Image for Eco-Tips 2008

MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge Eco-Tips

Recycle: environment friendly globe onlyTips will be added to this page regularly and published in each edition of Lawyers Weekly beginning Jan. 7. 


 EcoTip - Dec. 23 

Recycle: Tree with heartEducation

     1. Foster employee awareness of your environmental initiatives by developing an environment section of your employee handbook and providing training on your environmental initiatives as part of your firm’s employee orientation.

     2. Send out monthly eco-tips to encourage participation in your firm or company’s environmental initiatives and provide incentives to recognize exceptional performance and creativity from employees.

     3. Set up and label a Conservation Center in a high-traffic area of your office to educate staff about environmentally friendly practices and, if applicable, the office’s participating in the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge. The center can be a bulleting board, bookshelf, poster or other materials and can include one or more of the following:

  • A copy of the MBA Green Guidelines;
  • A list of tips for the office and home;
  • A ride-share or carpool chart; and 
  • Books and pamphlets about conservation and preservation.

     4. Honor the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge by celebrating Earth Day on April 22. Use Earth Day to raise awareness of or to institute green practices in your office:

  • Create an Earth Day center with green resources and tips in a high-traffic area;
  • Email Eco-Tips to all staff and urge them to implement one tip in honor of Earth Day;
  • Hold a contest to determine which staff member has most increased their recycling; and 
  • Schedule office leaders to hold short Eco sessions outlining ways of greening the office.

     5. Make sustainability a true part of your business practices by adopting change from the inside out.

  • Work with individual employees to determine how each can become more environmentally friendly in their current roles;
  • Set-up internal goals for employees or departments, as well as rewards for meeting those goals. Issue regular reports on the progress of those goals; and
  • Use the office’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint to create a positive image for your business in mission statements, marketing and advertising campaigns.

Recycle: Energy ConservationEnergy Conservation

     1. Reduce the amount of electricity consumed by computers in your office. For example, computers left on after hours result in 14.4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

  • Set computers on timers that shut them down after 30 minutes of being idle.
  • Make sure all computers have and use screen savers.
  • Instruct everyone in the office to shut down all parts of their computer – including the monitor – when they leave for the day.

     2. Reduce the amount of electricity used in your office by cutting down on light usage.

  • Turn off lights in all rooms when not in use.
  • Install motion detectors in areas such as hallways, conference rooms, bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Replace older light bulbs with compact fluorescent light or light emitting diode bulbs.

     3. If your office is in a building you do not own, work with your landlord to implement sustainable practices. For guidance in this area, view the Environmental Request to Landlord section of Here are a few examples of initiatives:

  • Work with your landlord to encourage energy savings by installing compact fluorescent bulbs and timers.  
  • Encourage your landlord to buy green power. Visit
  • Discuss with your landlord the possibility of having your utility provider complete a free energy audit, in just your space, or the whole building.
  • Educate your landlord on sustainable building practices used by the U.S. Green Building Council LEED program. Visit 
  • Promote the installation of a green roof. Visit

     4. Replace your old-fashioned cathode-ray tube (CRT)  monitor to an LCD to reduce your energy use by one-third. A typical flat-panel monitor requires 25 watts; a CRT, 75.
Check the efficiency of everything you plug into your office outlets. Smarthome makes an energy meter called a Kill A Watt, which displays how much electricity the appliance uses per hour. You use the device by plugging it into an outlet and then plugging in your appliances.

     5. Once you’ve taken steps to reduce your office’s energy consumption, start keeping track of how those changes have reduced your energy bills. Create a record-keeping system to measure your program’s effectiveness and determine ways to further decrease your office’s energy output.

     6. Turn off your personal digital assistant device when it is charging in its holder to save on energy consumption. The device will still receive a charge. To synchronies the device with your computer, turn it on for a few minutes before removing it from its holder.

     7. Stop using a screen saver.

  • Screen savers do not save energy, they save the screen from being permanently imprinted with an image.
  • Screen savers eat up lighting and processing energy.
  • Set screen savers to none or blank screen.

     8. Consider laptops: Consider buying laptops instead of desktops, as they generally use less energy and are more efficiently made.

