By Toby Somerville

Are you a “green” employee?

By Toby Somerville

There is plenty of talk about how people want to work for environmentally sound businesses and how people are being more environmentally caring at home. However, there is evidence that those same people may not be doing the “right thing” at work. Are you that person?

I have compiled a short list of questions to find out:

  • Do you switch off your computer when you finish work?
  • Do you use a mug rather than disposable cups?
  • Do you print out your emails?
  • Do you use public transport or walk/cycle to work?
  • Do you recycle any garbage/rubbish you create at work? (I’m not talking about the standard of your work!)
  • If you are the last to leave, do you make sure all unnecessary lights and equipment are switched off?

How well did you do?

  • Pretty well, personally.

    I was very happy with Team SitePoint today — there were more bicycles in the basement (11) than there was spaces in the bike rack (10). And it was a rainy day — go team!

  • Let’s see:

    I use a laptop at work, and I rarely switch it off, I prefer to suspend to ram; my desktop computer at home woubles as a web server, so switching off is “no can do”
    always use a mug, disposables have nothing on my penguin-imprinted mug :D
    never print emails
    I sometimes cycle (~8km), but there are very few dedicated cycling lanes here, and the air is sometimes unbreathable due to dust and smoke; not exactly my idea of “healthy”. So most of the time it is walk ~1km, subway (read news on the internet, can’t do that while driving or cycling), walk another ~1km, listen to music the whole time (can’t do that while cycling, hearing is way too important while cycling in busy traffic).
    we don’t have selective garbage collecting, if that’s what you ask… other than that, I usually reuse supermarket plastic bags as garbage bags.
    I rarely am the last to leave, but yes, I do switch off the lights, just like everyone else.

    It appears that I am mostly green, without even trying too hard… about the only thing I do for other reasons than efficiency is the garbage bag thing.

  • When I used to work corporate security I used to get very annoyed at the amount of cubicle lights, radios, fans, and computer monitors that stayed on overnight and over long three day weekends.

  • Tijs

    Sadly the mug, staple of eco friendly people everywhere, is actually less friendly than disposable cups. A mug needs a big oven and lots of heat to be made and, more importantly, it needs regular washing up. you would need to use more than a few hundred thousand disposable cups to counter that research suggests.

  • c-low

    Tijs, I have a second-hand mug/thermos and I rarely wash it (only rinse).

    So, I’m good on most of them except recycling, I can’t believe my building doesn’t collect recyclables! Sometimes I’ll bring cans home and recycle from there, though.

    Do people really print emails?

  • Not Conservative

    “Green”? Eco-friendly? What a joke and a waste of a post. Is suppose you think the world going to become a “Great Ball of Fire!”

  • …talking of wasted posts… :rolleyes:

    * Do you switch off your computer when you finish work?

    Yep, work on a laptop and move around quite a bit, so off fairly regularly.

    * Do you use a mug rather than disposable cups?


    * Do you print out your emails?

    Never (unless they are receipts.

    * Do you use public transport or walk/cycle to work?

    * Do you recycle any garbage/rubbish you create at work? (I’m not talking about the
    standard of your work!)

    * If you are the last to leave, do you make sure all unnecessary lights and equipment are switched off?


  • carlosbernal

    Are you kidding me?

    This whole save the planet thing is just a fad that will be around for another 5 years at which point we will be looking back thinking how did we get duped by this?…Oh Al Gore and the hundred of Government paid scientists looking for a reason to get money grants.

    Let’s be sane, “global warming” is a 15,000 year cycle controlled mostly by solar activity; look also to the warming of our neighboring planets.

    Save paper, gas, energy for the reason your grandma would tell you… to save your pennies! So be green in another cents!…double pun!

  • wwb_99

    Honestly, I never switch any of my principal desktops off. Then again, I tend to VPN and terminal into them from odd places at odd hours, so at least I have a reason to leave them on. And the cleaning crew does not give us back our mugs from the wash, so I use disposable cups. Yeah, I am a bad human being.

