EPA Slapped With Lawsuit 

You've been cooped up in your office all day long. Even though you've stocked your workspace with the most eco-friendly furniture possible and purchased reusable, recycled supplies, you still feel out of touch with the natural world. You decide to eat your lunch outside today, in order to feel a little better about your eco-standing.

However, as soon as you step outside your office doors, you are met with a chokingly-thick cloud of particle-filled smoke. That's right - the smoky haze traditionally covering coal-rich areas like China and Japan is now making its way over to the U.S., and environmentalists are suing the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to prevent it.

According to Earthjustice attorney Jennifer Chavez, the EPA has not met deadlines set by the Clean Air Act for controlling smoke and air pollution. The haze is now threatening the beauty of large national parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and the Great Smoky Mountain areas.

The lawsuit was just filed today, so EPA spokesman Nicholas Butterfield was not yet able to comment on its contents. It remains to be seen how the organization will deal with the charges, but part of the plan will be to establish environmental mandates for each state. State governments will be required to submit a plan detailing how they are dealing with the pollution problem, and what they plan to do to stop it.

Hopefully all of this drama will eventually lead to cleaner air for all of us.

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Nigeria's Environmental Losses Total $5.1 Billion 

Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, president of Nigeria, announced in a speech today that the country's annual losses stemming from environmental degradation total nearly $5.1 billion. This loss can be attributed to the constant exploitation of Nigeria's goods, as well as the increased urbanization of the formerly natural land spaces. The above picture of Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria, serves to demonstrate the effects these factors can have on the environment.

Yar'Adua spoke at the National Environmental Summit in Abuja, saying that the state of the environment is having a disastrous effect on the citizens of Nigeria, both socially and economically.

"Increased incidences of flooding across the country constitute clear evidence of stress and ecological imbalance in the environment of many of our community’s today,” said Yar'Adua. "Our key environmental challenge is to combat land degradation, deforestation and devastation, drought and desertification, loss of biodiversity, flooding, erosion, urban decay and municipal waste disposal and the adverse effect of climate change."

This news should be a warning to the U.S. that our economy will not be able to thrive unless we begin to invest in more sustainable systems of energy. Without these key ingredients, our business and corporate sectors are likely to collapse under the immense financial pressure of supporting fossil fuels. It only goes to show that our office life is directly effected by the environment, and vice versa.

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The No Impact Office 

Many of you are familiar with Colin Beavan, the environmental activist from New York City who decided to try a No Impact experiment for one year. Basically, he gave up pretty much anything even remotely energy-sucking, including plastic, cars, toilet paper, and so on, and documented his journey in a well-known blog.

Colin got us thinking: is there such a thing as a No Impact office? You're probably thinking "Uh, don't think so. How are we supposed to work if we can't even, oh, GET TO WORK?!" But Colin's experiment wasn't just about eliminating negative impact, it was about increasing positive impact as well. According to the No Impact website, his theory is as follows:

Negative Impact + Positive Impact = Zero.

No net impact. Get it?

So it's not that a No Impact office would have to give everything up necessarily, it would just need to find ways to contribute to the environment in a positive way (build trees, host eco fundraisers, etc). Intriguing.

If you're wondering, the results of this experiment were measured with a device like a TerraPass, which is a gadget that computes carbon emissions. Pretty handy, huh?

What do you all think? Based on Colin's philosophy, could a No Impact office exist? We're waiting to cast our vote until after the No Impact book and movie come out, but we're betting it wouldn't be that hard. And we'd be the first to offer to furnish it!

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The Green Office: Cleaning Your Heating Ducts 

Since many areas of the country received their first frost this past week, finding eco-friendly ways to heat your office space is top on everyone's mind. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently printed an article on the best way to reduce energy while still keeping your workplace nice and toasty: clean and maintain your heating ducts!

Although having your heating ducts cleaned does cost a small fee, this amount of money is peanuts when compared to how much you can potentially save on your heating bills. Basically, when your heating system is not maintained, the registers, coils, heat exchangers, and other small parts become covered in dust and particles. Along with blocking the flow of air, this buildup can eventually result in mold growth, which will then contaminate your breathing air.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends that ducts be cleaned on an as-needed basis, according to the following indicators:

*mold on the hard surfaces of heating and cooling registers
*workers experiencing new unexplained, allergies
*visible dust on the inside of your ducts

To keep your office heating ducts clean, change your filters regularly and make sure they are installed tightly. You should also vacuum your office often to remove airborne particles. Doing these quick and easy things can help to green your office for the upcoming winter season, and save you quite a bit of money in the end. Talk to your supervisor or maintenance team to explore your options further!

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Friday News of the Green 
It was inevitable, we suppose, as green goes mainstream and folks who walk the green talk look for inexpensive green shoes, that a national discount shoe store would offer customers green shoes .

Payless ShoeSource is launching a line of shoes designed to have a lower impact on the environment, joining a number of other footwear makers and retailers that have already done the same.
The company will start selling a line of shoes next year that are made with organic cotton and linen, hemp, recycled rubber and biodegradable glues. The line will include up to 12 women’s shoes, and Payless plans to expand the line to include shoes for kids and men.
The shoes will retail, on average, for less than $30, and will be available in about 500 of the company’s 4,600 stores, with select styles in about 1,000 stores. All will be available on Payless.com.

We’re all for inexpensive shoes, of course. And if they’re green, all the better. To be honest, we believe Payless’ shoe quality isn’t top-notch (and, really, who would argue?). So when the shoes get worn out – as they surely will, and quickly, too – at least they’ll decompose in landfills quickly....


Does a worldwide shipping company – and therefore a business that leaves a HUGE carbon footprint – that claims little “efficiencies” go a long way to saving big on carbon emissions, have a point?

In the case of DHL International, we think so.

The delivery behemoth has “set itself the ambitious target of cutting emissions by 30 percent by 2020 – a task made all the more challenging by the fact that the company’s global operations span 220 countries and boast 400 aircraft, 170,000 staff, 4,500 warehouses and other properties, and thousands of trucks.”

DHL plans to cut back on its emissions by “addressing the entire supply chain.”

It's about making a lot of small changes, [a company official] says. By focusing ruthlessly on carbon reduction in all parts of the supply chain we think we can do it.
Every reduction project DHL has undertaken as part of the initiative has also resulted in a reduction in operating costs, according to [a DHL executive], providing executives with the business case to push ahead with the program.

We can only hope that if DHL can reduce its emissions and carbon footprint as it hopes, other companies such as FedEx and UPS will follow suit.


Finally, here’s an idea for the ultimate in recycling – turn a 747 jumbo jet into a youth hostel .
The plane will be ready for guests in Stockholm, Sweden in December

From the beginning of December, hostel guests will, for the first time ever, be able to spend the night in a real, seasoned jumbo jet – on the ground This is the perfect way to start your trip abroad. The plane is a used out jumbo jet model 747-200 made in 1976. It has been awarded a brand new, modern interior decoration, offering night guests an experience apart. It’s exciting for aviation enthusiasts and families with children as well as for business people. This exhilarating experience leaves no-one indifferent –we promise.

Most of the 25 rooms (three beds each, with a few exceptions) have flat-screen TVs and access to wireless broadband. Just as in a flying plane, you’ll share your lavatory with other guests (although the “lavs” will be larger and will come with showers.
And, just as in the those flying jumbos, first class is upstairs, where a few private suites are located – and these have their own bathrooms.
For the ultimate in “staying in a converted jumbo jet” luxury, you also could rent the plane’s cockpit for an overnight stay. The hostel hosts converted the cockpit into a “de lux [sp] suite with parts of the original interior saved as curiosities.”

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