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One of the most valuable lessons I learned growing up in Australia is how precious our resources are. In a small country like Oz, there is a respect for the land, respect for farmers who for decades made their living off the land, respect for a country that created wealth from the natural resources and respect for the earth to ensure it was there for future generations. As I grow up I saw this evidenced through practical activities like recycling, water conservation (Australia is currently experiencing its worst drought in 100 years), tree planting for soil erosion and many communities going to reduce plastic shopping bags.
I have noticed that lately being 'green' is a 'hot topic' of conversation, movies, magazine features, advertising and education – I think that is great! I believe the more we talk about it with our colleges and our communities the bigger impact we can have.
What does this have to do with productivity you ask? Simple really, if we are enjoying our environment (whether that be work or home) we are going to use less energy and focus more time and attention on the things that matter most. Here are a few simple ways you can increase your green productivity and reduce your footprint at home and work.
Turn off – remember before you leave your office to turn off anything that requires power ie your printer, photocopier, computer and lights. This will also have an added benefit of reducing your electricity bill.
Stop printing – encourage your team to question each time they press the print button – do you really need to print all those documents, emails, reports? Can you view documents online or print one for reference for a meeting instead of a copy for everyone? Think of clever ways to inform without needing to waste more paper.
Choose recycled paper – the quality of recycled paper is now high and is suitable for many projects. Instead of throwing away printed paper, ask yourself if you can use it again for internal use.
Use long life bulbs – can you replace your current light bulbs with longer life bulbs? Ask your office manager or office service to use more environmentally aware items for your office.
Place recycling bins on each floor – organize these for paper, plastic and aluminum. You can place recycling bins in the lunch room and also paper recycling bins in the mail room and on the floor. Encourage everyone to do their part.
BYO Coffee mug – instead of getting a new paper or Styrofoam mug from your local coffee store, take your own coffee mug and ask them to refill it for you. If we all did this we would remove so much waste from landfill.
Offer paperless to your clients – many companies have realized the cost and environmental impact of sending thousands of pieces of paper to their customers. Can you offer a paperless alternative? Smith Barney has taken this one step further and for each customer that goes paperless they donate funds to ERTHNXT
Use rechargeable batteries – this simple act will avoid dangerous lead batteries ending up in our land fill.
Offer flexibility – can your team work remotely? Can they job share? Can they travel at off peak hours? If you can allow telecommuting and flexibility this also has a huge environmental impact.
Use environmentally friendly cleaners – there are so many chemicals in our homes that are unsafe for our children and our pets. Choose a product that is non-toxic and environmentally aware.
Choose paperless – change your status with major utility companies and your telecommunications providers and request your statements and bills be emailed to you instead of posted. This small step has huge impact. It reduces paper, electricity use, fuel and labor.
Unsubscribe – remove yourself from mailing lists, journals, magazines and articles you do not read.
Buy a refillable water bottle – while bottled water is a healthier alternative to soda and some juices it is also creating a huge amount of waste in our land fill as each bottle is used and discarded. Find a non-toxic refillable water bottle that you can carry with you. Buy one for your car, your office and your gym bag.
Compost – just like you recycle paper and plastic; think about creating compost for your grass clippings, vegetable peelings, old flowers and leaves.
Choose plants with variety of purposes – choose plants that can support the birdlife, create a visiting place for butterflies and provide flowers.
Drink tap water – at restaurants and cafés, ask for tap water instead of bottled water. It is OK to drink and will save on land fill, manufacturing, not to mention fuel carting it from one side of the country to another. It is an easy choice to make.
Test your home for lead – if you have an older home ask for an expert test for lead. This simple act is also a great protection for your children to avoid lead poisoning from paint and old style windows.
Eliminate air fresheners – those plug ins and other air freshener products are full of chemicals and not necessary in your home. Make your home healthier by removing these and replacing them with soy candles or pump bottle air fresheners made of non-toxic products.
Recycle – ask your trash company to provide you with recycling bins. Yes it does cost more, but it is a great way to make a difference in your home and to role model to your children the value of this daily habit.
Buy organic – where possible choose products that have been grown naturally, without chemicals and with more awareness of natural breeding and living conditions for the animals.
Buy local – get to know your local Farmers Market and produce stores. If we all buy more locally we support our communities and avoid those huge tractor trailers sitting on the freeways burning fuel and causing more damage. It is fun to spend a Saturday morning investigating what the local farmers have grown and it tastes 10000% better than something that has been picked green and left to ripen in cold rooms and on trucks.
Select your supermarket – many major supermarket are choosing to support their local farmers and produce ie Wholefoods and Wegmans in the US and Coles in Australia. Choose to support these grocery chains. Look for an organic line of items at your local grocery store.
Stay no to plastic bags – invest in a few fabric tote bags and carry them with you to the store. Leave them in your car to remind yourself to take them to store. Say no to all plastic bags, these do not break down and cause damage to our landfill, our oceans and our wildlife.
There are so many ways you can help our environment but making small daily choices. While this list is not exhaustive there are many great websites and books dedicated to this topic. Check out your local bookstore for more resources. Check out the following books and websites:
Green Living: The E Magazine Handbook for Living Lightly On the Earth