With global warming on the rise, high levels of pollution contaminating our air, and the amount of waste disposal increasing, it’s crucial to recognize Earth’s environmental crisis and find ways to help combat it.

Looking for ways to become a rising star in the workplace? Instead of resorting to convenient ways, provide specific solutions to environmentally-conscious ways of helping the Earth become less vulnerable. Offices in the U.S. use  12.1 trillion sheets of paper a year and about 50 percent of the waste generated by businesses is composed of paper.

In honor of International Earth Day on April 22, 2017, consider suggesting how to implement these Go-Green ideas in your workplace to positively contribute to our planet.

  1. Print When Needed

Only print what is necessary. When printing several pages, use duplex or the double-sided technique. Be sure to reuse non-confidential paper in the office if the document is not ‘for your eyes only.’ Also, verify if the office uses 100% recyclable printing paper. Aim to be a paperless workplace.

  1. Shred

Invest in a shredder. Statistics show that shredding can reduce air pollution by 74%, energy consumption by 64%, and water consumption by 50%. Plus, shredded paper is transformed to create other recycled products and more recycled paper. In our office, we use Fellowes model to shred trade secret, confidential material before it’s placed in a Blue Bin or with other recyclables.

  1. Recycle the Right Way

Locate all the company blue recycle bins, so when you need to dispose of recyclable waste, you’re aware of where the bins are found.  Twenty-five percent (25%) of people don’t recycle because “it’s not accessible or convenient.”

  1. . Dishwasher Etiquette

If your office has a dishwasher, don’t start a load if it’s not at maximum capacity. The average modern dishwasher uses about 6 gallons of water each use. Although you may be rushed to get to a meeting, consider washing your few dishes by hand in an effort to help save water. Additionally, refrain from using disposable  plates and cups. If your office doesn’t provide reusable dishes and cutlery, consider bringing some from home.

  1. Lights Off

Stepping out of your office for lunch or the bathroom? Turn off the lights if they’re not in use in order to save some energy. If your company doesn’t do this already, sensored lights are a great way to reduce energy usage.

  1. Two Heads Carpool Better Than One

Have the same schedule as a colleague? Consider carpooling to reduce air pollution. If you live close to work, riding your bike, or walking will not only benefit the environment, but your physical health as well.

Remember applying the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle – in the workplace can be a real career boost, even though it may seem difficult to accomplish, especially if you work in a fast-paced environment. Once you start reducing, recycling, and using these office-oriented solutions as a social responsibility, you will help solve urgent environmental issues today. Small actions go a long way!


Sharon Schweitzer and Paola Guevara co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.

Paola Guevara is a Spring 2017 Cross-Cultural Communication intern with Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. She’s lived in Mexico, France, and different states throughout the United States, including California, Florida, and Texas. She currently attends St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas studying International Business with a focus in French.  Connect with her via Linkedin.