Home-based businesses can take advantage of residential energy and water saving programs.Read More…
Tips to reduce, reuse and recycle paper.
This should be your first focus because it will save you the most money.
Encourage thinking beyond printing/copying:
People often forget this step before they recycle their paper.
Even with your best reduction efforts, you’re likely to have some paper “waste.” Make sure it’s getting recycled and not going to the landfill.
Make it convenient Position recycling containers throughout your office, especially wherever there’s a trashcan. Don’t forget the break room, conference rooms and reception areas.
Yes, you can recycle that! Let everyone know that they can put all sorts of paper in recycling:
Just avoid including large amounts of super-slick or heavily-coated paper.
Businesses in the Portland metro region are throwing out the equivalent of 4,000 elephants worth of paper each year.
Did you know? Businesses in the Portland metro region are still throwing out 30,432 tons of paper each year.
That’s the equivalent of 4,000 elephants worth of paper going to the landfill!
Portland businesses continue to make great strides in reducing their paper use and making recycling easy for their staff – but there’s still more that can be done.
1. Identify where your workplace uses paper:
2. Ask these questions for print projects, in this order of priority:
3. Maintain, improve and push the envelope:
You know what they say... “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”*
* No elephants were harmed in the making of this blog. The Sustainability at Work program loves elephants and does not condone eating them.
Learn how Research Into Action has nearly eliminated paper towel waste.
Research Into Action’s Green Team wanted to get rid of paper towels. They looked into electric hand dryers and found their building doesn’t have the right wiring for them, and they were worried about the noise in their small office. Since they already used cloth napkins in the kitchen, they wanted to see if they could try cloth towels in the bathroom as well.
The firm of about 25 staff has always been sustainability minded and their President and Owner, Jane Peters, is very supportive of their Green Team. Almost one year into the program, reusable towels are habit and paper towel use has almost been eliminated.
How they started
Maria Everhart, green team member and champion of sustainability, got inspired by personal hand towels after her husband heard about how in Japan people have been expected to carry around reusable, personal hand towels for decades.
She and another colleague found PeopleTowels, an American company that makes personal quick-dry hand towels out of 100% organic Fair Trade Cotton and with eco-safe dyes. PeopleTowels seemed like a great solution, but the green team still had to overcome another challenge: how to hang the towels to dry in the bathroom without drilling holes in the wall.
Maria then discovered Jelly Bean Hooks (available for purchase on amazon), suction cup utility hooks that are BPA, PVC and Phthalate-Free. You can even recycle them at special facilities in Portland, (look online or call 503-234-3000 to find your nearest location).
What they bought
How it works
Staff do different things with the towels, allowing each person to find their comfort zone.
Members of Research into Action Green Team pose with PeopleTowels. From left to right, Maria Everhart, Benjamin Messer, Meghan Bean, Doré Mangan and Jordan Folks. Check out Maria’s family website about their passive house!
The environmental savings of reusable towels add up. In the first year, Research Into Action will:
If 1 in 4 adults in the US switched to PeopleTowels for a year, it would:
Want a PeopleTowel for yourself? Find them for sale in Portland at Seven Planet, Powell’s Books, and certified silver Mirador Community Store. Or buy from the PeopleTowel’s website and save on bulk purchases.
Do you commute by car or drive for work? Reduce your impact: stop idling.
Did you know that if you’re stopped for more than 10 seconds, it’s better to turn off your car rather than idle?
It saves gas: If you idle for 5 minutes dropping your kids off in the morning, 3 minutes at the drive-through and 4 minutes listening to the end of a news story in your driveway, you've burned enough gas to drive 24 miles.
It saves money: Americans spend a whopping $13 million every day on unnecessary idling. (That's 3.8 million gallons of fuel, wasted!)
It saves the planet: For every 10 minutes of idling you cut from your life, you'll save one pound of carbon dioxide - a harmful greenhouse gas - from being released into the atmosphere.
It makes us healthier: Idling is linked to increases in asthma, allergies, heart and lung disease and cancer. Kids are especially vulnerable because they inhale more air per pound of body weight. Lots of idling happens near schools.
It's good for your engine: Idling can damage engine components. According to the California Energy Commission, "Fuel is only partially combusted when idling because an engine does not operate at its peak temperature. This leads to the build-up of fuel residues on cylinder walls that can damage engine components and increase fuel consumption."
Even on cold mornings, the days of idling in the driveway to warm up your car are over - today's cars warm up more efficiently when they're driving than sitting in a driveway.
What can you do?
Try these tips during April, or any time of the year.
Did you know recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run your TV for three hours? Or that recycling creates four jobs for every one job created in waste management and disposal industries?
Which uses more water to produce? A pound beef or a pound of chicken? Beer or coffee? Find out.
Information is key. Find more informative recycling stats and then share what you've learned with your coworkers.
Videos are a great way to educate and engage. Email them to staff, show them at the start of a meeting, or organize a brown bag.
Only 5 minutes! You use paper towels to dry your hands every day, but chances are, you're doing it wrong. In this enlightening and funny short talk, Joe Smith reveals the trick to perfect paper towel technique. (Filmed at TEDxConcordiaUPortland.)
Where does our stuff come from, and where does it go after it we toss it in the trash? This engaging 20-minute video has been watch over 40 million times in the five years since it came out! Already seen it? Check out their other videos about electronics and cosmetics.
Sienna Skinner from Lensbaby, one of our gold certified businesses, shared her recipe for a counter and window cleaner:
“Put in a spray bottle and you're set! One of the things I love about this stuff is that you can use it with your regular kitchen sponge and not wonder what you're putting in the sponge you wash your dishes with. It's just vinegar!” – Sienna Skinner
Find more green cleaner recipes here.
It’s easier than you think! Check out this how-to poster. Make a big batch of guacamole, bring supplies, and encourage people to take home their soon-to-be plants, or keep them at work so co-workers can watch the evolution. (One of our coworkers tried this a few years ago, and her “desk plant” grew into a 4 foot tall avocado tree!)
How do you motivate people to reduce their energy? Watch this engaging, eight minute TED Talk, and find out. Then talk about how these ideas could be applied at your own workplace.
It takes all types of skills to make changes within your workplace. Take this quiz to see if you’re a Networker, Communicator, or Builder. Then talk with other members of your green team to see what they are, and how you can capitalize on each other’s strengths.