GO GREEN - TIPS FOR SUPPORTING SUSTAINABILITY
If everyone just took a moment to ask themselves, “Is this the best choice for me, my environment, my family, or my community,” a huge shift would take place and everyone would eventually benefit by way of more quality goods and services that create a healthier economy, environment and eco system. Click on Links for Tips and Information.
CREATING A SUSTAINABLE WORKPLACE
Greening the office, classrooms, and meeting rooms is a great way to improve your personal sustainability as well as engage and educate your office workers, colleagues and students. This guide is based on the UCLA Center for the Study of Women green office practices. Click on Links for Tips and Information.
TIPS ON BEING GREEN
- There is no such thing as away - Recycle bottles, cans, and paper. By participating in curbside recycling programs and proper disposal of hazardous wastes, you will be diverting waste from the landfill and keep our water clean of pollutants.
- Don’t buy bottled water. Instead filter your tap water and use a reusable water bottle to carry it in.
- Consider purchasing products sold in metal and glass containers that can be recycled.
- Reuse cloth or other strong bags at the grocery and other retail stores. Keep bags in trunk of your car. Plastic anything clog up landfills and uses a large amount of petroleum to produce.
- Compost your garbage.
- Reuse containers and reduce consumption waste. Buy in Bulk where available. Ask yourself “Does that product I want to buy need to be packaged in all the plastic?”
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- Don’t be a drip. Be water wise - Southern California imports the majority of its water from other places, such as the Colorado River. Conserving water not only helps reduce the amount of water we need to import, but will conserve electricity.
- Conserve water by fixing a steady drip from your faucet that can waste 20 gallons of water per day or one from your toilet that can leak up to 200 gallons of water per day.
- Plant native California plants in your yard or garden that require less water.
- Use cold water and biodegradable, phosphate and petrochemical free soap for laundry.
- Turn off the water when you brush your teeth. Turn back on to rinse your mouth.
- Take a shorter shower.
Toxic Chemicals Elimination
- Indoor air quality can be more toxic than the air outside. - Replace toxic cleaners and chemical solvents with less toxic alternatives. (Try this: In the microwave, heat one to two ounces of lemon juice and two cups of water in a microwave safe bowl for two to three minutes. Wait ten minutes, open the door and dunk a cloth in the bowl and wipe out the microwave. Amazing, non-toxic results.)
- Use more natural soaps for hands, hair and body. (Antibacterial soaps aren’t as good as you might think. They contain pesticide based chemicals which can eliminate beneficial bacteria on the skin and are not healthy for the human body or the environment.)
- If you are considering vinyl siding for your home, research the harmful poisons that are put into the environment either by manufacturing or eliminating vinyl siding.
Transportation and Travel Impacts
- Get around more eco-friendly - Not only do cars kill more people then any other technology, but they are the biggest technology causing greenhouse emissions.
- Carpool or take public transportation. (If each commuter car carries one more passenger, an estimated 600,000 gallons of gasoline will be saved, and 12 million pounds of carbon dioxide will be kept of the air.)
- Walk or bike to work, if you live nearby.
- If you need to buy a car, consider a slightly used car with efficient fuel economy or go hybrid.
- Research companies that are or will be offering new fuel efficient cars.
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- Light up your life, while conserving energy - If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.
- Buy an energy efficient refrigerator as the majority of them consume 7% of our country’s electricity, which equals the output of about 25 large power plants.
- Save Money! Unplug “vampire” energy users such as chargers and small appliances that aren’t being used. (They drain electricity from wall sockets as they drain money from your bank account.)
- Wrap your water heater in a special made blanket that you can find at your local hardware store to insulate, save energy, and save money on the electric bill.
- Use rechargeable batteries in electronic devices such as pagers, toys, computer games, and radios.
- Be a green shopaholic! Your purchasing power can create social change on many levels from fair labor standards to reducing the amount of recyclable packing and toxic chemicals you bring home.)
- Vote with your green dollar.
- Buy locally produced goods as much as possible. (This can be done at farmer’s markets, or grocery stores, such as Whole Food, who post signs displaying locally produced produce.)
- Buy organic food and other organic products as much as you can. (Organic food doesn’t have to be expensive. Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Vons all carry their own brands of organic grains, produce, and more that are cost-effective.)
- Buy organic or shade grown coffee whenever possible. (The production of this coffee is much better for the eco system and better for you.)
- Support companies that are trying to make a difference environmentally.
