Photo credit: iStockphoto.com/Falconiaz
One of the best things coming out of the push toward sustainability is the increasing awareness that with a little effort, we can do a lot of good. Energy use in commercial buildings and manufacturing plants accounts for nearly half of energy consumption nationwide, so the workplace is a low-hanging fruit, in a way, even if your company doesn’t have any programs or policies in place. Here’s what you personally can do, starting today.
First, reduce what you use. The average worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year. Do as much work electronically as you can. If it’s necessary to print a document, then print it double-sided. Have your paycheck deposited electronically. Put a stop to junk mail addressed to former employees for free at ecologicalmail.org.
A painless way to reduce power use is to use your computer’s sleep mode. The faster it goes to sleep, the more virtuous you’re entitled to feel. (This saves bundles of money, too, when implementation is corporate wide.) Also, shut off your computer at the end of the day unless IT has an update planned, and unplug any adapters, which use energy even if they aren’t charging. And then there are the usual mantras, like “Turn off the lights!” and “Don’t stand there with the refrigerator door open!” Turns out our parents were right.
If you’re familiar with the environmental triumvirate (reduce, reuse, recycle), then you know what’s next. If you must use something, choose what you can use more than once. Coffee mugs, water bottles, even handkerchiefs (remember those?) are all fine choices.
Finally recycle as many materials as you can. Go to www.earth911.com to find a recycling center close to you. Contact the manufacturer of your printer cartridge and ask them to provide shipping labels for used cartridges.
There is much we as individuals can do on our own. But the energy savings increase exponentially when companies follow an individual’s lead. Tools from the EPA and resources from Herman Miller’s environmental team will help you get started.
By Christine MacLean