Tips To Make Your Employer More Environmentally Friendly, Part 2

Editor’s note: MarketGreener has accepted some guest posts by the good folks at uSwitch, a utilities price comparison Web site aimed exclusively at businesses to help them save money on electricity. This and the last post are from uSwitch.

Areas to investigate
These are three areas which are worth looking at, because they can be simple to organise, can save money and don’t require much effort to operate as schemes.

1. Energy use

A few simple procedures can make a significant difference to how much energy the business uses and so pays for.  If it’s possible to introduce an energy monitor, it will be easy to show this.

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Tips To Make Your Employer More Environmentally Friendly, Part 1

Editor’s note: MarketGreener has accepted some guest posts by the good folks at uSwitch, a utilities price comparison Web site aimed exclusively at businesses to help them save money on electricity. The next two posts are from uSwitch.

No-one can ignore environmental issues.  Most of us are becoming used to recycling at home and many consider ethical sources for food, clothing and other goods.  But business has been slower to catch on.  Is there anything you can do, as an individual employee, to make your workplace more environmentally friendly?  This practical guide gives you some ideas to make a difference at work.

Be practical
In the current economic climate, many people are more worried about their immediate financial position than the future of the planet.  If you want to make changes, you’ll need to offer practical reasons and plans.

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Simplifying Work & Life: Energy Saving Tips And The Four Day Work Week

A friend just sent me the ClimateWire article from last week stating that,

computer technology is responsible for 2 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions — the same amount as all air traffic.

(Unfortunately, you’ll have to become a member to read the articles on ClimateWire, but don’t worry, I’ll sum up the important stuff from this article right here.)

The article goes on to lay most of the blame on supercomputers, stating that the Leibnitz Computer Center in Munich, Germany, is

tackling the problem, but not without a €120,000 ($185,000) monthly electric bill.

Most of that energy usage comes from keeping the massive banks of computers cool, yet some of it comes from running the computers themselves:

A new supercomputer at the Leibniz Computer Center will use the same amount of power that a 400-ton high-speed train uses to accelerate from zero to 186 miles per hour.

Going on to lay some of the blame of energy consumption via computing on the average citizen, the article claims that:

Rough calculations determined that one Google search consumes enough electricity to run an 11-watt, energy-saving light bulb for 15 minutes to 1 hour.

If you’re concerned about the amount of energy you consume through your computer, here are a few things you can do:
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A Few Follow-Up Questions to Jackson's RRR Campaign

recycling binAs a follow-up to a previous post about Jackson Hole’s local Reduce, Reuse, Recycle program—or RRR—I asked Heather Overholser, the executive director of Jackson Community Recycling and one of the founders of the RRR program, a few questions. Please see the previous post about RRR for more information.

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Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs Do Make A Difference

compact fluorescent light bulb

When I started this blog and sent it out to some friends for feedback, I got a couple of responses from those who wanted me to write about compact fluorescent bulbs, or CFLs. I was hesitant to do so because I felt the argument for CFLs, while absolutely pertinent, has become a little clichéd. Everyone’s jumping on the CFL bandwagon and it seems like anyone who’s replaced an incandescent light bulb with a CFL now feels vindicated that they’ve done their good deed for the planet.

After all, Wal-Mart recently embarked on their own CFL crusade, and while that’s good, we shouldn’t let Wal-Mart stop there.

Or maybe it was because I’ve already changed every bulb that I can in my own home to a CFL and figure I’m over it. But there are still many (countless many) out there who haven’t installed a single bulb and are either hesitant to do so or don’t even know what a CFL is.

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Save A Tree From Your Email Signature

On an email from my brother-in-law today I saw this interesting little tidbit under his signature. I found it surprising and inspiring at the same time. Surprising because I hadn’t pegged him for a greenie. Inspiring because he’s taken the time to put this there, and it reminds me how easy it is for any of us to use our email to help make a difference. (more…)

RRR Helping Businesses Become Sustainable

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Would you like to do more to green your business but you don’t know how? Are you an employee of a business that you think can and should be greener in its every-day practices but you’re not sure how to entice your boss to “go green”? Well, there’s a program in Jackson Hole that can help ease you down this path.

The local Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Campaign—RRR for short—was begun in 2004 by Jackson Community Recycling, Teton Sustainability Project of the Murie Center, and Habitat for Humanity’s Jackson Hole ReStore as a way to help local businesses develop sustainable practices. Along the way, they’ve also developed a marketing program to help businesses get the word out to their customers and potential customers that they strive to be an environmentally sustainable business. It’s a program that has garnered a bit of attention locally and brought a lot of businesses into the fold (fifty-six business at last count, according to their Web site).

According to the site,

Since 2004 it has taken the form of a multi-year advertising campaign, and more recently it has developed a local green business certification program.

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Conserving Office Paper

Paper. We use it every day. And even though the reference to saving a tree by conserving paper is almost ubiquitous, there still seems to be a disconnect between the need—or desire—to save paper and the ease of hitting “print.” Make no mistake; using paper has an impact on resources. Not just trees, but also water (in manufacturing—in fact, lots of water) and fossil fuels (in manufacturing, distribution and disposal) just to name two.

