Greening Your Whiteboard and Post-Its

by Kim   |   June 11, 2009

Two nearly ubiquitous products in the modern office are sticky notes (often known as their brand name, Post-Its), and white boards. Here are some tips for eco-friendlier office supplies.


This week I discovered a new favorite green cleaning product: A-Ben-A-Qui universal cleaner. Our office's white board had so many layers of half-erased writing on it that it was becoming unusable. Other cleaners hadn't worked very well, and sprays often had unpleasant odors.

A-Ben-A-Qui, a chlorine-free child-safe pink goop, did the trick. Our whiteboard is now a gleaming white, leading me to investigate other ways to "green" the writing boards found in most offices.

    • Some whiteboard markers are 100% recyclable. See the AusPen.
    • For all you used-furniture hounds, old whiteboards and chalkboards are commonly found at thrift stores and yard sales. These can be covered with flexible dry erase boards or a product that comes in sheets like wallpaper. Refurbishing a whiteboard can save quite a bit of money, as they tend to be pricey when bought new.
    • Some people are allergic to chalk, but for DIY enthusiasts who have kids at home or don't mind using regular chalk, here's a recipe for making your own chalkboard paint which will render any surface writable. (Assuming the ingredients all come in eco-friendly versions, as some commercial chalkboard paints claim to.)

Post-Its: Fact or Fiction

I've read that Post-Its are not recyclable, that you have to remove the sticky part first, that only certain colors are recyclable, and that they all can go in the mixed paper bin.

Who to believe?

Well, 3M, the makers of Post-Its, claim to have conducted recycling trials on their products, finding that the adhesive did not interfere with recycling. Depending upon your local rules about mixed paper, however, some of the brighter colors may not belong in the bin with the rest of your used paper.

    • A safe bet would be to use the softer colors
    • Always buy sticky notes made from the highest percentage of post-consumer recycled materials available.
    • Think first before using sticky notes...they're expensive, and somewhat addictive. Do you need it?
    • Create an old-fashioned sticky-note alternative to have on hand for more mundane notes: scrap paper cut into small sizes along with paper clips or wooden clothespins (a wooden clothespin or bulletin board posted next to the desk is a great way to cut down on sticky note use)
    • Feeling guilty--and less organized--with the proliferation of tiny pieces of paper in your life?
      3M is one of several vendors that offers digital Post-It programs for your computer. They all seem to be available for a small fee, so we can't authoritatively recommend one above the other, but if your Post-It use seems to be mostly notes to yourself around your workstation, it might be worth it. See IdealBite for some open source recommendations.

this touching article

       about the psychology of Post-Its, memory loss, self-affirmation, art, and relationships.