GET YOUR GREEN ON AT WORK: EARTH DAY

Celebrate Earth Day (April 22) year-round with these green workplace ideas.  A few of these changes may only be able to be implemented one day a year.  Others might be things you can work up to doing once a month, or even eventually once a week.  There may even be a few suggestions on this list you can start now and make a lifelong practice of your business or workplaces.

Saving Energy

We’ve all seen the energy efficient light bulbs at the store.  If you’re not using them, you should be.  EnergyStar.gov states that, if every American replaced one regular bulb with an Energy Star efficient bulb, greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by 9 billion pounds – the equivalent of emissions from 800,000 cars!  So, this Earth Day, try making the switch to compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs where feasible in the workplace.

Better still, turn stuff off at the end of the day.  Then, unplug it.  This goes for computers, coffee makers, fax machines, copiers, and any other electronics you have around the office.  Not only will this save electricity – it can save big bucks.  You can make this easier by investing in power strips so you can save money and the environment with the flip of a switch.

For workspaces with windows, implement some lights-out time during the sunniest part of the day.  Natural sunlight not only will reduce your power bill and save electricity, opening those blinds and soaking in the Sun’s Vitamin D will raise your employees’ spirits.

Experiment with changing the thermostat by one degree (up or down depending upon the season) to conserve energy.

Saving The Environment

For this Earth Day, have your employees work together to use less energy for their commute to work.  For those who live close by, walking and biking are great ways to save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and get a little exercise to boot.  If you offer telecommuting, make that option available this Earth Day.  Have your employees organize a carpool or take public transportation that day.  You might find you can adopt this practice for more than simply one day a year.

If your office hasn’t made the switch to recycling, start a new habit on April 22nd.  If you’ve already transitioned to recycle bins, take the next step in your recycling program by switching to recycled paper products, like copy paper and towels.  If your whole office can’t make the switch but you recycle at home, commit to saving your own cans, cardboard boxes, and glass bottles to take home for the recycle bin.

Other habits you can start this Earth Day to make a difference include refilling your water bottle for a week or bringing re-usable water bottles and coffee mugs to work.  Pack your lunch one day a week.  Not only will you cut down on waste such as Styrofoam take-out packaging and plastic flatware, you’ll save a little coin too.  Some folks are bringing personal hand towels to work to cut down on paper waste.  There are fast-drying towels on the market now which are sized perfectly for purses or bags.  Can you go paperless for a day?  How about using both sides of the paper for one day?  Start little, but think big.

Go Green – Literally

Add plants to your workspace.  Folks, there is no down side to this suggestion.  Plants are an inexpensive way to beautify the workplace, keep the air clean, and lower stress.  Plants generate fresh oxygen and soak up a lot of bad stuff you didn’t even realize you’re breathing.  NASA compiled a list of plants that are the best at removing toxins from the air – things like formaldehyde and benzene – that may be found in furniture, dry cleaning, inks, cleaners, plastics, detergents, etc.  So, consider adding these beauties to your workplace:

Add plants to your workspace.  Folks, there is no down side to this suggestion.  Plants are an inexpensive way to beautify the workplace, keep the air clean, and lower stress.  Plants generate fresh oxygen and soak up a lot of bad stuff you didn’t even realize you’re breathing.  NASA compiled a list of plants that are the best at removing toxins from the air – things like formaldehyde and benzene – that may be found in furniture, dry cleaning, inks, cleaners, plastics, detergents, etc.  So, consider adding these beauties to your workplace:

• Aloe Vera: It needs a sunny spot, but it also removes toxins and is good for cuts and burns.
• Spider plant: This plant is hard to kill – a prime choice for the black thumb who loves plants.
• Peace lily: These lovelies can grow with just indoor light and once-a-week watering.
• English ivy: You should look up what this removes from the air.  You’ll thank me.  I plan to buy 10.
• Bamboo palm: This plant thrives in the shade and can live in water if you choose to do it that way.

I recommend you check out NASA’s complete list to find the plants perfect for your office space.
So, this Earth Day, April 22nd, go do something green.  It’s easier than you think.  If you have any suggestions for going green at the office, I’d love to hear your views.

Vanessa Towarnicky's primary focus is in the area of labor and employment law. She has been involved in representing clients in various employment cases, including sexual harassment; deliberate intent; age, race, and disability discrimination; wrongful discharge; and various other employment-related torts. She is admitted to various state and federal courts as well as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.
 
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