Eco Tips


Top 10 tips for saving money on office supplies

Going green at work is basically about being economical. 
Re-ducing consumption, re-using to avoid wastage, and 
re-cycling old into new. It doesn't have to cost the earth...
in fact greening your workplace could actually save you money.

Here's our top ten tips for saving money on your office consumables.

1. Buy in bulk and save!

Volume discounts apply for most office supplies and cleaning products.
So stock up your supply cupboards with a carton rather than buying
each item individually. For example: 1 x 5 litre bottle is usually
cheaper than 5 x 1 litre bottles. You'll get the same quantity for less and reduce packaging waste too.

You can also save on freight costs by ordering your office supplies in
bulk less frequently rather than multiple smaller deliveries. Sending
three boxes at a time is not triple the price of sending one box.
And because the delivery fee is usually calculated on the cubic size
of the parcel, filling a satchel or carton with products often costs no
more to deliver. The fewer transport deliveries are not only better
for the environment ...but also for your business' bottom line!

2. Replenish your office supplies before you run out

Don't wait until you run out of something and have to do an emergency
dash to the store. You'll save on delivery costs by ordering more... less
frequently. That means knowing your usage patterns, planning ahead
and encouraging your team (and cleaning contractors) to notice when
supplies are starting to run low. Place an order once a month – or even
less often – depending on your needs.

3. Decant your own natural cleaning products

Don't buy pre-diluted cleaning chemicals with single use containers.
Choose concentrated green cleaning products and add your own water.
Re-fill and re-use spray bottles over and over. Reduces packaging waste,
transport related carbon-emissions and saves on delivery costs too.

4. Buy quality remanufactured toner cartridges

Reduce land fill and save up to 30% off the cost of new toner cartridges
with quality, remanufactured, carbon neutral toner cartridges for your
printer or photocopier. Take your old toner cartridges to a recycling
station so they can be reincarnated for their next owner.

5. Choose refillable office stationery

Many stationery products like biros, highlighter pens, white board
markers and correction tapes are available with re-fillable ink or
cartridges. Extend the life of the outer casing by replacing consumable
parts. Naturally, the refills are cheaper to buy than the whole unit –
resulting in savings for your bottom line.

6. Save paper and ink when printing and copying

Use less paper
Remember to spell check your documents before printing to avoid
having to reprint. Set double-sided printing as a default on office
computers to automatically print on both sides of the sheet.
Keep a scrap paper pile near the printer and copier. Create your
own scribble pads to keep by the phone with scrap paper that's
been printed on one side only. Then recycle or shred your discarded
paper as loose packing fill.

Use less ink
Make your ink last longer by changing your computer's printer
settings to “fast-draft” or “black ink” only, and save on the cost
of your printing ink consumables. Most printers have this or a
similar setting to reduce ink usage on documents that don't
require high quality copies. If you’re printing out documents
that only you’ll see, you probably don't need colour ink or
high-picture quality. 

7. Go paperless

Email the office memo rather than passing out paper. Save on
paper, printing and postage costs by distributing newsletters,
brochures, catalogues and price lists electronically. Invoice your
clients by email. Let your scanner become your best friend.
PDF everything! 

8. BYO mug to meetings

Cut back on disposable cups by having everyone bring in a spare
coffee mug. Before a staff meeting, send an email reminding
attendees to bring their own mug or reusable cup if drinks are
to be served. When planning an event where it is not practical
to use re-usable tableware, cups and cutlery, choose compostable
catering supplies instead of plastic ones. 

9. Save on bin liners

Your under-desk bin liners won't need to be changed as frequently
if you dispose of your lunch wrappers, food scraps and drink
containers in a central waste station in your office. Paper recycling
bins don't need bin liners at all. Involve your cleaning contractor
in your waste management solutions to help separate your recyclables
at the source.

10. Reuse and share amongst staff

Why buy new when you can reuse? Designate an area in your stationery
supply cupboard for sharing office supplies (like file folders, binders, etc)
that can be re-used by other staff when one person has finished with them.

Organising the supply cupboard helps, too; you won’t end up investing
in a new box of blue biros only to find the box you ordered last time
hidden under a higgledy-piggledy pile of stationery.

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More tips for greening your workplace

Start a recycling program

Kerbside collection has changed the face of office and household
recycling, making it easier to reduce landfill. Different Councils
may have different regulations about what you can recycle.

Click here to search for a recycling service near you.

Buy recycled

Over 1.5 million tonnes of paper is kept out of landfill every year
by recycling in Australia. However, it's just as important that we
‘buy back’ the new products manufactured from our recycling efforts.

