Not the CEO? Make a Difference Anyway!

Firefighters want more fires, according to a study done by Adam Grant, an organizational psychology doctoral student at the University of Michigan. He believed there is a connection between productivity and job satisfaction, so he took his theory to the field.

Of the 60 firefighters he studied, 10 of them wanted to fight more fires, based on the connection they felt to helping people and having a greater impact on society as a whole. It looks like Grant was onto something.

Ninety-one percent of Earth911 readers polled agreed that taking action, in regards to the environment, is a middle to high priority, and having green options at your workplace would probably lead to increased job satisfaction and in turn, higher productivity. But how do you make a change if you aren’t in your company’s driver seat?

Photo: Amanda Wills,

Office workers in the U.S. generate approximately 2 pounds of paper and paperboard products every day. Photo: Amanda Wills,

Keep It Simple

The best way to go green, regardless of where you are, is to start small. Recycling is not very electrifying, but it moves mountains.

Though this concept seems simple enough, recycling at work can be a bit more complicated, but it’s effective. Paper is a good place to start. The average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year. That’s 4 million tons of copy paper used annually.

Check out our resources below, or for a step-by-step guide that explains how to establish or improve upon an office recycling program, visit or AF&PA’s Office Recycling Guide.

Change Your Habits

The best way to start a change is by being an example. Though it takes an entire village to really get stuff moving, one person can raise the bar for others to meet. Start small, but spread the word:

  • Turn off all unnecessary lights, especially in unused offices and conference rooms, and turn down remaining lighting levels where possible.
  • Set computers, monitors, printers, copiers and other business equipment to their energy-saving feature, and turn them off at the end of the day.
  • Reuse your cardboard boxes to ship packages or move and store items.
  • Print hard copies only when necessary, use a removable stick-on label for your fax cover sheets, and set printers and copiers to print on both sides of paper.

Make It Obvious

In order for changes to spread like wildfire, they need to be obvious and easy. For instance, the Manoa campus at University of Hawaii participated in a project that combined a survey of faculty and staff with a detailed “waste audit.”

It found that when recycling bins were introduced for the first time, the number of empty bottles and cans discarded into the regular trash dropped more than 70 percent. That brought the overall recycle rate of the beverage containers consumed at work to 87 percent. So, through the simple act of accessibility and visibility, a large impact was made. Keep these factors in mind when working on any office eco-project:

  1. Target materials for recycling and assess the waste
  2. Talk to your recycler
  3. Get support
  4. Report back

Learn More

How To Create a Workplace Recycling Program
8 Ways to Green Your Office Supplies
A Green Office Remodel
8 Ways to Green Your Job Search
8 Ways to Green Your Paper Use

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