Taking Work Home
Our office is pretty green. Recycle bins for paper, plastic and metal live on every floor. The recycle bin overflows long before the trash can fills. We rarely print–we e-mail, e-file, forward or CC. Our default print is set to grayscale and two-sided. At the end of the work day, computers and monitors are shut down. When we leave our office for lunch or a meeting, and at the end of our work day, it’s lights out.
We’ve gotten the green office memo. At a meeting last week, I realized that we’d taken it personally. All of us were drinking our morning caffeine or water from reusable containers.
Curiosity aroused, I surveyed my colleagues to find out what green things they did on their days off. (This was not strictly a scientific survey; the sample wasn’t random—we all work for DEP.)
Survey Question: What easy thing do you do after you get off work that protects air or water quality, conserves water or reduces waste?
Protect air quality
- Nancy uses green cleaners to keep her home clean and free of harsh chemicals.
- Shelton traded his car for a more fuel-efficient ride. He gets 40 MPG, saves on gas money and reduces emissions.
- Kristin upgraded to energy efficient appliances that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and her utility bill.
- Martha carpools with two other people who work in the same building. They all save on gas. Emissions from the work commute are 2/3 less than if all three drove.
- Ann keeps her car tuned. She gets better gas mileage and fewer emissions enter the air.
Protect water quality
- Amy has a professional change her oil. Oil change centers recycle the oil. Motor oil, if not properly disposed of, can contaminate groundwater.
- Deas is a boater and uses pump outs. After a day of boating, she brings trash and recyclables back to the dock with her for proper disposal.
- Brad actually reads and follows the directions on the bags of fertilizer he uses on his lawn. Too much fertilizer contaminates groundwater and surface water.
- I catch rain to water plants. Rain is free. The oregano and thyme, which didn’t have to fly in from another state, make tasty additions to many recipes.
- Lauren mulches her flower beds to retain moisture and reduce the need for watering.
- Everybody surveyed turns off the water while brushing their teeth.
- Dianne bought reusable plates, cups and flatware for her staff. This keeps about a dozen paper products out of the landfill every time we order pizza.
- Leah feeds kitchen scraps to her chickens. Then the chickens lay eggs to feed Leah and her family. It works out nicely.
- Kathalyn doesn’t buy flavored water in bottles. She flavors water from her tap with fresh fruit, mint or lemon grass. Less wasteful, more tasteful.
All those surveyed have adopted easy green habits. Whether we brought those habits to the job or the job brought them to us, we’re pretty sure that protecting our air and water quality, conserving water and reducing waste makes sense and saves dollars.