained.  Change filters according to schedule.
  48. During cold or hot weather, all windows (including storm windows) are closed tightly.  At night the blinds are closed to retain the temperature.
  49. Install an awning system to help control your energy consumption.  Studies have shown that installing an awning on the South facing window can reduce solar heat gain by 65%, for a West facing window it’s a 77% reduction.
  50. Installing blinds in windows can help as well.  Vertical or horizontal either way is great, but these are more effective at preventing summer heat gain, then winter heat loss.
  51. Inspect and caulk all windows as needed.  Put this on your yearly checklist.  Inefficient windows can be responsible for 50% of energy loss.
  52. Turn off your monitors and/or manually send your computers into energy saving modes (hibernate or standby) when not in use and be sure to turn them off at night.
  53. As a good back up, adjust your power management settings on your computer to save the most energy based on your usage and work habits.  If changing these setting requires administrative rights, contact your IT support for assistance.
  54. Encourage the use of sleep mode for all copiers, fax machines and printers after five minutes of inactivity.
  55. Have your IT department use the EZ GPO feature to determine the best energy settings for networked computers.  For more information: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=power_mgt.pr_power_mgt_ez_gpo
  56. Another option is to purchase and install electricity usage meters.  These run between $15 – $100 each depending on the manufacturer and options.  A great way to determine the actual cost of running an appliance or some equipment.  You can then calculate an estimated yearly cost of the device and see if it’s time to upgrade the item.  For more information:  www.powermeterstore.com or www.powercostmonitor.com.
  57. Invest in technology.  Many newer office copiers have some new features that may help decrease the need to actually print paper.  Try using “Fax to File”, “Fax Forwarding”, and “Print to Mailbox” features to get the information sent without having to print a document.  Chances are most people are going to just read it and file it away anyway, so this is a good option to explore.  Examine the cost savings by eliminating printing paper, physical storage, and other labor to help offset new technology costs.
  58. Set reminders on your computer to send e-mails to your staff before any holidays, weekends or breaks to implement an energy saving checklist before leaving their work area.
  59. Complete a workflow study regarding using networked printers or other electronic devices within your facility to reduce the amount of items simultaneously running.
  60. Use power strips as central turn-off points for individual work stations and switch them off each night.  Occasionally audit the office and complete a checklist to ensure compliance.
  61. If you have more than one air compressor, stagger their start up times to fifteen minute intervals to avoid a daily energy spike.  This won’t save any more electricity than just starting them all at once; but it will reduce your overall energy costs as it will keep your usage to more stable levels.
  62. Maintain all equipment to manufacturer’s specs, and perform regular preventative maintenance.  Keep a log book and record all work performed on each piece of equipment.  Keep equipment clean and ready to work.
  63. Use a pest control company that utilizes eco-conscious and safe chemicals.
  64. Be receptive to new ideas.  Have a suggestion box, or an open forum where staff members can contribute their ideas.
  65. Consider changing your product to offer a greener solution.  Using organic, recycled, or local materials can help reduce the environmental impact of a product, but still maintain profitability and margin.  Think of ways you can change your product line.
  66. Recycle your shipping pallets.  For more information: http://www.ehow.com/how_4887638_recycle-wood-pallets.html
  67. Always think three things : Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  68. Calculate your company’s carbon footprint.  http://www.carbonfootprint.com/
  69. Institute a carbon offset program after you’ve measured your company’s carbon.  www.climatetrust.org
  70. Contact your vendors about the amount of catalogs and publications sent to your company.  If possible, try to use an online version instead of printed.
  71. Save and reuse cardboard boxes instead of purchasing new.
  72. Save and reuse all packing peanuts, bubble wrap or other type of packing materials instead of purchasing new.
  73. Encourage the use of office car-pooling.  Have a sign-up sheet available, and possibly some type of extra benefit as an incentive such as preferred parking spaces.  There also could be a quarterly “car-pool” lunch paid for by the company, gas card, or other tangible item.
  74. Encourage alternative transportation by installing bike racks for staff.  Encourage this use by offering per mile credits for donations to charity for employees that bike to work.  (Or walk!!)
  75. Purchase hybrid or energy efficient vehicles for delivery and company use.   For more information:  http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/Index.do;jsessionid=8230d473e1a4604b517e
  76. Use online tools such as Skype, GoToMeeting, or other services to avoid business travel to complete your client conferencing.
  77. Consider having your staff telecommute instead of coming into the office.  Chances are there are only some portions of your staff’s work that is critical that they are in the building.  Most staff work at their desk or cubicle.  Do some research and see if this is a viable option for your company.  For more information: http://templates.haleymail.com/content/1087916372.pdf
  78. When planning work related travel, consult websites to explore greener transportation options via PlanetTran (taxis), and ZipCar (car rental), or rent hybrid vehicles.  For hotels, look for certifications for Energy Star Label for Hospitality, LEED, a membership in the Green Hotels Association, or EcoRoom.
