General Tips for the Workplace


Ways to Save Energy


Turn off the lights

  • If you work in a building that has an automated lighting system (such as a LEED building), then the office, corridor and common area lights will turn off if the space is unoccupied after a specified amount of time.  

  • If your building doesn’t have automated lighting, remember to turn off the lights when you leave a room.

  • If you are the last in the office, turn off the lights in the corridors and common use areas.


Replace inefficient light bulbs

  • When replacing light bulbs, choose the more efficient option such as LED (light emitting diode).


Unplug unused electronics

  • Unplug your electronics like smartphones and laptops once they are charged.

  • Unplug your adapters, too; adapters that are plugged into outlets use energy even if they’re not charging.


Go to “Sleep” mode and turn off your screen

  • If you work at a computer and it’s time to head out to a meeting, place your computer on “sleep” mode or “shut down.”

  • You can also turn off your monitor screen and select the “Power Saver” option by selecting the Control Panel, then Hardware and Sound, then Power Options. (for Windows)


Just Say No to Small Appliances

  • Small appliances such as space heaters, mini-fridges, or personal desktop printers use up unnecessary energy.


If you are uncomfortable with the temperature, speak up & leave it to the pros

  • If it’s too hot or too cold in your office, let your supervisor know and he/she can contact the appropriate maintenance staff.

  • Refrain from taking matters into your own hands, as this can have unintended consequences. For example, if you cover up air vents with any materials such as cardboard, it could cause issues with the HVAC system.

  • Refrain from bringing in a personal space heater to the office.



Ways to Reduce Waste


Bring reusable dishware to work

  • If your office has access to a sink or dishwasher, bring reusable dishware to work instead of using single-serve throwaway dishware.

  • If you are reusing mugs, make sure your team is educated about not leaving their dishes in the sink for someone else to clean.

  • It’s better for the environment to use the water to clean those dishes rather than creating waste such as discarding a paper plate or cup.

  • Bring your own reusable water bottle to work instead of buying plastic water bottles.


Only print what you need

  • Not only can you save paper by only printing what you need, but you can also share printed copies at meetings instead of printing out one for each person.

  • Set your printer default to double-sided and black and white to reduce your paper waste and save ink.  

  • Draft printed-on paper into smaller pieces and reuse for short notes and scrap paper.

  • If your team has a meeting and you are in charge of the agenda, place it up on the screen instead of printing everyone copies.


Ask for recycled content printing options

  • Order paper made from post-consumer recycled material rather than paper made from virgin wood fiber.

  • For your next big printing project, ask your local print shop about their post-consumer recycled content paper options for your order.


Recycle your used ink cartridges and toners

  • Many retailers, such as office supply stores, accept used ink cartridges.
  • Ink cartridges are made of plastic, precious metals, aluminum and ferrous metals. The printer ink and toner that are widely used in cartridges are classified as hazardous materials.

  • These materials, when placed in the landfill, can take hundreds of years to decompose and in the meantime have the potential to negatively impact our waterways, soil and human health.


Host low-waste office events and meetings

  • Choose locally grown or locally produced food or select a local caterer who uses local products, and use reusable or sustainable dishware.

  • When planning a work meeting with food, order food from a local caterer, especially one that uses local, sustainably-grown ingredients; it's healthier for the environment.

  • This supports local businesses and decreases the miles that food has to travel to get to you. Reducing food miles reduces greenhouse emissions.

  • If you can, avoid using non-recyclable single-use beverage containers and dishware – or stuff that you will only use one time and throw in the trash.

  • Opting for reusable plates, cups and dishware is the best choice.

  • Second to that is to look for the “compostable,” “biodegradable” or “recyclable” label on dishware when you’re making a purchase at the store.


Reuse envelopes & file folders

  • Save money and paper by reusing envelopes. All you have to is place a blank label over the old address and stamp.

  • Reuse old file folders by crossing out the old title and writing a new one.


Send reusable surplus office items and equipment to your local thrift store

  • If you have reusable surplus items at work that you no longer need but are still in good condition, then take  them to your local thrift store such as Goodwill, Habitat For Humanity Restore, or Salvation Army.





How to Recycle


Locate your office recycling bin

  • Many offices nowadays offer their employees personal deskside recycling bins or a communal recycling bin in the kitchen or break area.

