April 24, 2011 — There are many ways to make your chiropractic practice eco-friendly. Here are our suggestions for the top 25 ways to make your chiropractic practice green.
1. Use recycled paper. According to RecycleWorks.org, for every “20 cases of 100% recycled paper saves 17 trees, 390 gallons of oil, 7,000 gallons of water and 4,100 kwh of energy … [and] also eliminates 60 pounds of air-polluting emissions and saves eight cubic feet of landfill space.”
2. Add recycle bins to your office. Recycling is an easy and positive habit to get into. It also shows your patients that you care about the environment.
3. Avoid using heavily-dyed colored paper. The Environmental Defense Fund says that the dyes used in neon and other deep colors “interfere with recycling because of the difficulty in removing such dyes during the recycling process.”
4. Soy-based ink. Contains fewer harmful toxins than petroleum-based ink, printing is brighter (so less ink is needed), supports American crops, and the prices are comparable to regular petroleum-based ink. Right now, it is available for commercial printers only, but make your voice heard and request it at retailers.
5. Make your transportation green. You don’t have to buy a hybrid car to drive green. Consider carpooling, public transportation, biking or even walking to work, if possible. Install a bike rack for your employees and patients. Another way to cut back on carbon dioxide emissions and the high cost of gasoline is to add a picnic table to your property to encourage employees to lunch outside rather than at another location.
6. Green lights. Install compact fluorescent bulbs and motion sensors for lower traffic rooms. Post small, tasteful signs requesting that lights be turned off when a room is not in use.
7. Stop equipment drain. Turn off office equipment when you leave for the evening or activate the sleep mode. Look for products with the Energy Star logo on them when purchasing new items. Turn your computer off when you’re finished; screen savers use energy. According to Jourdan Rassás, “If every U.S. computer and monitor were turned off at night, the nation could shut down eight large power stations and avoid emitting 7 million tons of CO2 every year.”
8. Go electronic. More and more offices are going “paperless,” offering electronic billing statements, newsletters and more.
9. Stop “auto printing.” Do you automatically print every e-mail you receive so you have a “real” copy to refer to? Stop the habit now. View it on your screen and file it electronically.Only print items when it is absolutely necessary. The more you avoid your printer, the more paper and ink you will save. You’ll also save money and the time it takes to organize all those papers.
10. Just the fax – no more cover sheets. When a cover sheet isn’t necessary for privacy purposes, use a stick-on label instead. If you have a scanner, consider scanning documents and e-mailing them rather than using the fax machine.
11. Print on both sides. Set your copier to print on both sides whenever possible. Reuse non-confidential papers as packing materials, scratch paper and coloring sheets for visiting children in your office.
12. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Buy recycled paper and other office products. Repurpose items you find at home or in second-hand shops. Green is the new black!
13. Reset the thermostat. Automatic thermostats allow you to set the temperature inside your office (or home, of course) based on the weather and when you are in or out of the office.
14. Ditch the bottled water. According to the Mother Nature Network, bottled water “produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waster per year … [and] that plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce.” Choose a reusable container instead (reusing disposable plastic bottles can lead to the release of chemicals in the water as the bottles degrade).
16. Use earth-friendly home improvement products. From non-toxic paint to countertops made with repurposed glass, you can make improvements to your home or office with a growing variety of products you can feel good about using. For more information, visit sites like these: Green-Living.com and Ecowise.com.
17. Reduce business travel. When possible, teleconference. If you prefer face-time, try Skype (all you need is your computer, Internet access and a web cam)—it’s free!
18. Encourage your employees to go green. Reward their creative ideas on how to make your office more environmentally friendly. If an employee makes the effort to take the recycling to the recycle center each week or comes up with an idea that saves your office money, pick her up a gift card or grant her a half-day off. Show your staff you appreciate their hard work and efforts!
19. BYOC – Bring your own cup. Rather than spending money on disposable cups, have your staff (and you) bring in cups and mugs from home for water and coffee. Your patients won’t care if your mugs don’t match; in fact, interesting mugs give an office character!
20. Coffee: Make it fair trade. Fair trade goods come from farmers and workers around the world and in developing countries who are fairly compensated. According to GlobalExchange.org, many “agriculture workers in the coffee industry [alone] toil in what can be described as ‘sweatshops in the fields.’ Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt.” If you appreciate a good cup of coffee, share that appreciation by buying fair trade and making sure it truly is a good cup of coffee. For more information on fair trade, visit TransFairUSA.org.
21. Real plants liven up an office. Not only do they look nice and add atmosphere, they add real atmosphere by providing oxygen.
22. Buy local. Whether you’re picking up veggies and snacks for a patient appreciation day or buying office supplies, consider your local business owners and farmers’ markets first.
23. Replace the relics. If your computer (or other equipment) is “ancient,” replace it with more energy-efficient technology. According to eco-writer Shirley Siluk Gregory, an older desktop computer can use up t
o 70% more electricity (and generate more heat waste) than a newer laptop.
24. Connect with other eco-friendly chiropractors. Network with like-minded chiropractors and share your ideas on how to go green.
25. Certify your green practice. Once you’ve gone green, tell the world! Visit GreenBusinessLeague.com to learn how you can certify your business. You can also learn how to get your practice Green Office Certified™ at GreenLine Paper Company.
Source: Palmer College of Chiropractic, www.palmer.edu
- 8 Ways to Green Your Office – by Jourdan Rassás
- Tips for a Greener Office
- The Green Workplace – by Shirley Siluk Gregory