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Top 20 Ways to Go Green at Work (and Save Money!)

Office Depot's three environmental aspirations are to "Buy Green," "Be Green" and "Sell Green."

  • By "Buying Green," we have achieved the widest "green product assortment" in the office products industry - approximately 3,500 products with recycled content, and hundreds more with other environmental benefits.
  • By "Being Green," we have reduced our electricity use by over 20% and saved at least 21,000 tons of waste from landfills.
  • By "Selling Green," we have helped many of our customers reduce the environmental impact of their business.

As part of our 20th Anniversary celebration, Office Depot would like to help our customers "Buy Green," "Be Green" and "Sell Green" as well. Here are our Top 20 ways to Go Green at Work.

1. Go for "Greener Options" in the products you buy.

Customers today can choose from a wide range of high-quality products that are equal in performance to traditional products, but can result in lower waste, fewer chemicals, lower energy use and less material use. Green options also can save you money. For example, Office Depot remanufactured ink and toner cartridges are less expensive than new cartridges; and Energy Star qualified office equipment can save up to 75% in electricity use.

If you are an Office Depot Business Solutions Division customer, please ask your account representative for The Green Book™, our catalog of environmentally preferable products. You also can ask your account representative to suggest green alternatives to your current products. If you are not an Office Depot business customer but would like to see the Green Book™, please click here to request a copy.

For all customers, a simple first step is to visit By typing "recycled" into the search bar you'll find approximately 3,500 products with recycled content.

2. Buy remanufactured ink and toner cartridges.

Office Depot brand remanufactured ink and toner cartridges cost an average of 15% less than national brands and come with a 100% money back quality guarantee. One returned cartridge keeps approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic out of landfills. Remanufacturing one toner cartridge also conserves about a half gallon of oil.

Please click here for Office Depot's remanufactured cartridge assortment.

3. Buy high Post-Consumer Recycled Content (PCR) paper.

In the past, recycled paper may have been of poorer quality than non-recycled. But now, Office Depot recycled papers are just as bright and work just as well in printers and copiers as our non-recycled papers. We know this is true; we use 35% PCR content paper for internal operations.

If you're not convinced, do a test -- try out some PCR paper and see if you can tell the difference. Click here to buy our top-selling EnviroCopy recycled paper containing 35% Post-Consumer Recycled content.

According to Conservatree, in 2004, over 90% of all printing paper contained no recycled content. By buying recycled paper, you are leading the way. If you don't want to pay a small premium for EnviroCopy or other high PCR paper, then consider Office Depot's "Red Top," available here. It contains 10% Post Consumer Recycled content and is one of the least expensive papers on the market.

To see Office Depot's extensive selection of recycled paper products, please click here.

4. Develop a green purchasing policy.

Office Depot has a comprehensive paper purchasing policy. A policy this extensive may be too complex for some businesses, but just purchasing only recycled paper is an excellent start.

Office Depot supports its policy by using 35% post consumer recycled paper as the default paper in all standard black and white printing applications enabling us to reach an average of nearly 30% post consumer recycled paper across all the cut-sheet paper we use.

5. Buy from companies whose supply chain gives you confidence.

With the office product industry's most comprehensive environmental paper purchasing policy, Office Depot can increasingly ensure that the paper you buy from us is from "well-managed forests." We have also partnered with three major science-focused environmental groups to help implement our policy: Conservation International, Nature Serve and The Nature Conservancy. To learn more about our partnership, the Forest & Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, please click here.

6. Use Digital Storage Solutions to cut paper and reduce clutter.

One 100 Megabyte zip drive can store the contents of a four-drawer filing cabinet and one CD-ROM can hold nearly a roomful of paper! It is also more convenient to store disks and CD-ROMs than roomfuls of paper. Click here to see Office Depot's Data Storage products.

7. Buy Energy Star qualified electronic products.

Energy Star computers, printers and other business machines power down when not in use. They can help you conserve up to 75% of your electricity compared to standard models. By automatically switching equipment to "sleep mode" when not in use, Energy Star products saved Americans more than $3.5 Billion in energy costs!

8. Use compact fluorescent bulbs.

Switching from incandescent bulbs to energy-efficient compact fluorescents delivers outstanding efficiency -- up to 75% energy savings for Energy Star qualified lights. That translates into significant cost savings as well as waste avoidance since compact fluorescents can last over 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. These bulbs fit standard fixtures and deliver excellent natural light. Click here to see Office Depot's compact fluorescent assortment.

9. Invest in modular furniture.

Modular components form the core of an environmentally efficient office design. Buying modular furniture helps you mix, match and grow without the need to reinvest in an entirely new look simplifying future purchasing decisions and reducing waste. You can see some of our modular furniture products here.