     9. Consider office sharing: If you have a number of employees that don’t use the office regularly, consider assigning offices based on a schedule. You’ll save on utilities, equipment, furniture and more.

     10. Keep air vents clear of paper, files and office supplies. It takes as much as 25 percent more energy to pump air into the workspace if the vents are blocked.

     11. Minimize the need to heat and cool your office by making sure windows and doors are properly insulated. Place weather stripping and caulk around all windows and doors to keep hot air out and cool air in.

Recycle: Environmental ConservationEnvironmental Conservation

      1. Support local environmental organizations and consider establishing a workplace giving program.

     2. Promoting green practices at your office:

  • Invite and promote educational speakers on sustainability to be part of office training
  • Implement a workplace giving program that supports environmental non-profits.
  • Employers should consider matching employee donations.

Recycle: environment consciousEnvironmentally Conscious Purchases:

     1. Save trees and reduce your carbon footprint by switching to 100% post-consumer recycled content paper for photo-copying and professional print jobs. The myth that recycled content paper is of worse quality or will get stuck in copiers and printers is just that – recycled content paper performs just as well and comes with the added benefit of being able to promote your “green” choice to customers and clients.

     2. To cut down on trash and packaging, buy your kitchen supplies – like sugar, creamer, and coffee – in bulk rather than in single-serving containers.

     3. Consider energy-efficient equipment when replacing appliances and computers in your office and home.

  • Visit Energy Star at to find a wide array of energy saving products, including printers, copies, refrigerators and computers.
  • When replacing computers consider those that are rated highly by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) by visiting The web site uses a set of criteria to help consumers compare the energy efficiency of various computers.

     4. Think about the impact of all the products you buy for the office, even those seemingly as innocent as hand soap. When purchasing dishwashing liquid, hand soap and automatic dishwashing detergent for use in office kitchens and bathrooms, choose those free of toxic substances including phosphates, triclosan, chlorine and/or other antibacterial ingredients.

     5. To help your office implement the many tips we've offered over the past several weeks, view a comprehensive list of Green Resources. The resources list where you can purchase green office products, includes:

     6. When considering what paper to purchase and use at the office, consider more than just if the paper is recycled.

  • Choose paper that is processed chlorine free.
  • Use unbleached and uncolored paper.

     7. When replacing office supplies that are broken or otherwise useless, consider choosing environmentally friendly options.

  • Staple free stapler;
  • Bulletin board made of recycled materials; and
  • Dry erase calendar.

     8. There are a few things to consider when your office decides to start buying green products and working with vendors to become more green.

  • Make a list of all items used in your office.
    1. Start choosing recycled content versions of as many as possible.
    2. Think about eliminating duplicate products and/or asking employees to share items.
  • Ask vendors to think about changing the ways they package their goods.
    1. Suggest returning packaging to the vendor for reuse.
    2. Ask vendors to minimize packaging.
    3. Suggest that vendors create packaging their customers can use after the item is delivered.

     9. Look for manufacturers which have particular certifications and/or use green materials when selecting office furniture.

  • Solid wood desks
    1. Make sure it is not made from a tropical hardwood.
    2. Look for ‘FSC certified’ timbers from suppliers that practice sustainable forest management.
  • Particleboard Furniture
    1. Ask for formaldehyde-free, or low formaldehyde particleboard or options with non-toxic preservatives.

     10. Choose your office envelopes wisely.

  • Avoid using envelopes with covered windows wherever possible, in order to enhance their recyclability.
  • Use adhesives on envelopes and mailing labels only if they are water-based and do not contain chlorinated organic compounds, many of which are toxic chemicals.

     11. When choosing printer cartridges, consider buying those with toner powder derived from soybeans.

     12. When decorating your office for the holiday season, remember to consider the environment:

  • Refrain from using lights unless they are Energy Star certified; and
  • Choose living plants in pots like poinsettias and small pine trees.

Ozone FriendlyGreenhouse Gas Reduction:

     1. Work with the state’s free travel options program, MassRIDES, to set up programs at your office that encourage your employees to use commuting options, like transit, carpooling, etc…MassRIDES offers free assistance and will work with you to set-up programs that best suit your employees needs, from transit pass programs to online ride matching for carpool/vanpools.