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CREATING A SUSTAINABLE WORKPLACE
Green Purchasing Policy
There are environmentally preferable options for most, if not all, equipment and supplies commonly used around the office place. A green purchasing policy is an important component of a sustainable office.
What is green purchasing? - According to the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive (OFEE), Green Purchasing includes the acquisition of recycled content products, environmentally preferable products and services, bio-based products, energy and water efficient products, alternative fuel vehicles, products using renewable energy, and alternatives to hazardous toxic chemicals.
Some Purchasing Starters:
- Furniture with Forest Stewardship Council Certified Wood (http://www.fscus.org) The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) standards represents the world’s strongest system for guiding forest management toward sustainable outcomes. Buying furniture with FSC certified wood helps ensure that the wood used for the furniture was produced in a sustainable way.
- Only buy non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners: Green Seal – You don’t have to harm the environment in order to keep your office clean. There are many environmentally friendly cleaners. Check out these Green Seal Certified cleaning products (http://www.greenseal.org/findaproduct/index.cfm)
- Buy products with the highest percentage of recycled content as possible – There are hundreds of office products that have recycled content. Check out the top-picks from UCLA Sustainability of green office supplies at Office Max. ( http://www.sustain.ucla.edu/news/article.asp?parentid=509)
- Only buy Compostable or recycled consumables – If you need disposable plates, cups, and cutlery for various office events choose products that when disposed of have a lower impact. Compostable plates, cups, and cutlery are generally made from reusable resources such as corn or potatoes. If you chose plastic, make sure it is recyclable.
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Office Place Energy Reduction Measures
Here are some simple office place practices that can greatly reduce the amount of energy your office consumes:
- Turn off lights and power strips -
At the end of each day, make sure all lights and power strips are turned off. Electronic equipment, such as computers, draw electricity even when they are not in use. Plugging office electronics into power strips with an on/off switch provide an easy way to ensure power isn't being drawn by equipment when it is not in use. At the end of the day simply flip the power bar's switch.
- Use motion detectors for lights -
Motion detectors are a great way to avoid lights being left on.
- Use shades to regulate temperature and light - If your office has natural light, take advantage of it! During the hot summer months use the shades to keep the office cool. During cooler times keep the shades open and turn down the lights in the office.
- Ensure all fixtures have highest efficiency bulbs - The energy savings from high efficiency bulbs really add up.
- Use EnergyStar appliances - EnergyStar certified equipment uses less energy when in operation and when turned off. Replace old computers and appliances with EnergyStar certified equipment. Learn more about EnergyStar at http://www.energystar.gov/.
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Waste and Resource Reduction
The best way lower your office's ecologic footprint is to reduce the amount of resources your office consumes.
Use (and waste) less paper
- Organize files electronically. Rather than printing and filing papers, keep the files electronic (and don't forget to back them up).
- Print 2-sided. Many printers will print on both sides of a sheet. If not, simply print all the odd pages first. Then, put the paper back in the printer and print out the even pages. It might take a few tries to get it right, but once you have it, it's a snap!
- Save 1-sided printed paper. Don't toss papers you receive that have a blank side. Save them up and use them for internal office uses.
- Use Scrap paper for drafts and notes. Take that stack of 1-sided printed paper and stick it back in your printer, or cut it in half and make a great scratch pad!
Use mugs, glasses, and silverware
- Bring in some spare mugs from home. Relying on paper products for drinking and eating generates a lot of waste. Save the environment (and some money) by sticking to re-usable mugs, plates, glasses, and silverware in your office.
Get water filter for office sink or 2.5 gallon jugs
- A year's worth of water bottles really add up! If you have a sink in your office add a filtered water tap. It will reduce plastic bottle waste and save your office a few pennies too. If you don't have a faucet, buy water in large containers and re-use the containers!
- Consolidating orders can reduce the number of trips required for delivery and reduce the amount of packaging, which adds up to a lot of carbon!
Donate old furniture
- Any products that are still useful should be donated rather than trashed. Donate to a local thrift store or goodwill.
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Transporation Greening and Reduction Program
Transportation powered by fossil fuels is a large contributor to green house gas emission. Reducing and greening work-related travel can have a big impact.
Green the way your office's staff get to and from work
- Carpool Matching - Get matched with someone in your area to carpool with!
- Go Metro Tap Passes - Riding metro has never been easier. The tap passes are easy to use and subsidized by LAVC. You can save hundreds a year in monthly pass expenses. Check out the FAQ.
- Walk or Bike: Los Angeles has great weather. If you live close to campuswalking or biking could be a healthy alternative to driving.
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