ENVIRONMENT: Turn off your screen saver! And other easy ways to flex your conservation muscle

Protecting natural resources, conserving energy, and saving business dollars need not be considered mutually exclusive.

Earth Communications Office (ECO), a non-profit group headquartered in Los Angeles that uses mass communications to deliver environmental messages to billions, believes that American businesses of all sizes can voluntarily play a key role in protecting our environment.

By practicing these simple tips, ECO says businesses can benefit the planet and themselves.

1. “OFF” IS THE BEST SCREEN-SAVER

Many don’t realize that monitors suck up the majority of the energy used to fuel computer systems. Screen savers protect your screen, but waste energy. Even if your business requires that your computer remain on at night, taking a second to switch off the monitor before you leave at the end of the day can save energy and dollars. Make it a company-wide policy: “Off” is always the best night-time screen-saver.

2. SUPPLY BY DEMAND

Before buying mass quantities of office supplies, stop to think. Is your business really going to use that, or will it be gathering dust in a supply closet? Purchase recycled products or check electronic items for indicators of energy efficiency such as the Energy Star logo. You can also check out Energy Star’s website at www.EnergyStar.gov for a complete listing of appliances and equipment that make the grade, environmentally.

3. CEASE THE PAPER CHASE

Keep paper out of landfills by using e-mail and electronic files to communicate whenever possible. Also, be sure to always buy recycled paper for photocopies and stationary. A ton of recycled paper requires 60% less energy and 50% less water to produce than paper made from virgin stock. It has been calculated that 88 million tons of paper are deposited annually at dumpsites. Lastly, and most importantly, recycle your office’s used paper as much as possible. Less than 20% of office wastepaper generated in the U.S. today is recovered for recycling.

4. THINK FLUORESCENT

Incandescent bulbs consume 75% more energy than compact fluorescent bulbs. Replace as many light bulbs as you can with compact fluorescent bulbs. There are also new technologies that can further reduce the energy use of fluorescent fixtures.

Occupant sensors, which turn lights off in unoccupied areas at a one-time cost of about $40 provide tremendous energy savings for office restrooms and conference rooms. Remember, one fluorescent bulb, in its lifetime, prevents a half ton of carbon dioxide from invading our atmosphere and will lower your electric bill.

5. DIP INTO A CARPOOL

Cars choke us and our atmosphere, but there are lots of ways to cut back. Carpool to work or launch an office ride share program at the office. Best of all, create an alternative work schedule program such as telecommuting or flex time. These programs can shift work hours away from peak traffic times.

6. USE “CLEANER” SUPPLIES

Find out what’s in the stuff being used to clean your office and workplace. The evaporation of commercial and consumer solvents contribute half a million tons of toxic chemicals into our air every year. When buying cleaning products, try to make sure they’re 100 percent natural and biodegradable and do not contain phosphates, chlorine, dyes or scents.

7. DON’T TOSS INKJET CARTRIDGES

Over 71.3 million inkjet cartridges are used each year in the United States and every second, two inkjet cartridges are thrown away somewhere in the United States. Recycling inkjet cartridges saves oil, energy and landfill space.

Many office supply stores and computer stores will recycle your toner and inkjet cartridges. Hewlett Packard offers free recycling of empty inkjet cartridges. For more information on the program visit their web site at http://hpijc.startek.com.

8. CONSIDER THE ALTERNATIVES

One of the ways companies can have a positive impact on the environment is by choosing to purchase power from green energy providers. The term “green power” is used to define power generated from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower and various forms of biomass.

This may sound unusual on the surface, but consider successful organizations such as Toyota Motor Sales, Patagonia, Sony Music, Birkenstock Shoes, Southbay Surf and Skate, Seacoast Electric, Imperial Hardware, The Coffee Works, Fetzer Winery, Air Touch Cellular, Real Goods, Kaiser Permanente, MCI Worldcom, and Lucky Brand Dungarees–all are companies who buy renewably generated power to meet their energy needs.

9. GIVE YOUR OFFICE BUILDING A TUNE-UP

Building technologies have been advancing at a striking pace over the past decade. It is now possible to perform upgrades that reduce energy use by up to 50 percent, regardless of the size of your office. If your building’s light and heating/cooling systems are more than 10 years old, you could potentially see big savings by upgrading them. Poorly insulated windows, for example, account for as much lost heating energy as the amount of energy flowing through the Alaskan pipeline annually.

10. MAKE YOUR EFFORTS PUBLIC

Have your company or a group of small businesses that share a building pool together adopt an environmental group or local place to clean, such as streams, parks or beaches, or plant some trees.

For more information, go to www.oneearth.org. BN

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