Listen to this Green Air Minute:

Office waste: Is paperless possible?

by The Green A-Team

Whatever happened to the idea of the paperless office?

As soon as CD-Roms replaced library card catalogs, the notion of swapping physical information for the magic of binary code has enticed business owners in every category to “go paperless.”  Those refusing the intangible wizardry have held onto their markers in place of Macs but have been paying for it not only in storage costs, but environmentally.

Alex Szabo, CEO of the

The better we get with technology and the more pervasive things like video conferencing are as opposed to just calling in on a conference call, the more easier that’s gonna be for folks to palette.

The resources to find a happy balance between the old ways and the new are abundant.  Little things like shutting down all your office equipment at night, setting printers to draft mode, and procuring planet-friendly paper may bring your office’s old ways to an acceptable present.

For the full interview with Alex Szabo, click here.

If your office mates are still too stubborn to follow some simple steps toward sustainable office space, check out some of the following links:

Smart Office

Stocking the green office: Sustainable Supplies (

The Sustainable Office

Sustainable office furniture (

Photo by whiskyx.

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Alex Szabo and his green office (dot com)

by The Green A-Team

Q: How did you come to found

A: I founded the company after a few years working in an area generally termed the sustainability consulting field and after working with too many clients who were looking to establish a green purchasing policy but were having a hard time finding a one-stop solution, eventually I set out to form a company that really served as, like I said, a one-stop resource for all of your office greening needs.  So, is focused on providing folks with all of the products they might need to fill their office and source those on line, shipped next day, with all the great prices.  Of course, we add on top of that a variety of services and information that help extend your office greening initiative beyond the purchasing of office products.

Q: What, as far as you can recall, is the real history of the paperless office as a concept?

A: Yeah, sure.  The concept of the paperless office, as far as I’m concerned, was brought about as we all started going online and began to process our information digitally, the notion that we might be able to rely less and less on the paper and pen started to come about.  I think that the notion is fundamentally a good one; perhaps what we’ve seen over the past decade or so is that our historical attachment to paper is going to be harder to break than some originally might have wished.  So the transformation to the paperless office has certainly not happened in a big revolution but we are seeing folks finding more and more ways to store information digitally or online in hard drives and rely less and less on the paper and pen.

Q: Why have companies been so slow to adopt the paperless office idea?

A: I think there are a few reasons why companies have been slow to adopt the mantra of the paperless office.  One is force of habit.  We’ve been using paper for hundreds of years if not thousands and the systems from our educational systems all the way up to the system we use to store valuable and invaluable information have for a long time relied on paper.  One reason is that folks are reticent to kind of go back on that and store all of their information that isn’t as tangible or easily accessible in a crisis perhaps.  I think other reasons are that there are certainly laws out there, in certain arenas, the legal arena would be one of them, where they are required to have physical hard copies and other systems in place in larger organizations will also require hard copies so there’s a variet of reasons.  I also think people like to put their hands on something.  For a variety of those reasons I think we’ve seen the transition a little bit slower than we otherwise might have.

Q: What are the pros and cons associated with digital vs. physical these days given the technology?

A: I think there are clearly a lot of pros for storing, manipulating information on your computer whether it’s using word processing like Word or an Excel sheet, very very powerful tools so there are a lot of pros there.  The cons are again, folks who are concerned about loss of information to a machine they may not fully understand.  Of course, there are risks of having information corrupted and compromised especially when you’re online.  So those are a few pros and cons on the digital space.  Of course, you have similar issues with hard copy.  You may only have one hard copy especially if you’re writing on it by hand, a piece of paper gets wet, the ink smears, it burns up, so there are risks on both sides.  There are risks on both sides and like I said, I think the clear trend is closer and closer to the paperless office but I still there are some vestiges out there that are going to be harder to remove.

Q: I agree.  Now, there are a whole lot of other things that you can do on the procurement side and policies there but what are your thoughts on telecommuting and the elimination of the traditional office environment altogether?  Is that realistic?  Where’s that going?

A: Again, I think technology and the better we get with technology and the more pervasive things like video conferencing are as opposed to just calling in on a conference call, the more easier that’s going to be for folks to palette.  There is a very visceral difference between just talking to someone on the phone, hearing their voice, as we are now, and meeting with them face to face, there’s a lot of information that’s communicated through body language and so forth.  So I think, more and more we can see each other, hear each other better the more immediate it is and easier it is for us to digitally walk into each other’s offices the more that’s gonna become prevalent.  So that’s one thing and then just, again, force of habit; people getting used to working that way, adjusting working styles, and honing communication skills when you’re not necessarily in the same room with them.

Q: What about new innovations?  Have you seen anything come past your desk that’s caught your eye in recent days or months?

A: Yeah, we’re certainly seeing new products that are moving closer and closer towards the ideal that we call cradle to cradle design where you take into account the full life cycle impact of a product and work to reduce any of the negative impacts along the way.  So we’re seeing all sorts of papers moving closer and closer, 100% post consumer recycled paper has been around for a little while now, now paper is being process without the use of chlorine which is a chemical that can be harmful to the environment and tree-free papers where you’re using other agricultural materials, of course printing tools, we’re seeing more and more printers that are more and more energy efficient.  You have printer settings where you can reduce the amount of ink used you can turn it onto fast or draft mode.  One of the coolest things I’ve seen recently is something we’ve been looking for for a while, our customers have been demanding it and we’re finally seeing the market respond, it’s a toner product petroleum free toner product made with a remanufactured ink and toner cartridge, it’s actually a soy-based toner.  So you combine the energy efficient electronics with recycled or tree-free paper and you’re starting to move closer and closer to a very low-impact printing process.  Something that I like to talk about with folks and I used to advise my clients in the sustainability consulting work I did, you start by looking at what are your real needs for printing?  There are basically two cases where people use paper: they print it up on a traditional printing machine or they’re taking notes, they’re writing with a pen.  So look at each of those two cases and ask yourself when is it really necessary that I do this, and there might be some cases where that’s true and just by doing that, you start to eliminate the use of paper alone.  And then, you switch over when you do actually do need to print something out, you go to a system where your using again energy efficient electronics, soy-based printing, using less by setting your software to draft mode, printing on both sides, using recycled and tree-free papers, you can really start to make an impact.

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Listen to this Green Air Minute:

My pet is green!

by The Green A-Team

Has your pet gone green yet?

There are 72 million pet dogs and 82 million pet cats in the United States.  The pet population has an impact just as we do, but the difference is that we’re making the calls as to how we care for them, decisions that can also have strong impact on our health and the environment.

Here’s a few tips for greening up your pet:

1.) Adopt. The shelters are teeming with abandoned pets that are desperate for a home and the cost of adoption is minimal.

2.) Feed them right. Meat byproducts, commodity corn, and chemical fillers in pet food are as bad if not worse for them as they are for us.  Nourish their little bodies with brands that are certified to have the good stuff or make  your own pet food!

and 3.) Compost pet waste. Keep it out of your vegetable garden but it use it your flower beds and lawns for them to come up really strong!

For more ways to green your pet, check out some of the following sites:

How to go green: Pets (Planet Green)

Great Green Pet


Photo by hippolyte photography.

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