Going Green: Output

March is a good time to look at your green habits (hopefully you have some to look at!)  And if you don’t, there’s no time like the present.  When you look at being green, there are two parts of the equation … the input and the output.  Input is what you buy – what your products are made of, how much packaging is used, how far away they are shipped from, what resources are used in the production.  Output is what you do with things when you are done with them.  It’s having recycling receptacles for various types of trash, it’s reusing when possible, and it’s giving away what you no longer need in hopes that someone else can use your cast-offs.

It’s been my experience that a lot of companies are deliberate (or try to be) in their purchasing, and are diligent in dividing up their trash, but not always as efficient in giving away as they might be.  Take me, and the company I currently work at, for example.  We have recycling containers for cans, plastic bottles, and used paper.  But other things like plastic stackable inboxes, or bookshelves, or 3-ring binders … well, we tend to just hang on to them in hopes that maybe some day we will use them again.  And maybe we will.  But in the meantime they clutter up our office area, which is already very short on storage space.  This is particularly ironic given that the nonprofit I work at is very big on the concept of “make room for future success by moving out unnecessary remnants of your past.”

But what can you do?  Well, there are always other organizations that could use your extra items.  Other nonprofits.  Schools.  Churches.  Daycares.  There are internet “swap meets” like Freecycle, or the “Free” category on Craigslist, and there are new organizations popping up all over which facilitate accepting donations from companies and distributing them to schools or other worthy causes – like Excess Access in California, Companies to Classrooms in Minnesota, or Gifts In Kind which works all over the world!

From where you are sitting in your office, do a 360 look around you.  What could you recycle, repurpose, or give away for someone else to benefit from?  Many of us de-clutter at our homes.  Take some time to do it at the office, too.  It feels green, and green is good.

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