Let’s face it, the paperless work place was an unattainable, if noble, pipedream. We now know that the computer has not only not created a paperless work-place, but that it has in fact allowed us to waste even more paper more quickly. But it doesn’t have to be that way. While we may not be able to become completely paperless (at least not until we can do away with that pesky fax machine), I think we have reached a point where we can begin to use less of it.

When I consider my paper waste (cause that’s what it all ends up as), I think hard about what I really need to print and what can suffice on the screen. When it comes to printing from the computer, the pages I print usually boil down to three types:

• things I want to read away from the computer,
• things I have to share with others, and
• things that need a signature.

There is one other type of document that is very often printed but I think can be done away with with some discipline. And that is: Things that need to be filed.

Ways we can conserve office paper
Let’s start with that last one. We print things that need to be filed because we want a paper record. This is good for many reasons:

• paper documents can be accessed without a computer,
• they can be copied and shared,
• we jot notes on them, and
• we have a back-up of the doc should anything happen to the digital version.

But in many cases, the digital version is just fine and can be kept safe if we back up our hard-drives. While we may not be able to keep from printing some docs, most of them these days start out as digital files and can often stay that way. Consider also the number of times you print the same doc.

Things that I want to read away from the computer are usually stories I find during my daily “media snacking” that I don’t have time to read while I’m working and want to read later. Sometimes they’re longer documents that need to be proofread and I can’t stand to do it on the screen (I find my editing is more effective if I can read it on the printed page).

Unless you have a duplex printer (one that prints on both sides) and use it religiously, chances are you have a lot of paper that is only printed on one side. Why not take all your (non-confidential) single-sided printed pages and keep them in a pile next to the printer so you can print on them again? You can either dedicate a drawer in your printer to this paper or use the manual feed. All it takes is a quick set-up in your printer settings to have an option for that recycled paper drawer or the manual feed to print non-essential documents on the second side of a discarded page.

This so-called “scrap” paper can take many forms. When I started at Circumerro the beginning of this year, the company had just completed an identity re-design and there was a lot of letterhead left over. I’ve been printing on that leftover paper since January and I’m still not through it. And it could be a few months more until I am. In the mean time, I’ve gotten several co-workers to use the same paper for non-essential printed items.

When it comes to the “things I have to share with others” category, I find that much of what I share is within the office. We’ve gotten very good at sharing documents via email, iChat and on the intra-office server. In most cases, we don’t need to print things out to share them in-house.

However, meetings tend to be a common place for wasted paper. How many times have you received a document (or worse, a stack of documents) at a meeting only to discard them once the meeting is over? As I mentioned above, you can print on the other side of that paper when you’re done with it, but why not save that paper to begin with?

Many offices now have a computer in the conference room (or anywhere you may attend a meeting) that is networked with the rest of the office. Why not make that agenda available digitally and share it on-screen instead of printing it out? Besides, most of us attend meetings with a note-pad or journal with which to keep notes.

(If you don’t have a computer in your meeting room, how many agendas do you think you need to not print before you pay for that extra computer? Keep in mind it has value beyond just saving paper—accessing the Internet during meetings and as an extra work-station.)

Things that need to be signed pretty much fall under the same category as things that need be filed. However, there are plenty of times that I print a doc from an email, sign it and fax it back to the sender. If we can begin to use a “digital signature,” we could cut down on a lot of this paper wasted. The document was printed on my end and it was printed on the other end. In this case, all this great technology utilized over distance has allowed us to double the amount of paper needed instead of cut down on it (and if you received it as a fax the first time, the amount of paper has tripled by the time it gets back to the source). If you scan your signature and save it as a jpg, you can drop it onto a word doc or a PDF (this may be a little harder), and then email it back to the sender. It doesn’t matter that your signature was a digital file because the faxed paper would have been a copy anyway.

These are pretty simple things to consider. It really just comes down to planning and establishing new habits in the workplace. Once you’ve found an efficient way to conserve paper (or any resource for that matter) you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.

Of course, there are other aspects to lessening the impact of paper in the workplace, including using recycled paper and then recycling paper when you’re done with it, but that’s fodder for future posts.

If you have ways you or your company has succeeded in cutting down on paper use in the workplace, please share them here.

Sustaining Jackson Hole Considers Community-Wide 10×10

Earlier this week I was invited to attend a meeting of the Sustaining Jackson Hole Resource Group. Sustaining Jackson Hole is a program started about four years ago by Jonathan Schechter of the Charture Institute. He describes Sustaining JH as a legacy question:

What legacy does the current generation of Jackson Hole residents want to leave for future generations? Put another way, what qualities that we enjoy today do we want to leave for future generations?

I’m not going to get into the whole thing here (it’s worthy of several blog posts at least—he’s practically written a book for each year of the program), but suffice it to say that Jonathan cares deeply about this community and strives to make it a better place; or rather, to keep it as the place we all know and love. To achieve that end, he smartly enlists others who feel just as passionate as he does about Jackson Hole and gets them to help vision, plan and execute programs that we all hope will make a difference.

