My desk has been a mess lately. I blame it on looming deadlines—with so much to get done, I rationalize that I don't have the time to stop and clean it up, much less spend time recycling. (I know, I know!) But I wanted to change that. So today, I met with Danny Seo, host of "Simply Green with Danny Seo" on HGTV, who showed me some ways to make my cluttered cubicle greener. As a sidenote, his own green resume is impressive—and started early. His birthday is Earth Day, and he's been finding ways to live an environmentally conscious life from the age of 12, authoring several books on the subject and founding Organic Style magazine.
I learned so much from him. He grabbed the Wall Street Journal off my desk, put it on the ground, and said, matter –of-factly that if you step on a newspaper when you get into work (or in your home), the paper will absorb any harmful elements, like lead and dirt, so you don't track them inside. Apparently, the paper is already equipped to handle soaking up ink.
First we started with my phone. He whipped out a cotton ball and some rubbing alcohol and got to work swiping the handset and buttons clean. He told me breakouts occur easily from office phones—they harbor so many germs. Think about it. We're on them all day. Instead of using a harmful bleach, he recommends keeping alcohol swabs in your desk drawer and periodically swiping down the phone. Easy, fast and non-toxic.
Then he looked at the piles of papers and files I had sitting around and recommended EFax, a service that allows you to fax by email, without using paper. Another tip: he faxes documents to himself this way so he's got digital copies of print documents. Then he can reduce the inevitable clutter on his desk. (And you know half that stuff ends up in the trash anyway.)
Then, seeing a couple of catalogs strewn across my desk, he taught me this easy trick for unwanted junk mail: turn over the catalog, cross out your name, and write "REMOVE" next to it. Then, circle the name of the company and their return address, and write next to it, "RETURN TO SENDER." The US Postal Service will return the catalogue by third class mail, charging the catalogue's sender. That company won't want to incur any additional postage charges, so they'll remove your name. That means one less catalogue ending up in your trash can.
And finally, noticing a Poland spring bottle on my desk, Seo showed me a way to save money and health concerns. I live in NYC, and while the tap water here is famously good, I'm still not 100% comfortable drinking it. Seo suggested a really great product called Pure Water 2 Go, which allows you to filter water anyway directly into your water bottle. Just insert a tube into your water bottle and—voila!—it removes impurities, bad taste, and all that other gross stuff. The best part is that it costs just $5, and you can use it for up to 200 refills!
Watch Danny's video for getting germs off of your computer keyboard without using any cleaner.