How green is your office? Everywhere you turn these days there are articles about going green and saving the planet. One of the last meetings I attended as a Daughter of the American Revolution featured such a speaker. That got me to thinking about my home office and how I can do my part.

As a writer and professor, I am surrounded by books for reference and inspiration and paper for writing and printing. I go through reams of paper and boxes of print cartridges like there is no tomorrow! For years, my mother has kept a stack of scratch paper by her telephone. It consists of previously addressed envelopes, the backside of junk mail and the flip side of letters. She folds or cuts the large sheets into smaller ones. She uses this varied assortment of papers to write grocery lists, to leave family notes on the counter, and to take phone messages. There was a time when I thought why not use a pretty little note pad. In fact, I know I have given her several such gifts over the years. But I never saw them make it to the paper pile! Well, guess what I now have beside my computer—a little stack of assorted papers!! Yes, I have the cute cat note pads (that my mother has given me) and colored post-it notes. But my new habit is to be sure to use the back side of the fancy paper as well as the scrap paper.

As for printing, I have discovered that most of my printing is done for internal purposes. So I conserve paper and print on two sides. Only when both sides have been used do I discard the paper. I have been saving my print cartridges and will take them to Office Depot for recycling. I have a bag of fifteen color and black cartridges accumulated. I also avoid printing in color unless it is for an external document. I also just stop and ask myself, do I really need a copy of this, or can I read it on the screen or email it to myself to store electronically?

When I renovated my office last year, I insulated the walls and ceiling in a home that was built in 1956. My light spilling windows provide lots of natural light and tropical breezes. I have lined curtains to conserve energy. The joke in the neighborhood is that I am the last person in North Palm Beach to turn on the air conditioning. In fact I play a game with myself to see if I can make it one more week, than another and oh let’s just wait until July 1. Some summers I do make it! A pedestal fan cools me just fine. When I need artificial lighting, I have lights on a dimmer switch. I have two desks in my office equipped with lamps for task lighting. I power off the computer when not in use—I admit that has taken some work to break the habit of leaving it continually on.

As for books, I buy them everywhere. I love it when I can purchase books at garage sales, thrift stores and Goodwill. I always check the inside to see if it is autographed and check for scraps of paper hidden in the book that gives me clues about the person who used to have it. And when I tire of a book or it has served its purpose for me, I always return it to the universe by taking it to a local cat thrift store!

Bountiful Blessings!