OK, pop quiz: What does every office have?
Answer: A coffee pot. Truly, have you ever been to a place of business that didn’t smell just a little like a cup of java. And those of you who work from home probably have a coffeemaker in the kitchen.
Even a small business most likely goes through three to five pots of coffee each day – that’s at least 15 pots of coffee each work week. And where do the coffee grounds probably end up: in the garbage can.
In an effort to make your office – whether it has 200 employees or 2 – a little greener, give those used coffee grounds a new mission. Coffee grounds are great plant food, can be used as mulch and are a perfect addition to your compost pile.
Here are some great tips on how to use coffee grounds.
By reusing coffee grounds, you’re cutting down on office waste and giving Mother Nature a helping hand.
The key to this idea is making it easy for your employees to get involved.
• Save the bags the coffee came in and dump the grounds (filters can be used in a compost pile too) back into those bags. Your employees can take them home and use them in their gardens or in their own compost piles.
• If you have a landscape crew, talk with it about how you can use the coffee grounds in the flowerbed or on the lawn.
• Contact your local horticulture group or garden club – they just might be willing to come by your office once a week and pick up your grounds.
Encourage your employees to compost at home. According to the EPA, yard trimmings and food waste together account for 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That’s a lot of trash that could be put to a better use. Check out this EPA site on how to start composting.
So, fire up the coffee pot, but think twice before dumping the grounds.
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5 Eco-Resolutions to turn the New Year into a Green Year:
1. Bye-bye bottles. Give your employees reusable water bottles and encourage them to cut back on buying bottled water. You might also consider purchasing custom bottles imprinted with your company logo – what a great gift for customers or clients.
2. Paper cuts. Look into creating an intranet or file share system to make it easy for employees to share electronic files. Distribute company memos, newsletters or phone lists via e-mail rather than printing a copy for each employee. Start a recycled paper box where employees can old reports or memos for printing on the blank side.
3. Telecommuting tactics. Take a serious look at telecommuting and how you can make it work for your business and employees. What would happen if each employee worked remotely one week a month or a couple of days each week? Plus, it’s a perk for employees who want to check their e-mail in their PJs and bunny slippers.
4. Buy less. We live in a consumer culture, filling our homes and offices with items we don’t really need. Try ordering fewer pens, paperclips or file folders (you’re using less paper anyway).
5. Furniture finds. Check out green office furniture and green office supply products – this can be everything from furniture that is free of harmful chemicals to recycled paper and recycled ink cartridges.
If you make these five steps in 2009, think of how much smaller your carbon footprint could be. Plus, you’re setting a good example for your employees who just might start thinking a little greener at work and at home.
Here are a few more easy green tips from thedailygreen.com.
Do you have other suggestions for eco-resolutions? Let’s hear ‘em!
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this : “...kitchen operations use five times more energy than the rest of the building.”
“Meanwhile, all of the disposable cups, utensils, food packaging and food leftovers generate millions of pounds of kitchen-related waste that goes out the door every year.”
Which means, the Greenbiz.com article continues, “the typical cafeteria represents a huge opportunity for companies to target in their next big green initiative.”
Microsoft, for example, once “used and threw away” more than 24 million polystyrene cups a year.
But no more. Now the software giant uses paper products – cups, plates, and so on – made from plant starch, which means the items are very biodegradable.
“The company now uses only plant starch-based compostable paper cups, and has since replaced all plates, bowls and even utensils with compostable products. That prevents 20.3 million pieces of cutlery, 18.5 million bowls and plates, and 22.1 million cups from going into landfills each year, or the equivalent of 109 tons of plastic.”
(We’ve seen and used these cups and plates and we can attest to the fact that they are, indeedy yes, very biodegradable. Leave a cup overnight on your desk and you’ll come back in the morning to see the lip and a portion of the side starting to turn brown, as in, it’s started to degrade already, fer cryin’ out loud )
But we digressed.
Seriously, we cheer anything that can keep tons of plastic from landing in a landfill and staying there for years upon years. All hail cornstarch
Staying with a plastics theme, of sorts, it appears, Swiss company Recycline has given those ubiquitous plastic water bottles a new life as....new things.
Recycline has taken products made of polyethylene terephthalate (also known as PET) and
made them into different useful objects. Candle holders. A slender magazine rack. A bottle bank. Vases. Sand-filled dumbbells. Napkin rings. And even into... water bottles.
And, lastly, and ending with a Christmas theme, why not build yourself a gingerbread house this holiday season? But we’re not talking just any ol’ gingerbread house. Why not get together with the kiddoes and make yourself what Treehugger.com is calling a “McMansion” gingerbread house
We like to talk about sustainable building here at GreenOfficeProjects.com. But this gingerbread building would “sustain” itself around our house for, oh, maybe a day or two once Mom gave us permission to dig on in.