     2. Help reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming by cutting back on your travel to and from work and while working. You can do that several ways:

  • Choose other modes of travel besides your personal car, like public transportation, biking, walking and carpooling. If you must drive, choose a fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • Hold Web and phone-based meetings instead of gathering in person.
  • Work from home whenever possible.

      3. Do your part to reduce gas consumption and traffic congestion.

  • Set up a ride-sharing or carpooling system at your office.
  • Allow employees to work from home on a regular basis.
  • Set up conferences over the phone or via the web instead of in person.
  • Provide incentives for employees to use public transportation instead of their cars.
  • When workers travel for business ensure they rent fuel-efficient cars. 

     4. Offer bike parking: Provide employees with a secure space to park their bikes in order to encourage this mode of transportation.

Recycle: Recycled Paper Paper Reduction

     1. Review all catalogs, periodicals and other written materials that are regularly mailed to your office to check duplication, need and the possibility of electronic delivery

  • If the same magazine or catalog is mailed to more than one person in your office, consider sharing the information instead of receiving multiple copies.
  • Remove your office from mailing lists when you can view the same information on-line or if the material is discarded immediately.
  • Visit for help in getting off mailing lists.

     2. Make an effort to reduce the amount of paper consumed by your office and be sure to reuse existing paper print-outs no longer needed:

  • Refrain from printing emails when feasible.
  • Encourage sharing of phone and reference books Use letter sized paper, files and pouches instead of legal size.
  • Create notepads from used paper that has been printed on one side.

     3. Whenever possible use electronic delivery of documents instead of paper. Lawyers use 10 times more paper than the average office worker:

  • File with courts and agencies using their online options.
  • Route interoffice memoranda and reports through the office using email or an Intranet page.
  • Set up fax machines to receive messages electronically.

     4. Cut down on the number of sheets of paper used for print or copy jobs. Each individual lawyer in the U.S. consumes a ton of paper each year, about the equivalent of 24 trees.


  • Choose copy machines and printers that have an option to print on both sides of one sheet of paper. Instruct everyone in the office to use that option for each print job.
  • Use smaller font sizes, wider margins and no extra spaces between paragraphs and sentences.

     5. If double-sided printing is not yet an option in your office, use the clean side of discarded paper to print all documents for internal use, including drafts, emails, notices and reports. 


     6. The holiday season is fast approaching. When considering how to share holiday wishes with colleagues, clients, friends and family, choose eco-friendly options:

  • E-mail greeting cards
  • Cards printed on recycled paper and/or with soy-based ink 

     7. Choose green business card options, including:

  • Electronic business cards.
  • Business cards printed with soy ink on 100 percent recycled paper whitened with non-chlorine bleach.

     8. Change the way you think about printing:

  • Do you really need a hard copy of it? Can you save the message/attachments instead?
  • Instead of printing a web page, bookmark it or save the page.
  • Proof the document on screen before printing.

     9. Save paper by trading in your paper Post-it notes for the digital version. The makers of the Post-it, 3M, have created Post-it Digital Notes.


     10. Consider alternatives to paper made from trees:

  • Think about purchasing paper created from hemp, bamboo or organic cotton.


Recycle: circle symbol



     1. To increase recycling, reduce wasteful purchases and encourage teamwork at your office, create an internal reuse center. This center, housed in a common area such as a cafeteria/kitchen or storage room/closet would become the central location for staff to swap supplies, from the tape dispenser left behind by a former colleague to a duplicate desk calendar.

     2. Implement or expand a recycling program at your office. Recycling prevents habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity and soil erosion associated with logging and mining.

  • If no recycling program exists, contact your local city or town hall and ask for help with starting a program. Visit for more information on recycling programs.
  • If a recycling program exists, look at ways to increase the variety of items that can be recycled. Move past paper and bottles and cans to plastics, cardboard, batteries and electronic equipment.
     3. Cut down on waste and disposables in your office and work toward recycling items you are no longer using: 
  • Arrange for your ink cartridge supplier to pick up used cartridges for reuse and/or purchase remanufactured cartridges, rather than new ones, for laser printers.
  • Provide pitchers with filtered water rather than bottled water, to employees and visitors.
  • Donate old office equipment, computers and supplies.