10. Use power strips to turn technology off when not in use.

Up to 75% of the electricity used to power office equipment may be consumed while the products are turned off! The simplest way to avoid this waste is to plug office equipment into a power strip that can be shut off each day. Click here to buy one of Office Depot's Power Strips, and start saving energy and money.

11. Recycle your empty ink and toner cartridges.

In 2005, over 50% of all ink and toner cartridges were sent to landfills in the U.S. But it's simple to recycle. You may get money back on certain eligible cartridges at Office Depot stores, and we will also send FREE ink jet and toner cartridge recycling boxes to individual or organizations. Click here for ink jet boxes and here for toner boxes.

You can also order the boxes by calling 1-800-GO-DEPOT and asking for item number 816-656 for ink cartridges and 824-712 for toner cartridges. Just place your empty cartridges in the prepaid box and return it for a simple way to reduce waste and save energy!

12. Recycle your office paper.

Only about 50% of all the paper used in North America is recycled. And there is a growing shortage of paper available for recycled products as Asian countries demand more recovered fiber. Consider starting a paper recycling program at your office.. Check your phone directory to find paper recycling companies in your area.

13. Recycle other materials in your office.

A high proportion of materials sent to landfills from most offices can easily be reused or recycled. At Office Depot, we recycle plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, cardboard, computers and cell phones. Check your phone directory for local recycling providers and help reduce the pressure on our overflowing landfills.

14. Donate unwanted products and furniture.

In 2005, Office Depot donated over $43 million worth of office supplies to charity through various programs, including a partnership with Gifts In Kind International. For major businesses, signing up with Gifts In Kind is straightforward and helps you reduce waste and help your community! Visit Gifts In Kind International's web site here to find a better use for your end-of-life products.

If a formal program with Gifts In Kind isn't feasible for you, check with local charities. Many will be only too happy to take products that you can no longer use.

15. Use daylight rather than office lighting whenever feasible.

Artificial lighting consumes some 40% of electricity in a typical office building, and close to one-fourth of all electricity generation in the U.S. In fact, lighting consumes the equivalent of nearly half of all coal burned in the U.S., or the equivalent of all the hydroelectric power in the country! The simple act of moving your desk towards a window helps cut down electricity use -- saving money and the environment.

If natural light is not an option, consider buying compact fluorescent light bulbs here to reduce energy use.

16. Turn lights off when leaving your office or conference room.

Walk around any office building and you are almost guaranteed to see lights left on in empty offices.. One 100 watt light bulb left on for one hour every day consumes 36.5 kilowatt hours of energy per year. Multiply that by the millions of lights left on every day, and it's obvious that a simple way to reduce energy dependency is to simply turn lights off when they are not needed!

17. Buy Renewable Energy Credits to "offset" your energy use.

Global warming or "climate change" is one of the most significant environmental issues today and in the future. Global warming is caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are emitted when fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, oil, gasoline and kerosene are burned.

Energy generated from renewable sources (such as wind, solar or geothermal) has much lower greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels. By buying Renewable Energy Credits, you can effectively offset some or all of the carbon dioxide your organization emits. In 2006, Office Depot worked with its energy management company to buy 76,000 Megawatts of renewable energy. This is equivalent to over 12% of our annual electricity use in that year.

Speak to your local utility or energy management company to find out how to offset your company's carbon dioxide emissions. You also can click here to learn about Terrapass, one of North America's leaders in carbon offsetting. Terrapass is just one of many organizations, such as Conservation International, that also allow individuals to calculate and offset their personal emissions.

18. Help customers identify the environmentally preferable options across your product range.

Most companies that sell products tend to have a green continuum, i.e., some products that are greener than others. In many cases, a lack of information prevents customers from choosing green options vs. traditional products. Identifying the greener options in your product range can help you win loyalty among your customer base, find new green customers, and help reduce your organization's environmental impact.

19. Give reusable mugs instead of other promotional items to customers and prospects.

If one of your customers or prospects buys three cups of coffee every workday for one year - that represents over 600 coffee cups that have ended up in the trash! Help replace that waste by choosing reusable coffee mugs for your promotional giveaways. Mugs also tend to be kept and used regularly by recipients.

Click here to see Office Depot's promotional mug assortment and effectively advertise your business while "selling green" to your customers.

20. Remember, it all starts with you. Please spread the word.

If more people "Go for the Green Option" in their daily worklife, the positive benefits will multiply. Start by making more personal decisions with the environment in mind. Then help increase awareness by spreading the word to your colleagues, teams, bosses, suppliers and customers. It all adds up!

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