  • tjk

    @wwb_99 – You get a cleaning crew!?! Wow! I just do the rinse mug thing.

    Whether it’s a fad or not….being “green” is good no matter what your perspective.

  • I score 5 out of 6. There’s no public transport available from where I live, and 40 km (25 miles) is too far to walk or cycle.

  • carlosbernal

    tjk – My problem with this is that like all fads they are based on something emotional that only lasts a short while. It wasn’t that long ago that we had the Y2K hysteria and there were whole industries created just to “solve” the problem, where are they now? …Oh wait a minute everyone pulled together and we solved it.

    If we do the right thing for more practical reasons then they have lasting power. What you may not know is that money and people’s emotion are driving the “global warming” craze and people want to feel good by doing something about it, hence we are now pushing to become “Y2K Compliant” …I mean “green”.

  • tjk

    carlosbernal – Couldn’t agree more with that post! Lets just hope when the fad passes, people take away a greater respect and responsibility for the environment around them, whether it be for practical reasons or otherwise.

  • Alphafers


    Simple questions but they do make you think.

    I always turned off my computer when I finish work. but how many computers do you have and have you had? that’s hard to answer right?

    I use my own mug but I am also trying to force my coffee provider to use recycle cups to continue doing business with me.

    Who use paper these days?? Layers!!! I hate layers

    I use public transportation every day. I really enjoy my time commuting. I read two books on January using my time on my way to work and back to work. That is not only good for the environment but very productive.

    My company has a good policy for recycling paper but not so good with equipments. Sadly it is not time to say “At least we are doing something”.

    I am not the last one leaving the office. Even if I am. I can’t switch off everything. is not that easy. There must be a reason why computers or other equipments are turned on. It is a good point though, I’ll see what I can do.

  • basia

    I work 10 minutes of walk from my home. I may consider myself as priviledged.
    We use ceramic cups at work and at home, because we are used to do it, because we do not like to carry trash bags everyday, because our thin, delicate skin could be burned with our beloved almost boiling tea or coffee.
    Electricity price in Poland is enough motivation to care to switch off any not used lamp or device, and especially when leaving.
    We are used to print important e-mails, but we do it usually on back side of over-5-years accountancy papers, and when important e-mail is not so important any more it goes into our paper cutting machine and becomes perfect packing material. As alternative, we have paper collecting tank nearby.

    Do I believe in global warming as human activity resulted? Not very much.
    Do I believe in “eco” brands? Rather not.

    Do I believe, there are limited resources of clean water, clean air, fuels, forests, fish, good food? Yes.
    Do I believe, wastes are serious sickness of our “culture” and “civilization”? Yes.

    It has been found long time ago, plastics are the most economical materials to produce. Problem starts afterwards… Well… it hangs and lies everywhere… Lets enjoy it :-{

  • I think reading publications on the web saves on cutting down trees for paper.

    I’m always green.

    But this global warming faze is a HUGE fad to drive consumerism.
    SHEEP. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaa Baaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • Toby Somerville

    @ Not Conservative — “Is suppose you think the world going to become a “Great Ball of Fire!”” – I do actually… in about 5 billion years time, but that’s another story.

    I think being “green” is not just about global warming. Whether you agree or disagree with its likelihood. Being green it is about being careful with the world resources. We all have to live here — for the moment at least — lets try and look after it.

  • Do you use a mug rather than disposable cups?


    Do you print out your emails?


    “Yes” to all other questions.

  • anon

    I print every single email possible including every spam message, doesn’t everyone?

    Seriously, focus on something other than printing email.

  • php_penguin

    I remember hearing about a woman who popped into her office over the weekend to find that the air-con was still on, and being uber-green and right-on she decided to save energy and turn it off.

    On the Monday morning she enters the office to find the whole tech team in a state of panic, as all of the servers had overheated over the weekend, taking down the company website, the intranet, and all of the dumb-terminal computers for the staff to use.

    Being green is good and all, but sometimes there is purpose to keeping things on. Like my computer.

Get the latest in Entrepreneur, once a week, for free.