Water Conservation is Important in the Workplace

When considering eco topics in relation to the workplace, energy efficiency usually comes to mind before water conservation.  However, experts agree water conservation is equally if not more important.  Here is startling statistic on water:

“Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water or about 0.007% of the entire world’s water supply is available for human use (that’s approximately one teaspoon of water out of a full bath tub).”

It is crucial that industries and public institutions get serious on water conservation.  Water is used in schools, commercial buildings, recreational facilities, and many other workplaces in watering gardens, in the manufacturing process, in the cleaning of floors and equipment, in the cooling of buildings, and of course, in toilets and wash rooms. Of all the water used in major cities, those industries and institutions account for 25% of the use.  So if businesses banded together, there could be a significant difference made in water quality and conservation.

Here are some ideas for small and medium sized businesses could start conserving water:

  • Turn of unnecessary flows to equipment and machinery
  • Switch to low-flow automatic faucets within the facility
  • Install low-flow toilets in each restroom
  • Limit or reduce the watering of lawns or consider xeriscaping
  • Use non-potable water to water flowers and plants
  • Use non-toxic and biodegradable cleaners and solvents
  • Offer filtered water to employees and costumers instead of purchasing bottled water
  • Make your staff aware and involved in the conservation efforts, perhaps by offering water conservation training

None of these things may seem like they would have a big effect on the conservation effort.  But if enforced and sustained, these changes, over time will make a difference. If you would like more ideas on saving water or have any questions about water conservation, please feel free to contact us.

Supporting Bike To Work Programs

If your company is looking for ways to foster employee engagement on sustainability practices — and your employees care about saving money, the environment and their own health — you’d be hard pressed to find a better way than supporting a bike to work program. Often employers — and employees — don’t know where to start. Here’s a few ways you can seed interest and launch a successful bicycle commuting program at your business.

Survey Says! Get the best information you can about your employees’ current commuting habits; take a survey and collect data such as how far away they live, who already commutes by bicycle, and who might like to try it out. For those that are already commuting by bike, ask what facilities and support they want to see you implement.

Get Started Training. Some employees might find the notion of biking to work daunting, not knowing what equipment they need, how to dress, even what routes they could take to stay safe. Plan a workshop session for your staff that features veteran bicycle commuters, either from your own company or the local bike shop. Focus on gear, safety, and route-finding (don’t forget Google Maps’ bicycle directions feature!).  Community Cycles, based in Boulder, offers some great information and training for businesses.

Give Bikes a Home. Bicycle commuters of all stripes want to know there’s a place to safely store their wheels during work. If you can handle the minimal space requirement, there’s nothing better than just bringing the bike into the office — it’ll take up about the same space as a couple of chairs against the wall. Alternately designing secure spaces — a room devoted to bicycle storage, or even individual bike lockers — will go a long way toward reassuring employees you support their green commute.

Support the Appearance. If your employees live nearby, they’ll probably barely break a sweat biking to work. But for the rest of them, the need for a professional appearance at work is a major perceived roadblock to bicycle commuting. Providing showers and lockers is the best way to go, but you can also work with what you have — an empty office can become a dressing area, hooks on the backs of doors or spare closets can hold several days’ worth of clean clothes. Make the initial effort, and wait for the response and add amenities as needed.

For more ideas on bicycle commuting and other workplace sustainability practices, please feel free to contact us.

Creating a Healthier Work Environment by Using Non-Toxic Cleaners

According to an article by Safer Statesnearly each day, four million people in the United States… are exposed to toxic chemicals in their workplace on a daily basis. What’s worse is that this number is only counting towards the people in direct contact with the chemicals- like janitors, landscapers, and groundskeepers.  Now imagine what the statistics jump to once you include all the people who indirectly work around those chemicals- like all the employees who work in your office.

Here are some tips for how to switch to eco-friendly products that will still make your office as clean and beautiful, but without the negative effects on the environment or your health:

  • Use eco-friendly cleaning products– these cleaning products recommended by the EPA are generally bio-based which means that they break down easily in the environment and do not omit toxic or other harmful substances into the air.
  • Use an eco-friendly vacuum cleaner– these vacuum cleaners actually help improve indoor air quality by using HEPA filters that can trap nearly 100% of airborne particles.
  • Use eco-friendly fertilizers and de-icers right outside the office to keep the walkways clear in the winter and the lawns lush and green in the summer, all while reducing the amounts of pollutants seeping into the air and ground.
  • Add plants to your office.  Not only do plants add a sense of beauty and hominess to a workplace, they also add to an eco-friendly environment by absorbing air pollutants.