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A proponent of reducing energy consumption in buildings, Peter Chee is using thermal imaging to help reduce his carbon footprint. The CEO of Thinkspace in Redmond, Wash., has a neat blog post about this technique and a photo of his building indicating where heat is leaking out – mostly around windows and doors.
We all love a window-filled office space – not to mention how the natural light can reduce the use of electricity – but it’s easy for warm or cool air to slip out around those windows.
You might want to consider taking a thermal image of your building, particularly if it’s older. Or think about having an energy audit. Some organizations offer these for free. For example, non-residential customers interested in California Solar Initiative incentives will receive a free energy audit from the California Center for Sustainable Energy to determine if they qualify for the program.
If you’re considering purchasing or leasing new office space, make a stop at Optimal Home Location. Geared toward individuals, we think businesses could make good use of this green tool too. You enter addresses of places you visit frequently – work, school, daycare, the gym – and the Web site offers up an “optimal home location.” This is best place for you to live based on commuting and green living.
This is a great tool to share with your green employees who might be considering a move. Figure out the best and shortest commute, which saves gas and your sanity because you’re not spending hours in traffic. Find neighborhood amenities and determine how you could walk to restaurants, entertainment venues and the local Starbucks. This is great for businesses whose employees would like to walk to lunch spots, the dry cleaners or just get some fresh air and take a stroll.
Here’s an interesting commuting tidbit from the Web site: “10 extra miles per day means around 100 additional hours and $700 more in gas price per year.” Wow. That extra $700 would come in handy for other green initiatives, such as weatherizing leaky windows and doors.
Today’s Green Thumbs Up goes to MassMutual, which has started the application process to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings certification for its headquarters in Springfield, Mass. The company will replace more than 500 plumbing fixtures and create more efficient lighting, making its 1.4 million square-foot facility super green. In addition to green water chillers and a more energy-efficient data center, MassMutual plans to purchase eco-friendly office furniture. Seeing how that’s our business, we give a Green Thumbs Up to MassMutual!
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Aside from the obvious focus on sustainability and the environment, what exactly are green-collar jobs? A good ‘ol dictionary.com definition offers that green-collar jobs are “pertaining to a working class in the environmental or agricultural sectors.” Is this just a fancy term for “tree-huggers” or a way for politicians to appear as if they are adding more jobs to the economy?
Photo courtesy GreenForAll.org
The American Solar Energy Society released a report last month called “Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: Economic Drivers for the 21st Century” that indicates one in four U.S. workers will have a job in the renewable energy or energy efficiency industries by 2030.
These industries already generate 8.5 million jobs, a figure that could grow to 40 million jobs by 2030 – with the appropriate public policy, the report states.
This report defines the energy-efficiency sector as including everything from energy-efficient windows and appliances to insulation and recycling. Also, “solar, wind, ethanol, and fuel cells are likely to be some of the hottest areas of growth.” Read more or download the full report online .
Here’s an interesting article from BusinessWeek about people in the middle of their careers who decide to make a switch to greener pastures. According to this piece, many people take something they already know, color it green and turn it into a profession.
Plenty of business groups and nonprofit organizations are getting behind the green-collar movement.
The Apollo Alliance is a San Francisco-based coalition of business, labor, environmental and community leaders with a mission, in part, to expand green job opportunities. The organization just last week proposed an economic recovery strategy to “immediately create or retain 650,000 direct green-collar jobs and an additional 1.3 million indirect jobs in communities across the country.”
According to the Alliance’s Web site, the proposed “Apollo Economic Recovery Act” is a response to President-elect Barack Obama’s call for a “big stimulus package” in January to “jolt” the economy and “lay the groundwork for long- term, sustained economic growth.” You can read more or download the full proposal online .
A coalition of environmental and conservation organizations crafted a report called “Transition to Green” with recommendations for the new administration. Download the full report here.
The Green For All movement sees green-collar jobs as a way to lift people out of poverty. Based in Oakland, Calif., the organization is advocating for a government commitment to job creation, training and entrepreneurial opportunities in the green job sector.
With millions of people working in the green sector – or thinking about working in the green sector – surely that means more offices will be going green. You can hardly call yourself a green-collar worker and not recycle office paper or drink your coffee in Styrofoam cups. And working in a LEED-certified building sure wouldn’t hurt.
So the creation of more green-collar jobs is great news for the green office movement. With more individuals thinking about how they can have a green career, they’ll be spreading green through all aspects of their lives, including their cubicle.
Share your ideas on what it means to be a green-collar worker. Do you have a green job? How did you land in that position?
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