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Do Your Part: Green Your Home Office

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By Terri Bennett

home_office_woman(MCT)—When we talk about becoming more “green” at home, we often talk about areas that use a lot of energy, water and other resources such as kitchens and bathrooms. These are certainly high-impact spaces that could easily be made more efficient. But there’s also a lot of potential in your home office. Do Your Part in your workspace to limit waste and save money at the same time.

Paper problems:

Taking a look at your paper trail is the perfect place to start. Pick the right paper products by looking for ones made with the highest amount of recycled post consumer content — that’s the paper you and I recycle. When you can, opt to print on both sides of the paper. If you need to shred sensitive documents, keep that shredded paper to use when sending packages or even for storing items such as fragile holiday decorations or china. For used paper — recycle it! Having a small recycling box under your desk will help make recycling paper a habit.

Turn cartridges into cash:

Every year, hundreds of millions of ink and toner cartridges are used in this country. And 70 percent of those end up in our landfills. Printer cartridges are actually easily refilled and recycled. And, you can also get paid to turn in your old cartridges. There are a number of online sources that will supply a pre-paid shipping label to mail accepted cartridges in exchange for cash. Or you can turn in your used cartridges for recycling at Office Max, Staples and Office Depot and earn a store credit for every accepted cartridge.

Wasted energy wastes money:

A power strip will start saving you money immediately. Office equipment such as computers, printers, charges, and anything with a continuous display actually sip power even when the device is off or done charging. A power strip will allow you to plug all the chargers into one place. Since power strips have a central on/off switch, with the push of a button you can completely cut the power to everything using energy. This ‘phantom power’ adds up to as much as 10 percent of the energy we use at home.

I upgraded — now what?

There comes a time when a computer, hard drive, or printer in your home office will need to be upgraded. The last thing that should happen to your old electronics is to be put in the trash where they can potentially contaminate the earth with heavy metals. If you’re willing to donate these items, Goodwill’s Reconnect program is ideal. The non-profit partners with the Dell computer company to accept any brand of computer equipment. Then, Goodwill either sells or responsibly recycles them. All the money made is used to create job training and employment opportunities in your community.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living,” available at DoYourPart.com.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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