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According to the latest statistics, the average law firm employee last year used 23 tons of paper and 482 million watts of electricity, and flew 72,000 miles. Just kidding. But don’t underestimate the impact we have just going to work and doing our jobs. Take, for instance, me. Normally, in my librarian’s office at McDermott Will & Emery, I have five piles of paper printed from Web sites and e-mails, a computer that is not set to save power, and window blinds that I never lower. My trash can holds a wad of white recyclable paper (how did that get in there?), a newspaper, a plastic spoon, and a foam container from a greasy carry-out lunch. I have to accomplish certain tasks at work and these tasks require resources. However, even with these limitations, there are many ways to make my job greener. Tens of thousands of us work at D.C. law offices, and our cumulative environmental impact is enormous. A few changes in workplace habits, spread among this multitude, will significantly impact the energy and trees we consume, and the trash we produce. Consider also that the green office saves money. Here are some small things you can do to make your office greener: POWER Computers and monitors. The electricity needed to power one desktop PC and monitor left turned on produces one ton of airborne carbon dioxide a year. As explained in Portland, Ore.’s excellent Green Office Guide, turning off the PC and monitor at night and setting it to “sleep” during the day uses 80 percent less energy. First, turn it off when you leave at night! Second, change the power settings. If you use Windows, go to “settings,” “control panel,” “display,” then “screen saver.” From there, click on power and change the settings for your monitor, hard drive, and standby time. You might consider 15 minutes for the monitor, 30 minutes for the hard drive, and 45 minutes for standby. With a few tries, you can find settings that are convenient for you. Please note that screen savers don’t save energy, they save the screen. You might check with your office’s information technology gang for their suggestions. Printer. If you have your own printer, turn it off when you leave. If you have a network printer that no one else will use that night, turn that off, too. Laptops. Laptops are built to run as long as possible without recharging their batteries. They use 70 percent less electricity than desktop PCs. If you have the option, go for the laptop. PAPER According to the folks at Conservatree, a California nonprofit, the typical harvestable tree is 40 feet tall and between 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Using this tree, they’ve made some calculations: •�One tree makes 16.7 reams of copy paper or 8,333 sheets. •�One carton (10 reams) uses 60 percent of a tree. •�One ream (500 sheets) uses 6 percent of a tree. Just remember that two cartons of paper is one tree. Think of how many trees you see stacked up around the office. And it takes energy to cut that tree, to manufacture and transport the paper, and power the printer or photocopier. You can make a real difference by choosing some alternative to printing. Don’t print at all. View whatever it is online instead of on paper. For instance, if you see this article on your computer screen, do not print it! Read it online. An LCD computer screen makes reading online less tiring on the eyes than CRT monitors. If you start with information in electronic form, why not keep it that way? Make the initial effort to cut and paste the information. Once you get in the habit, it’s easier to review and edit documents on-screen. Try to find ways of not printing. Save documents electronically. You may have a file cabinet in your office, and you probably can’t find anything in it, either. Saving a document electronically makes it easier to locate and find text within. Also, if you save documents to your document management system or elsewhere on your office network, they get backed up. If you save locally, chances are your files aren’t backed up. You may be able to make folders on your system to organize your information and assign access. Instead of printing Web pages and keeping them in a stack on the floor, bookmark them in your “favorites” and organize them in folders. With some thought, saving information electronically can help you better organize and retrieve your work. Use the law library. The librarians might be able to find the cases, treatises, or legislation that you’re looking for, on the shelf. Before printing, check with them. Use the scanner rather than the photocopier. Scan the document and e-mail it rather than photocopying. If you must photocopy, do it double-sided. Limit printing. If you have to print, try to minimize the amount of paper you use. Print it two sided with the duplex setting on your printer. Widen the margins, make the font smaller, change the line spacing to single line. Learn how to print just the section of the document you want. Use the preview function to make sure you’ve got it right, and have the first print be your final copy. Remember recycling. Put the paper in the recycling bin! Don’t worry about tree hugging. It’s not required. You’d probably mess up your business casual outfit anyway. PLASTIC AND GLASS Get a coffee from the machine in a foam or paper cup, put a plastic lid on it, stir it with a plastic spoon, drink, then throw out. Maybe you have two cups a day and work 180 days a year, and well, you get the picture. Bring in a metal spoon from home, or clean the plastic one. Use a coffee mug. A few years ago, I had a co-worker who brought a glass bowl down to the carry out and had them fill it up. Hundreds of foam lunch containers do not exist because of his effort. If you use glass, aluminum, or plastic bottles, see if there is a bin handy to recycle them. HEATING AND COOLING You may not have much control over heating and cooling in your building, but there are a few things you can do. If it’s summer and you’re on the sunny side of the building, lower your blinds. Conversely, in winter, let the sun in. Your PC left on at night in the summer is a double whammy. It uses power to produce heat, which must be cooled by the air conditioning. The revolving door in your building was put there to allow you, rather than hot or cold air, to go in and out. If you are not handicapped, pushing the handicapped button and keeping the door open as you walk down the block, is not your best energy saving idea. TRANSPORTATION Cars. Burning one gallon of gasoline produces 19 pounds of carbon monoxide — three times the weight of the gasoline. The combustion of gasoline is an effective way to turn life-sustaining oxygen into greenhouse gas. Here are a few ideas if you drive: Inflate tires properly (could save 3 percent to 5 percent), use the proper oil (could save 2 percent), remove the extra junk from the car, and maintain the engine in proper tune. Remember an idling engine gets zero miles per gallon. If you’re going to idle for more than 30 seconds, consider turning the engine off. If you have to drive, don’t drive alone — carpool. You can find some good tips at www.fueleconomy.gov. Better still, use public transportation. Airplanes. Sometimes you have to fly and meet your client face to face. Would a video conference, a conference call, or some other method work? A green alternative to travel may also save your client money. Paper. If you’ve already saved a document electronically, why not transport it electronically? Alternatively, send a fax. Moving paper by overnight courier, messenger, or mail uses energy, takes time, and costs money. In the few weeks I’ve been puttering on this article, I’ve put many of these suggestions in place. I put the white recyclable paper in the bin. I use a coffee mug instead of a foam or paper cup. My PC is set to sleep when I am away and I print less than I used to. None of these suggestions has been hard to accomplish. As an individual, I’m not saving that much. But cumulatively, each individual effort makes a huge difference in the energy we use, the trees we harvest, and what ends up in the landfill and atmosphere. Even if you adopt a few of these ideas, you will improve the environment — and you’ll save money.
John Hoffman is the library manager in McDermott Will & Emery’s Washington, D.C., office.

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