Wrapped in green 
This week we kick off the holiday season with food, family and friends – and shopping. Well, from a retail standpoint, shopping started just before Halloween, but you get the point.

You may find yourself drawing a name for the office gift exchange or spearheading a toy drive or canned food collection to benefit local charities. All those are terrific endeavors, but there are also some ways to green your office celebrations and add a spirit of environmentalism.

• Thanks in part to this year’s recession we’ve been reminded that less is more. Forego the gift exchange and give employees an opportunity to volunteer at the local homeless shelter or food bank – preferably somewhere within walking distance or encourage carpooling. You can’t possibly need one more bobblehead for your desk or word-a-day calendar, so skip the gifts. You save on gas from shopping trips and generate less trash (gift wrap, packaging, etc.).

• Employees will inevitably do some shopping, but there's no reason it can't be green. Give employees a list of local vendors and those who support fair trade. Buying local not only supports your neighbors but reduces the amount of energy, gas and resources used to ship products.

• Instead of giving gifts, ask each employee to contribute $5 or $10. Donate the money to a local environmental organization or use the funds to green the office – replace light bulbs, purchase recycled paper or buy reusable coffee mugs so you can eliminate the use of paper or Styrofoam ones.

• With company budgets already spread thin, it may be tough for employers to give holiday bonuses or gifts. Instead consider giving employees a set number of free telecommuting days so they can work from home, which helps the environment and gives the employee a chance to work in their PJs.

• If your company is having a holiday party, give it a green theme. Send invitations via e-mail or with an evite. Work with eco-friendly vendors, such as caterers and rental space. Ask employees to carpool to the party.

Let’s hear your suggestions for greening your office during the holiday season. Post a comment and share!

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