  • Make sure you know where your office recycling is located and encourage your co-workers to recycle too!


What can be recycled in Nashville?

  • Metro has single stream recycling which means you can recycle paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and containers, aluminum cans and metal cans all in one container. See a complete list of what can be recycled here.

  • All recyclables should be clean of food scraps or liquid, which can contaminate your recycling. If you have large cardboard boxes, be sure to break them down so that the bin doesn’t quickly fill up.


What do you do with hard to recycle items?

  • Hard to recycle items include glass, batteries, electronics and hazardous materials.

  • If your office doesn’t already have an outside vendor who picks up these items, you can take them to one of Public Works’ Recycling Drop-off Sites. Public Works’ website, under “neighborhood services” will show you which drop-off locations accept which items.



Ways to Save Water


Be conscious of your water use at the office

  • Many modern buildings incorporate low-flow toilets and automatic, timed sink dispensers.

  • But if your building doesn’t have these fixtures in the bathrooms, you can help save water by being conscious of minimizing the amount of toilet flushes and time you run the sink.

  • Be sure to report any leaks to your supervisor.

  • Be a team player and turn off faucets that are left on by others.


Drink Nashville’s great tap water!

  • Don’t be afraid to drink the tap water in Nashville – consumer confidence reports by Water Services show consistently that our water is clean and safe to drink.

  • Bring your water bottle to work instead of buying bottled water.


Ways to Prevent Pollution


Don’t idle in your vehicle

  • By turning off your vehicle when you stop at your destination or are waiting in-line, you will reduce air pollution, save on fuel costs and reduce wear and tear on vehicles.

  • This is a good practice, as it cuts down on pollution and improves Nashville’s air quality.


Reduce trips

  • Combine trips and look for the most time and fuel efficient route possible.



Ways to Use Alternative Transportation


Charge your electric vehicle at a station around Nashville

  • If you drive an electric vehicle, find one of the EV charging stations here.


Carpool with coworkers

  • Carpooling to work with your co-workers saves you gas, helps the environment and allows you to take the HOV lane so you can get to work faster. You could even start a carpooling network in your office to get more people involved.

  • Metro also offers a Green Parking Permit providing free metered parking for vehicle owners that purchase carbon offsets.

  • Check with your employer to see if they offer designated parking spots for those who carpool with co-workers.


Take public transportation

  • Public transportation takes cars off the road and prevents pollution. Just contact your department’s EasyRide coordinator (typically HR) to sign up and get your EasyRide pass.

  • MTA also makes it easy to ride with real-time information on bus arrivals through or the Music City Transit Tracker app.

  • MTA will also provide a route coordinator to actively ride with you and show you how to use MTA for your commute.


Bike to work!

  • Nashville has lots of bike parking all over town. Biking to work saves you gas and helps prevent pollution by taking cars off the road.

  • B-Cycle, a bike-share program, has stations with bikes for rent all over town! Check out B-Cycle Station Locations





A Healthy Work Environment


Walk to work or during your lunch break

  • You and your co-workers can start a walking club. Check out this step by step guide for how to start a walking club at your office


Take the stairs instead of the elevator

  • This is one simple way to build in a little bit of exercise to your work day.


Choose healthy, nutritious food options

  • When cooking for the work week or deciding where to go out to lunch, remember to choose healthy options.

  • Eating healthy, nutritious food helps to improve your mental focus and productivity at the office and cuts down on sick days.

  • Also remember to choose healthy food options that are served in low-waste containers for office catered lunches and events.


Download the NashVitality app or visit

  • The NashVitality mobile app is a free, easy-to-use tool to learn about all the places to be healthy and active in Nashville. It also includes information on  recycling centers and other green resources.

  • NashVitality’s website offers many great resources for building a healthier work environment, including tips on smoking cessation, eating healthy and incorporating physical activity into your day. Other Nashvitality resources include:




Ways to Get Engaged


Teach your kids and family about sustainability!


Start a “sustainability team” in your office

  • An office sustainability team is comprised of employees who are most passionate about initiating and/ or maintaining a sustainable office environment and culture of sustainability.

  • If you interested, we can provide instructions on what steps to take to start a sustainability team in your office!


Volunteer in your community!