Choosing to order copy paper, stationery, toilet rolls, hand towels,
facial tissues and perforated kitchen roll towel made from 100%
post-consumer waste helps to ‘close the loop’ by providing a
market outlet for materials saved from landfill.

Completing the life cycle of the recycled material reduces our
environmental impact and results in resource, waste, energy and
water savings. Diverting waste paper from landfill reduces our
reliance on new virgin wood fibre from Australian forests.

When we buy imported recycled paper products we are effectively
importing in someone else’s waste. This doesn’t solve the problem
of what to do with our own waste paper, right here in Australia.

Buying Australian made products also reduces transport related
carbon emissions incurred by importing paper, boosts our local
economy and keeps jobs in Australia.

Recycle the cartridges from your printer, fax and copier for free!

Contact Planet Ark for a free collection service
that recycles all your ink jet and toner cartridges and guarantees
zero waste to landfill.

Recycle your old mobile phone

Preserve the environment by keeping your unused mobile phone out
of landfill and recycling it back to reuse.

Mobile Muster is the official industry recycling program, while the 
Aussie Recycling Program provides a solution to help clean up the
environment while at the same time raising much needed funds
for charities.

Paper — treat it like it grows on trees

Paper comprises up to 70 per cent of office waste, with 10,000
A4 sheets used for every Australian worker each year. That’s equal
to 10 million trees.

Green tip: Simple recycling measures can significantly reduce your
waste removal expenses. Set your computer printing default to
double-sided. Print out only what is necessary, and proof read
documents carefully on screen to avoid having to print multiple
copies. Use a paper tray to collect single-sided printed scrap paper
for notes, or reuse it in your photocopier or fax machine. Place a
paper recycling box under each desk, and encourage your team
to transfer the contents into a centrally located recycling bin
when full.

Source: True Green. Authors Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin

Make the switch to 100% recycled office paper

Genuine recycled paper is 100% made from ‘post-consumer’ waste.
This means the paper has been used at least once by consumers,
collected, and reconverted to pulp to make paper again. But check
the fine print because some paper manufacturers call paper
“recycled” even when it uses ‘pre-consumer’ waste — meaning
pulp that never left the factory.

The best paper to buy is bleach-free, 100% post-consumer recycled
paper, because it uses up to 90 per cent less water and half the
energy required to make paper from virgin timber, creates demand
for waste paper that would normally end up in landfill, and no
trees are cut down to make the paper.

Every tonne of paper recycled can save 17 trees.

How white is your paper?

Paper manufacturers use chlorine to bleach paper bright white.
The more chlorine our society uses, the more toxic substances such
as dioxin there are in our water, air, soil, and in our bodies.

When you buy chlorine-free writing and copier paper you're telling
paper manufacturers that you demand safer alternatives. So, choose
recycled paper with a high percentage of ‘post consumer’ waste, and
look for the ECF or TCF symbols to ensure that environmental harm is

ECF (Elemental Chlorine Free) means pulp is bleached without the use
of elemental chlorine gas. Even better, TCF (Totally Chlorine Free)
means pulp is bleached avoiding the use of chlorine at all.

Choose a green printer

Next time you are arranging the printing of your stationery or printing
material, get a comparison quote from a ‘green printer’. You might be
pleasantly surprised to learn how competitive the costs are compared
to traditional, alcohol-based, offset printing.

Look for a printer who uses vegetable-based inks, and can assist you
to choose paper made from sustainable forest fibres or better still,
paper recycled from post-consumer waste.

Australia’s first carbon neutral printerFinsbury Green, has offices
in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Print Together offers a collective green printing service that prints
several customers’ materials together, rather than individually, using
only recycled paper and vegetable based inks.The concept is similar
to car sharing: if several people are going to the same place at the
same time, they can share the cost of the ride, which in turn
lessens the environmental impact of your journey. Based in
Melbourne. Delivers Australia wide.

Switch to green power

Your business can save tonnes of emissions a year, by switching to
renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy.
For further information ask your energy retailer or click here to
locate a green energy provider in your State.

Put your PC to sleep!

Many office computers never get switched off, needlessly consuming
energy overnight and on weekends. A computer left on all day, every
day uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity over a year, producing
more than a tonne of carbon emissions.

Green tip: Save approx. $100 per year off your energy bill for every
computer you switch off at the end of the day. If you are away from
your computer for less than half an hour, put it in sleep mode, which
reduces energy use to about 5% of full operating power. Also next
time you're replacing office computers, remember that laptops and
notebooks use up to 90% less energy than a desktop PC.

