Apr 18, 201912:50 PMOpen Mic
Send us your blog for consideration!
5 simple ways to green up your office for Earth Day and beyond
(page 1 of 2)
Earth Day is on April 22, and it’s a critical annual reminder to do what we can to protect our environment and help preserve Mother Earth.
On this day, you’re likely to see captivating news stories featuring environmentally conscious projects and interviews with people volunteering to clean parks and plant trees. Many times, young people get in on the act as schools and youth groups make their contributions to Earth Day efforts. While they don’t get as much press coverage, there are countless small- to medium-sized businesses that are also making significant contributions to saving our planet every day, all year long. I would submit that the actions these businesses take are just as important as the one-day Earth Day efforts that shine in the media spotlight.
While Earth Day isn’t about scoring media coverage or praise, it is about taking a moment to step back and recognize the impact of our actions on precious planet Earth. I recently watched a 60 Minutes profile on the legendary Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an immense accumulation of plastic (mostly from littering and illegal dumping) floating in the sea between California and Hawaii. The effects of this human-caused blob on human and marine life are appalling!
So now the question is, how can we be kinder to the environment?
Recycling used to be a simple answer, but recent concerns question its long-term viability. For instance, China now limits imports on certain items — including plastics — for recycling purposes. Here in the U.S., domestic recycling is, quite frankly, more difficult and costly. While recycling has its place, it is no longer the catchall solution it was once chalked up to be.
The current barriers to recycling serve as red flags and urgently call us to become more cognizant than ever about the types of items we choose to purchase for work or home. Our responsibility for the effects it will have on Earth spans from the time we acquire an object until we dispose of it. I believe that small, consistent, and positive actions — adopted by the masses — will go a long way.
What can businesses do to make a difference to reduce waste and protect the planet? Below, I’ll share the steps we have taken at our office in the hope that it will encourage and inspire as well.
1. Reduce reliance on single-use plastics.
Look around your office to see what types of plastics you and your colleagues use. Are any of them single-use plastics (i.e., plastic water bottles, plastic utensils, plastic packaging) that you need only once and then toss in the trash or recycle bin? If you’ve answered yes, consider these suggestions for replacing these items with reusable alternatives:
- Purchase filtered water for your office (or fit a faucet with a filter) and encourage employees to use reusable cups and containers to fill up.
- When you need small portions of pre-dispensed water, look to environmentally friendlier products like boxed water packaged in recyclable, biodegradable containers (we are sourcing these for our office and now offer boxed water for sale to our customers).
- Encourage employees to forgo straws or use biodegradable versions instead of plastic ones.
- Just say “no” to all Styrofoam — it takes many years for this material to break down, causing strain on environmental resources.
And don’t stop here. Keep looking around your office for more ways you can start to eliminate use of plastic.
2. Switch your lighting.
Look to use LED light bulbs wherever you can — they’re more energy efficient, less toxic, and better for the environment than traditional bulbs like fluorescents and incandescents. LEDs are up to 80 percent more efficient, and a huge advantage of LED is that it converts a much larger percentage of energy into light than traditional bulbs. They also contain no toxic elements like fluorescents can, which are especially harmful when it’s time for disposal.
LEDs also have an excellent quality of light, so that fewer are often required to achieve the same level of brightness. If that weren’t enough, LED lights last up to six times longer than traditional lighting, so you don’t have to replace them as frequently.