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5 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (In The Office)

In February 2013, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that the Treasury it would introduce a carbon tax in an attempt to alleviate the effects of climate change. A rate of R120 per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent will be levied on companies, but in some cases there would be tax-free thresholds.

With less than 10 months before this new policy kicks in, start reducing your company's carbon footprint in these easy and simple ways…

1. Don't travel, telecon Instead of taking that business trip for a one hour meeting, set up a tele- and video-conference with your clients. With faster broadband speeds it doesn't matter whether your client's in Durban or Dubai, you can get the same face-to-face interaction using Skype's video messaging service or Google's Hangouts. By meeting in the digital space, you're not only saving on jet fuel, but also reducing overnight hotel waste.

2. If you can't cut, offset If you have to travel for business, then offset your carbon emissions by planting trees. Incentivise staff to carpool instead of each travelling in their individual cars to the office – and think of the subsidised parking space you could be saving on too.

3. Skip the plasma – plant or paint Sure the Oscar Pistorius trial is intriguing, but if you don’t run a newsroom there really is no need for all those plasma screens around the office. Conserve energy and electricity by using plants or recycled artwork to decorate the walls. Why not get your employees' kids to send in their finger paintings and call it "remodernism".

4. Switch off It may sound obvious, but tonight when you drive past office blocks, take a look at how many of them still have their lights burning. If there's no one in the building, switch off the lights. Similarly, if you can regulate your various meeting rooms' air-conditioning, switch it off when the rooms are not in use. If you work in a larger building and cannot regulate the lighting or air conditioning, get the building manager to set it to a timer. Set the switch-off for 10pm when no one will (or should) be in the building.

5. Go paperless With everyone on laptops and tablets these days, there's no real reason to print that meeting agenda or email. But you don't have to take a big plunge and go paperless immediately; you can start small. Begin with those post-its and little lists. Evernote is a great digital app for desktop and mobile that allows you to take notes – it even has a handwriting option. If you really need to print a document, use both sides of the paper and edit the document before printing. Then when you're done, recycle! Alternatively, use recycled paper and other recycled materials for your office supplies. Also, try to minimize the incoming paper load. Instead of getting those office utility bills or invoices in the post, opt in for electronic statements.

None of the above activities require big changes to your business. They're small adjustments that add up and you'll see the difference in time for 2016.

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