  79. Inspire other companies around your area by publically discussing your program at Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Park Association, Small Business Roundtable, or other meetings.  Be a mentor to another company starting their sustainability program.
  80. Use bioremediation technology for cleaning squeegees, floodbars and other stuff around the shop.  For more information: http://www.chemfree.com/ – they have a 30 day free trial.
  81. Keep a preferred list of vendors that make good environmentally sound choices, use hybrid or energy efficient vehicles, or carbon footprint reducing measures.  Ask questions we negotiating with outside vendors and encourage sustainable behavior by doing business with other companies that have a public sustainability policy.
  82. For any new construction or remodeling, use a LEED accredited contractor.  http://www.usgbc.org
  83. Install Solar Panels for your building.  There are some tax benefits and other savings.  Here are some websites that offer more information: http://energytaxincentives.org/business/renewables.php, http://www.kyocerasolar.com/, http://www.uni-solar.com
  84. Install Small Scale Wind Turbine for your building.  www.awea.org
  85. Capture and reuse storm water for irrigation.  Install rain barrels or cisterns at the end of gutter downspouts.  Here’s a link for low impact surface water information: http://www.lowimpactliving.com/providers/category/26
  86. Check and maintain all faucets, sinks, toilets and other items to ensure that your facility is handling water correctly without any system leaks.  Make repairs as necessary.
  87. If you have a hot water heater, make sure it’s properly insulated with a water heater jacket.
  88. Check to see if your building has proper insulation during your energy audit.  This could possibly help reduce your energy consumption.  If you need to add insulation, ensure you are using insulation with a high recycled content.  Depending on the type of insulation you purchase, some have up to 100% recycled content (Plastic Non-Woven Batt).  Rock-Wool & Cellulose Loose Fill & Spray have up to 75% recycled content.  Fiberglass can be up to 25% recovered glass cullet.  Bio-based insulation is also available: http://www.biobased.net/
  89. Consider painting your metal building roof with reflective white coating to reduce the solar heat gain.  For more information: http://www.roofcoatings.org/wcc.html
  90. Look into installing or building a daylighting system for your building.  Daylighting is the practice of placing windows or other transparent media and reflective surfaces so that during the day interior rooms are illuminated without the use of conventional lighting.  For more information: http://www.solatube.com/
  91. Consider having more office plants around.  Not only do they look great, but some have some valuable characteristics:  Rubber & corn plants are well known for removing indoor air pollutants; English Ivy is not only easy to grow, but it helps eliminate mold.
  92. For that matter, look into installing a green roof system.  A green roof system is a roof structure that is partially or completely covered with soil and vegetation.  This won’t be for everybody as the roof needs to be able to support the weight.  Green roofs are great, because they provide energy savings (both heating and cooling), water runoff reduction, increased roof lifespan, aesthetic improvements, as well as other environmental benefits.  For more information:  http://www.hanging-gardens.com/
  93. Change your vending machine program to new technology.  Make sure your vendor replaces older machines with newer, more modern units.  These should have smart “Vend-Miser” technology that reduce electrical drain.  These machines can also be supported with motion sensors in the breakroom to power down when nobody is around.  Remove the front light bulbs upon installation in the building.   You can still select anything offered, but the lighting doesn’t need to be on for that task.  Many newer machines also support wireless technology.  The machines can report to the vendor what supplies are needed for refilling.  Studies have shown that this technology can save 10% per year on energy consumed to fill the machines.  For more information: http://www.vendingmiserstore.com/
  94. Consider donating to environmental non-profit organizations.  www.greatnonprofits.org, www.nrdc.org, www.nature.org, www.envirolink.org
  95. Have your company participate in an annual community environmental clean-up.  Whether it’s picking up trash on the side of the road, repurposing an area, or help with a local area nature park, this could be a fun and productive event for your company.  Have your staff take suggestions and vote on what needs to be accomplished in your area.  Don’t forget to document and publicize your efforts!
  96. If your company is investing any cash in the market, consider investing in a green company.  For more information: www.socialinvest.org.
  97. Consider adding a sustainable investing option to your 401k plan.  For more information: www.401k.com.
  98. Report on your sustainability efforts by hiring or outsourcing the task to a Chief Sustainability Officer.  This position should maximize resource benefits by increasing cost efficiencies with regard to managing energy consumption and resource waste.  Triple bottom line reporting is a great way to generate revenue and increase funding potential.  For more information:  www.corporatekindness.org.
  99. Sell or donate misprinted, defective or problem garments to organizations that can put them to good use.  For more information:  http://www.worldvision.org, http://www.military.com/benefits/resources/support-our-troops, www.redcross.org, or your local homeless shelter.
  100. Contact me at matkinson4804@gmail.com and let me help you build your sustainability program.  I’d love to help you get on the right track!


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