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April 12, 2013
5 Ways to Become a Green Freelancer
With Earth Day coming up on April 22, it's a great time to think about how eco-friendly your freelance business is.
Sure, as a freelancer you're probably saving a lot of gas from not having to drive to work every day...but are you causing even more waste with the way you do business?
Here are a few steps you can take to go a little greener this year as a contractor.
1. Recycle
If you tend to print a lot of materials, you might end up with a sizeable stack of paper by the end of a week. You can either put that pile into a recycling bin instead of the trash, or reuse it — the back sides of printed sheets make great scratch paper or fax cover sheets.
Going completely paperless might not be possible, depending on what type of work you do, but working on-screen as much as possible, instead of on paper, can cut down on a lot of waste. Also, don't forget to recycle your old computer, cell phone, and other electronics.
2. Buy Recycled
On the flip side of the coin, you can buy recycled office supplies whenever possible. Although some of these (like recycled paper and pencils) may be a bit more expensive than their non-recycled counterparts, the extra cost is worth the reduction in waste.
You can also use refillable ink cartridges instead of purchasing new. Refillable cartridges are usually cheaper than new, and often come with packaging to send back your used ones. If you do a lot of printing, this can add up to a significant savings (both in cost and waste) over the course of a year.
3. Use Energy-Saving Office Equipment
Printers, fax machines, and other equipment come in energy-efficient models, which can significantly cut down on your electricity use. Some machines may also have power management features, so you can put them on a standby setting when not in use.
Make sure you power down your computer and monitor at the end of the workday. Even putting your computer to sleep instead of leaving it on a screen saver can conserve a lot of electricity.
4. Find a Green Web Host
With their huge servers, web hosts tend to be some of the biggest energy consumers in the online world. But many are starting to switch over to more energy-efficient equipment; finding one of these greener hosts can help reduce your own environmental footprint.
5. Don't Bury Your Customers in Packaging
You might do a great job of conserving paper in the office...unless your business involves shipping physical goods. If you tend to over-package your products, you might just be frustrating your customers — and wasting a ton of paper or plastic besides.
Also, keep an eye on supplies coming into your business — many suppliers will let you send back packaging materials so they can reuse them.
As a freelancer, you're in a great position to cut back on your energy consumption and waste. By making just a few small changes in the way you run your home office, you can significantly reduce the effect on the environment.

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Freelance blogger Angie Mansfield covers a variety of subjects for small business owners. From business growth to marketing to how to make a budget, her work will give you tips to keep your business running smoothly.
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