Contact us today and talk to our eco consultants about how to transform your office environment into a healthy work environment.

Green Ideas to Green Your Business

Long gone are the days when a recycling bin or a catchy slogan sent the message to your employees that your company cared about the environment. You’ve talked the talk about your business’ sustainability practices, now it’s time to implement. Here’s a couple of quick ideas for you to green your business operations;

Encourage Carpooling. Carpooling is as old as commuting itself, but it’s also an exceptionally straightforward way to cut down on carbon emissions. Each participant in a carpool completely takes that person’s tailpipe emissions out of the air that day, and reduces the need for parking. But don’t just tell employees you value carpooling, show them — help them with ride-share matching, and incentivize carpooling with reduced-cost (or free) parking in better spaces. And consider programs such as prize drawings to reward your carpoolers; discounts, swag, or even cash.

Ban the Bottle. Sure, everyone knows most plastic water bottles are recyclable. But “recycle” comes after “reduce” and “reuse.” Many businesses — and some municipalities — are retrofitting their old drinking fountains to include bottle-filling stations, eliminating the need for countless bottles to even be manufactured. These fixtures are available from most of the major drinking fountain suppliers, and deliver cool, clean water into a user-supplied reusable cup or bottle.

Support Bike to Work. According to the League of American Bicyclists, the number of people biking to work in the last few years has gone from impressive to staggering — up 75% in New York City, 110% in San Francisco and 144% in Portland since the last census. Don’t stop at putting a bike rack out front; consider setting aside safe indoor spaces for cyclists to store bikes easily, and make sure you have facilities in place (or nearby) so employees can “freshen up” in plenty of time to start work.

For more ideas on sustainability in the workplace, feel free to contact us.

The Three P’s of Recycling in Your Workplace

According to the EPA, the average person generates about 4 1/2 pounds of trash every day. While much of this is household waste, a good portion is generated in workplaces as well. After all, many Americans spend a majority of their day at their jobs. Eco-conscious business owners have a responsibility to provide a means for managing and recycling waste responsibly.

The Three P’s of Workplace Recycling assists organizations in getting started:

People: People are the number one component of the success of your business. Recycling efforts are no different. Get your team on board by letting them know that waste reduction is a priority. They need to be involved, willing and able to participate. You can help make recycling more efficient through the other two P’s, but without your people doing their part, your efforts will fall flat.

Process: You need to put a process in place to collect and dispose of recyclables and compostables. Who’s going to be in charge of emptying the containers and taking items off-site? Where will the items ultimately end up? Will there be some kind of monitoring and accountability system? How will you recognize and reward participation and efforts that go beyond what is required? These are some of the questions you have to consider to make sure that recycling and composting enhances your business operations.
Place: The saying “A place for everything and everything in its place” is true for recycling as well. You’ll need clearly-labeled containers for different types of recyclables and compostables that your business generates. Here are some suggestions for what items may be recycled from different areas of your workplace:

Cafeteria, Kitchen or Lunch room. (Most of these type of materials are usually collectable from most community based recycling programs)

  • Metal – aluminum foil, beverage cans
  • Cartons – milk and juice tetra-pak containers
  • Glass bottles
  • Plastics – #1-7, plastic bags, shrink wrap
  • Paper bags

Office Equipment and Electronics (These type of items need to be recycled through certified e-waste recyclers)

  • Fax machines
  • Computer mice, monitors, keyboards; Laptops
  • Copiers and printers; toner cartridges
  • CDs, DVDs
  • Phones

Paper (Most of these materials can either be recycled or composted. Check your local recyclers guidelines)

  • Books, phonebooks, catalogs
  • Magazines
  • Mail, Manila envelopes
  • Cardboard
  • Packing boxes
  • Office paper, shredded documents

Miscellaneous (These materials are considered hard-to-recycle items and usually are not picked up recycling programs. Go to Earth911 or National Recycling Resources to find ways to recycle these type of items)

  • Packing peanuts
  • Styrofoam packaging
  • Light bulbs
  • Batteries

Contact us to learn more about how you can apply the Three P’s of Recycling in your workplace