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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

7 Ways to Green Your Desk Routine

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You dutifully divide your recyclables, carry eco-friendly grocery bags, and wash your gym socks in cold water. You're an environmental overachiever.

But once you're out of your five-minute morning shower, you're in work mode. And because that means getting things done yesterday, everything you know about going green goes down the drain—along with those reusable coffee grinds. That is, if you're even making your morning joe at home.

Rushing out and grabbing your fuel en route is one of the not-so-green workday habits you can break—just by tweaking your routine a bit. You'll reduce your impact, and keep stress and guilt at a minimum, too. Read on for easy swaps to your usual desk routine, and you'll be going greener in no time.

9 AM: Grab Coffee Out

That coffee stop takes more time, and uses more resources, than simply filling your favorite travel mug before you leave—using your new podless home brewer. You can save hundreds of dollars a year, depending on your typical coffee shop fix (triple latte with caramel drizzle, anyone?).

No plastic pod, no to-go waste. Brew by hand using a French press, and you've done her one better.

The newer mugs available keep your brew hot for hours, and lock for easy transport in your work bag. And if you just can't quit your local cafe, ask them to fill it for you. They may offer a discount, and by nixing the daily paper cup and cardboard cozy, you'll save 45 pounds of wood per year . Now that's one good-sized tree branch!

9:30 AM: Write Your To-Do List

Your desk is greener with that travel mug on it, you think, as you jot down your to-do list. But now that you're saving a tree branch, why not save the trunk and twigs too?

Todoist is a to-do list app that allows you to make and share projects—and organize them into tasks and sub-tasks—without tearing anything off a notepad. One feature even helps you analyze your productivity. If only an app could measure how green you are now that you've trimmed back your paper usage!

Actually, one does. But hold off—in a few hours you'll make Kermit look pale.

10:30 AM: Grab Your Plastic Water Bottle

Did you remember to freeze a plastic water bottle to throw in your bag? Well, for under 30 bucks you can stow a green solution to your mid-morning thirst, and it won't sweat on your laptop. Fill a Kleen Canteen (leak-proof and double-wall vacuum insulated) with ice and water every morning, and you single-handedly save the earth from hundreds of plastic containers a year.

12:00 AM: Eat Out, Off Plastic

It's convenient to grab lunch at a counter, sit and eat, and swipe everything off the table and into the trash. But a quick online search can help you locate a lunch spot, like Chipotle or Elevation Burger, that's just as expedient while running a greener operation.

You may even be able to find a certified green eatery nearby that's using sustainable building materials and energy sources. And you're likely to find locally sourced foods on that menu, too—meaning a tastier lunch in a stronger community.

You're halfway through a greener day!

1 PM: Print Presentation for Meeting

1:01 PM: Change paper. 1:03 PM: Replace toner. 1:15 PM: Research the latest presentation software. Download WPS Office Free, with slideshow capabilities similar to Power Point. 1:20 PM: Revamp your presentation with animations and effects that will capture everyone's attention the way no blotchy graphic from a used-up color ink cartridge ever will. You've saved paper, plastic, and ink—and the afternoon!

3:30 PM: Pour a Coffee Pick-Me-Up

No matter how thrilling your presentation, by mid-afternoon those K-cups are dropping like flies in the office kitchen. Of course, they actually land in landfills and stay there—if placed end-to-end, the pods tossed by caffeine fiends in one year could circle our planet 10 times.

Why not suggest that your office stock a biodegradable version like San Francisco Bay OneCup. Newer model machines may accommodate K-Mug pods, packed with extra grounds so you can skip seconds with a tall travel mug pour—eventually preventing miles worth of plastic waste.

5:30 PM: Check Your Greenie Credentials

Okay, it's time for you to bask in the green cred you earned today. With the Joulebug app you can track your impact and progress, heed suggestions for acting more sustainably, and start filling your Trophy Case. Need a little competition? Challenge other Joulebug greenies!

So, we know this is a lot to take in. Changing your coffee habits and your lunchtime routine all at once may seem overwhelming. Trying implementing one new sustainable habit per week and before you know it you'll have greened your entire routine.