Source: True Green. Authors Kim McKay and Jenny Bonnin

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Green cleaning our schools

A healthy school environment supports learning


It's great to see natural cleaning products finally making there way
onto our supermarket shelves. But in Australia we are well behind
the eight ball. Did you know green cleaning in schools has been
mandated by law in several states in the USA?

By the end of 2009 – 10 states, including Connecticut, Illinois and
New York, had already enacted the Green Clean Schools Acts 
requiring, or encouraging, the use of environmentally sensitive
cleaning and maintenance products in schools. The goal of the
bill is to make schools and other public space less toxic and
healthier for kids, teachers and cleaning staff.

The California Air Resources Board has found significant
environmental health concerns in many of California’s classrooms
that stem from the very products used to keep schools clean.
As a result, school children and staff are unnecessarily exposed
to chemicals commonly found in traditional cleaning products
that have been linked to asthma and cancer.

According to the Healthy Schools Campaign, a non-profit that
advocates for healthy school environments, research shows a
clear link between poor indoor air quality, sick students and
teachers, and poor academic and occupational performance.

In some Australian pre-schools and primary schools, children eat
at the same tables they use to do their drawings and school work.
Commercial cleaning contractors may be required to use heavy-duty,
toxic cleaning chemicals to remove texta, crayon and marker ink
from tables – the very same surface our children then eat off!

Staff and parents can be great advocates for change. If you feel
passionately about this topic, you could look into forming a green
clean committee - with your school's endorsement – to research
and encourage the introduction of a green cleaning program.

So what exactly is green cleaning? It's basically about cleaning to
protect human health without harming the environment. The
marketplace is now full of green cleaning products that work
well and are cost-comparable to traditional products.

How do you go about selecting green cleaning chemicals for your
school or workplace? Look out for cleaning products that have been
independently certified by Good Environmental Choice Australia
(GECA). Check out the fine print on the label, or better still contact
the manufacturer to request a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
This document will reveal any nasty chemicals contained in the liquid.

The ideal choice would be Australian-made cleaning products that are
readily biodegradable, as well as septic and sewerage system safe.
They should contain no petrochemicals, phosphates, chlorine, SLS or
SLES, and have no harsh fumes or chemical residues.

If your school is already locked into a commercial agreement with
their cleaning contractor ask if they could investigate switching to
low allergenic, non-toxic and environmentally preferred products.
Or next time your school is revisiting their cleaning contract, ask
that a preference for green cleaning products is incorporated as
part of the tender.

If your existing cleaner is not sure where to start – point them to
the Green Clean Schools website. It's completely free of charge
to log-in and access The Quick and Easy Guide to Green Cleaning
in Schools
. A practical and step-by-step guide for commercial
cleaners endorsed by Steve Askin – International green cleaning
authority and author of the book Green Cleaning for Dummies.

Another great resource is the Cleaning for Asthma Safe Schools
. On this website you'll find The Green Cleaning Toolkit 
and heaps of practical information for introducing a green cleaning
program at your school.

Although starting a green cleaning program can feel overwhelming,
green cleaning is not an "all or nothing" proposition. Most schools
that successfully implement green cleaning programs begin by
addressing the most significant or easily accessible issues first.
As they experience success, they add new elements to their plan
or make adjustments to improve the results of current efforts.

Maybe one day we might even see green cleaning mandated in

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Sustainable purchasing

Create an Environmental Management Plan for your school


The Australian government has introduced the Australian Sustainable
Schools Initiative (AuSSI)
 – to assist schools and their communities
become more sustainable.

Schools are involved in purchasing a wide variety of products and
services, and the decisions associated with these purchases can
have a significant environmental impact.

Staff and parents can be great advocates for change, and all
Australian schools can participate in AuSSI. With your school's
endorsement – you could consider forming a green committee
and encourage the introduction of a School Environmental
Management Plan (SEMP) or implementation of a Sustainable
Purchasing Policy.

A great place to start is the SEMP Builder – a fantastic on-line tool
for schools that takes you step-by step through a process of reviewing
your school's activities and their environmental impacts, prioritising
needs and writing up actions to address those needs.

Not sure what a SEMP should look like? Click here to view a sample.

By addressing the school's purchasing policies and practices through
AuSSI, students can be involved in the broader management of their
school, feel empowered to lead and create change and find creative
ways to improve their school's environmental impact.


Want to add your own eco tips for sustainable business?
Please email to


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