In January of this year, the Resource Group (there are, if I remember correctly, 12 Sustaining Jackson Hole groups consisting of representatives from businesses and organizations working in areas of the community including the arts, the environment, civic affairs, education, religion, transportation and others) held a gathering of approximately 80 people who all got together for an event called “Jackson’s Green Actions.” Jonathan describes it as a “brag session” where folks from around the community came together to speak about what they and/or their businesses were doing on the environmental front. I wasn’t there, but from what I understand it was quite a feel-good session that went on for several hours. While nothing necessarily concrete came out of the session, it was an event that will likely become one of the building blocks of the Jackson Hole community’s environmental movement.

Now the group, spurred again by Jonathan, is looking toward the possibility of holding a “Jackson’s Green Actions 2” this coming January. But this time the group wants to do something akin to starting a community-wide movement that would inspire and motivate businesses and individuals to set a goal of reducing the overall environmental impact of this community by a certain amount by a certain date.

Meanwhile, the governmental bodies of both the Town of Jackson and Teton County have made a commitment to reduce each of their organizations’ energy use and waste—their two most measurable impacts on the environment—10% (from 2006 levels) by December 31, 2010. This is an incredibly admirable goal; one that they’re on their way to achieving and will hopefully set a precedent for other communities around the country and maybe even the world. The program is called 10×10 and you can find out more about what the Town and County are doing at this Environmental Initiatives page on the Town of Jackson site.

You can also learn more about the 10×10 Jackson Hole program at jh10x10.org and from my friend Keith over at his blog, Carbon Neutral Journal, where he lays out ways to help achieve 10×10. 10×10 is by no means limited to our two governmental bodies. Anyone and any business or other organization can take the pledge.

At a joint gathering for all Town and County employees (the first of it’s kind, I understand) on January 8, 2008, the Town and County will officially unveil their 10×10 campaign to all their employees (and likely a cadre of local media representatives). Should it chose to do so, the Sustaining Jackson Hole Resource Group will build upon this momentum to launch a similar community-wide campaign soon after at Jackson’s Green Actions 2. Stay tuned…

Kicking the Bottled Water Habbit

Now that we’ve got MarketGreener rolling, I’d like to start off with a multi-part series about ways to help green your workplace. There are many ways to do this, and you may even already be doing some of them. Most of them aren’t too hard; they only take a little initiative and the process of learning some new habits. And best of all, most of them will easily save instead of cost money.

One initiative I helped start at Circumerro (the creative media company here in Jackson where I work) was to purge the place of the plastic water bottle. Not only were we buying a flat of 24 12 oz bottles of water every week, we also had a water dispenser in the kitchen that used 5+ gallon plastic bottles (at least those were refilled). The 12 oz bottles were offered to clients or anyone we met with in the conference room, and the water dispenser was used mostly by employees. Each has it’s own costs. The water bottles we’ll get to in a minute, but the most immediate cost of the water dispenser was that it was plugged in 24/7 so the few tea drinkers in the office could have hot water on demand. This feature was rarely used, but the hot water was there for you nonetheless. Aside from constantly drawing power, the immediate downside was that even the cold water was always luke warm. Yuck.

The plastic water bottles, in my mind, were a more immediate scourge to reckon with. Did you know it takes more water to produce the bottle than can actually go in it? According to this report on treehugger.com, a 1 liter plastic bottle requires 5 liters of water in the manufacturing process! That’s before any water even goes in it. In this particular case, according to Pablo Päster, we’re looking at bottles of Fiji bottled water, which are bottled in and with water from, you guessed it, Fiji. The bottles come from China (by boat) and then travel to the US (again by boat), but this time they’re filled with water so they’re much heavier. You can read the complete details here on triplepundit.com where Pablo goes on to compute the energy used before you even have your first sip (an accounting methodology also known as “embodied energy”). And we haven’t even yet considered the problem of recycling the bottles…

Now, it’s always a courtesy to offer your guests something to drink, and water is the easiest thing. It would be unthinkable—rude even—to not offer something to your visitor. But I knew there was a better, more hospitable way. Considering that America has the safest, most drinkable water right from the tap, there’s really no excuse to be buying bottled water in the first place. Our water is pretty darn good here in Jackson near Yellowstone and the headwaters of the Snake River, but admittedly, the water coming from the Town of Jackson isn’t the best. That said, it’s nothing that a Brita water filter can’t take care of.

So here was the solution that we set upon: we returned the water dispenser and its bottles to the distributor and stopped purchasing (and throwing away, er, recycling) 12 oz bottles of water. We purchased a Brita filter pitcher (though we weren’t influenced by it, you can take the pledge to stop using bottled water here) and some pint glasses, and now we have great water to drink with no more overhead than replacing filters every few months.

And perhaps the best part? Our clients recognized the effort we’d made and many respect us even more for it. So the lesson here: once you’ve made an environmentally conscious decision, don’t forget to tell your customers about what you’ve done. When you do that, you’ll have made a step toward becoming a green marketer.