[Green Girl] Growing a Greener Inbox


OK, you've ditched the bottled water habit, unplugged all your home electronics when they're not in use, and started a compost pile in your back yard. Pat yourself on the back for making the effort to get greener at home. But don't forget that some of your biggest waste may actually be at work.

Energy and Water Conservation
Find out who is in charge of utilities, and suggest fluorescent bulbs, faucet aerators, low-flow toilets, timed thermostats and other conservation measures. Even if you don't make much headway on the first contact, keep the conversation going, and get your fellow employees interested, too. You may find, for example, that the majority of people in the building agree that the air conditioning is too cold in the summer. Encourage your co-workers to call maintenance to complain when they feel too hot in the winter and too cold in the summer.

Purchasing Power
Look at the office supplies your company buys, then talk to the person in charge of purchasing. Find out what products he or she regularly purchases and at what cost. Ask your supervisor for permission to create a catalog of alternative products in a similar price range, including recycled printing paper, furniture made from sustainably forested lumber, energy-efficient computers, toilet paper made from recycled paper and soy-based printer inks. If you can't find new office furniture made from sustainable wood locally, look for used furniture first, or order furniture online. Don't forget to encourage the purchase of green gifts such as organic fruit baskets for clients and eco-friendly products such as shade-grown free-trade coffee for the break room.

Company Travel
If possible, avoid long-distance travel to business meetings by telecommuting. Encourage your company to buy the necessary technology by emphasizing the larger savings on travel costs. When travel is unavoidable, rent or borrow a small vehicle with high gas mileage, and carpool with others going to the same meeting. Flying is less desirable than carpooling in a fuel-efficient car because of the amplified effects of greenhouse gases released higher in the atmosphere. If you must fly, purchase carbon offsets for the flight.

Does your company have a recycling program? If so, talk to the person in charge and find out how it is going. Pinpoint problems, and help come up with an educational program to encourage further participation and expansion. If your company does not offer a recycling program, ask your supervisor if you can spearhead the efforts to start one. Your company may actually be able to make money by selling its recyclables.

At Your Desk
Not all offices will be receptive to a green makeover, even if you can demonstrate the long-term savings. But don't give up. Instead, focus your energy on how you can make your own desk greener. Start at the most basic level. Turn off your lights, computer and other electronics when you leave for lunch, for a long meeting or at the end of the day. Encourage your co-workers to do the same. Dress in weather-appropriate clothing and bring layers to ensure your comfort regardless of the temperature in the office. Grow a few air-cleaning plants on your desk or windowsill. Some good inside plants include English ivy, spider plants, philodendrons and peace lilies. Bring your own mug and water bottle. Talk to co-workers about pooling funds to buy an office water-filtration pitcher. Bring a bin or box for your own recycling, and take it home at the end of each week to put out in your home recycling bin. Don't print out unnecessary papers, and send memos via e-mail when possible. Find someone in your neighborhood who works nearby and start a carpool.

By talking to a few people, doing a little research and taking some small steps at your own desk, it is easy to make your office a little more earth-friendly. And I think you'll find that when you get more involved at your workplace, you'll even make some new friends along the way.

Local Resources
114 Millsaps Ave.
Look here for used furniture.

Office Depot
4950 I-55 N.
Look for recycled paper and refill your ink cartridges here.

Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality
Recycling and Solid Waste Reduction Program
2380 Hwy. 80 West

Online Resources


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