     4. Reuse office supplies several times before ordering brand new items. Here are some ideas:


  • Ship packages in boxes you receive at your office;
  • Mail letters and paperwork in envelopes sent to you; and 
  • Place new files in old manila file folders.

     5. Recycle hazardous waste in your office. Used batteries and obsolete electronic devices should all be recycled rather than tossed in the trash.


  • Bring items for recycling to hazardous waste collection day in your office's community.
  • Ask your landlord to adopt a collection policy.



Recycle: R LogoSustainable Practices

     1. Recycle your old computers or donate them to a local non-profit organization. Most major computer manufacturers offer recycling programs that make it easy to recycle or donate your old computers.

     2. Buy reusable coffee mugs for your employees or yourself and use them when you get your caffeine fix for refills in your office or the local coffee shop.

     3. Reduce the use of toxic products in the workplace.

  • Purchase unbleached paper towels and napkins for bathrooms and the kitchen/cafeteria.
  • Buy cleaners for bathrooms and the kitchen/cafeteria with low toxicity and high biodegradability or clean with natural products such as baking soda, lemon juice, white vinegar and club soda.

     4. Cut down on waste and disposables in your office and work toward recycling items you are no longer using:

  • Arrange for your ink cartridge supplier to pick up used cartridges for reuse and/or purchase remanufactured cartridges, rather than new ones, for laser printers.
  • Provide pitchers with filtered water rather than bottled water, to employees and visitors.
  • Donate old office equipment, computers and supplies. 

     5. Conserve water use in the office.

  • Install low-flow toilets and aerators in all sink faucets.
  • Post signs asking users to use as little water as possible.
  • Establish regular maintenance of sinks, toilets and other areas that use water to catch and repair leaks.

     6. Change the way staff and visitors eat and drink at your office.

  • Install dishwashers in all kitchens.
  • Replace disposable cups, plates and utensils with high-quality mugs, glasses, plates and silverware.
  • Replace single serve coffee filters, creamers and sugar with refillable carafes and/or containers.

     7. Consider using paper products and printing companies that abide by sustainable practices. Among those to consider are:

  • Purchase printed stationary from companies that use environmentally-sustainable inks;
  • Use paper gleaned from sustainable forests; and
  • Choose printing companies that rely on wind power and use soy-based inks. 

     8. Make being environmentally-friendly a part of your office’s culture.

  • Make the office’s green standards and expectations a part of new employee orientation packages.
  • Develop information on greener purchasing, recycling, commuting, etc., and make it easily accessible to all staff.

     9. Consider Earth-friendly choices when selecting new personal supplies for your office and business needs.

  • Use a coffee mug made out of corn plastic.
  • Pick a wood USB drive.
  • Choose biodegradable pens.  

     10. Make environmentally-friendly purchases when selecting office supplies.

  • When looking to redecorate your office, opt for refurbished office equipment instead of always buying new.
  • When possible, buy rechargeable batteries to power office devices such as cameras and calculators.

     11. Cut down on the amount of printer toner you use by reducing the contrast setting on your computer and printer.

     12. Avoid color printing: Color printing generally uses more ink, so print in black and white when you can.

     13. Pass on straws and drink directly from the container, or pour the drink into a glass or mug.

     14. Take your own travel coffee mug with you when buying take out coffee.

     15. Consider how your work wardrobe and the way it is cleaned impacts the environment.

  • Purchase clothing and accessories made with organic or recycled fibers;
  • Buy vintage or gently used clothing;
  • Avoid clothes that need to be dry cleaned;
  • If you must use a dry cleaner, choose a "green" business; and 
  • Donate old clothes instead of throwing them away.

     16. Save ink by altering your printing habits:

  • Avoid printing in color when you can and opt for black and white only; and
  • Use draft mode to print items in a lighter shade using less ink.

For more information, or to get involved e-mail Eco-challenge.

©2017 Massachusetts Bar Association