April 30, 2012
Vol. 3, No. 17
Eco-Tip™ welcomes your comments and suggestions. Our goal is to openly discuss environmental issues, to suggest actions that make our environment safer, and to show how seemingly unimportant actions, when totaled-up nation-wide, have an immense impact.
Fact: There are many ways to be “Green” — some of them both cheap and easy — some a little more costly or requiring more effort on our part….
Discussion: Just before Earth Day, WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR affiliate, aired a segment on ways to be Green “on the cheap”. From my own experience, I know that many of the ways to be Green are ”no-brainers” – but I also know that some, free-bies or not, take a bit more personal commitment.
With that in mind, I’d like to break WBEZ’s concept down a little further, so I’ve come up with five different categories:
- Free and easy — the no-brainers (CE)
- Free or cheap — but takes a little more commitment on your part (CMC)
- More expensive in the short-run — but cheaper in the long run (STE/LTC)
- More expensive than “normal” all the time — but relatively easy to do (ME)
- Greatest personal commitment — regardless of price (MC+)
Commitment is a pretty personal thing. What’s easy for one person can be excruciatingly difficult for someone else. So I decided to break it down by — a) stuff you may not have known about before, but that really doesn’t require any lifestyle changes – b) stuff that requires some lifestyle change or financial commitment — and c) those things that require not only more effort, but possibly a complete change of lifestyle.
Who knows — maybe the lifestyle change will be as easy as pie and something you won’t find difficult at all. One never knows. The proof will be in the pudding — and you won’t know till you try…. So here are my suggestions for “no-brainers” you can do at work — followed after that by how this all helps….
- re-cycle waste paper (CMC if your company doesn’t have a “blue-bin” program, take the paper home once a week.)
- use disposable pens till they run out (this could be harder than you think)
- re-use old envelopes for any documents that are hand delivered
- print everything two-sided — including letters to clients
- re-use blank side of any old one-sided documents (keep basket for them on desk or a box on the floor)
- re-cycle any cans, bottles, or plastic from lunch or snacks (MC — again bring home once a week if no “blue bin”at work)
- bring re-usable mug/cup to work
- use ambient light when possible rather than turning on light
- turn off incandescent lights when leaving a room
- leave fluorescent lights on if you’re going to be gone for les than 30 minutes
- lower thermostat when office is empty
- unplug radio/disc player at night
- “sleep” — or better if you can — turn off computer monitor at night (MC –unplug monitor from power strip)
- as company policy allows, turn off computer at night (MC — unplug it from the power strip)
Some of these are truly no-brainers that you are probably doing already. Offices usually are not — with the exception of paper — resource-intensive — they’re energy-intensive. Electricity, heating, and cooling are the biggest drains. Anything you can do to cut down energy use will be both effort and money well spent — including unplugging everything you can. (Plugged in electronics are still sucking energy out of the system even when they are turned off. The way to kill this “living dead” energy vampire is not with garlic or wolfbane — but like Eric Clapton — to simply go “unplugged”.
Electricity is the biggest problem, I feel, because it’s so “invisible”. Over 60% of our country’s electricity comes from coal. (Here in Chicago, it’s mostly nuclear-generated, but Com Ed is still buying coal generated electricity on the open market to make up for energy shortfalls.) You may not see the smoke stacks belching NOx, SO2, lead, mercury or CO2 — but they are there nonetheless – and some where down the line you windup paying part of the indirect costs of all that un-needed and non-sustainable electrical generation — through higher health insurance premiums, higher government Medicare costs and health care programs, and higher health care costs in general.
You may not see it — but somewhere down the line you’re paying for it
Stop. Think. Choose…. so make it easy on yourself — and do the free stuff now so you won’t pay for it later.
Reduce. Re-use. Recycle.
Next Week: The longer list of “home” free-bies….
All the best,
IEMA Certified Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility Practitioner
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