See More Green at Work to Grow Your Career

Of course you care for the environment. You want to preserve the air and water for future generations. And remember the polar bears. So what you do today to reduce your company’s environmental impact will help save the world.

Did you buy any of that? Maybe just a little. But it’s not enough to get you on board the green bandwagon. You’re looking for something a little more tangible and short term. You’re in luck. There is something in it for you and the polar bears.

Good for the company

There are some serious upsides for our employer if we work out some serious green policies. You start with energy efficiency measures that will cut our expenses. There also is a lot to gain with waste reduction. This is one one those win-win situations. You help the environment and you help the company’s bottom line.

Your green efforts also are worth something in marketing. Many companies will take it too far – greenwashing. But if you’re going to care about the world, you might as well make it into a good ad campaign.

Good for your career

If this is going to help the company, you want to be a part of it and get some of the credit.

This is more than a movement. It’s a committee. All the literature on green business practices advises managers to get the employees involved. After all, we’re the ones who are going to be turning off unused lights and printing on both sides of paper. So we need to be part of the decision making effort. Be proactive and ask to be part of whatever task force or advisory panel that will shape your green policies. Do it before all the seats and glory are gone.

If this does turn into a standing committee, you’re going to be able to network with a lot of people across all departments. And some of them will be heavy hitters – managers looking for new talent. Your career path at this company can go right through this committee.

If it doesn’t turn into a committee and relies mostly on you or a very small group, then that’s glory that won’t get spread around.

How’s your resume look? Sure the paper is made from totally recycled fibers without any harmful chemicals. But being able to brag about involved in green policy making is going to help. Your next employer may be looking for someone with some energy efficiency experience. Or it can be a start of a new career

Where to start

Here are some suggestions:

Talk trash: How much of what goes out can be recycled? The goal is to put less in the trash bin. So find out what your community does with recyclables – cardboard, paper, cans and bottles. The packing materials in items shipped to you can be recycled too. Some centers will pay for recyclables.

Gone organic: How much organic waste do you have? I’m talking about food stuff. Local farmers may want it for compost and be willing to haul it away. Even coffee grounds make good compost. Think about how much coffee your office goes through in a week. Even if you don’t save a lot in trash fees, it’s going to generate some local goodwill.

Pay paperless: Let your vendors bill you online. The fewer bills we receive in the mail, the less paper you have to throw away. If you follow suit, and submit your invoices electronically, you can save money on paper, printing and postage. And do it electronically. Reduce the number of checks you have to write and mail.

Less paper: Going totally paperless isn’t practical. So be careful with what paper you do use. Print on both sides of a page. Use scraps and envelopes as note paper. At The Great Impasta restaurant in Brunswick, servers use the blank sides of old specials printouts to write orders.

Enlightened savings: Start with your light bulbs. Replace burned out bulbs with CFLs. As you convert more bulbs, small savings on the electric bill will add up.

Upgrade: Use more energy efficient appliances and equipment. Everything from microwaves to coffee makers to printers can save you money in energy costs. Newer equipment uses less electricity, and some models are more efficient than others.

Getting warmer: For bigger savings, look at your heating and cooling bills. Check with the local government or utility company for energy efficiency help. They also may offer free energy audits and can show you where to find big savings. Some of the upgrades could qualify for rebates, grants and tax credits.

It’s an investment: These items will cost you more up front. But the energy savings will overtake that investment in the long term. But one thing you can do for free. Make sure everything is really off and unplugged when you end the day. Everything from computers to coffee makers still can use electricity when you aren’t using them.

Keep it all green

Remember you want this to be a win-win-win endeavor. You’re trying to help the environment, the company and your career. The key element is to find and implement practices that save money.

Cubicle Curtis is the guy sitting at the next workstation. He's been in this office longer than anyone else, so he's a valuable resource of who does what and how to get things done. Before this job, he has worked just about every job between pizza delivery and accounting. Now, he's all about getting the job done and helping you figure out how to survive yours.


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