Greenify for the Winter Ahead

October 30, 2008

Now that the hot days of summer are past, its time to think about taking care of a few last minute household duties before the cold weather sets in and you want to stay inside to hide.  A good “once over” can Greenify the, home, business, and wallet all at the same time, going into the colder months. 

When was the last time you checked the filters on the furnace?  Dirty filters need to be changed once per month, otherwise they interfere with air flow and cause the furnace to work harder.  Better yet, switch to a permanent filter which will save on effort as well as expense.  Less in the dumpsters is a sign that greenification is at work.

And you know how your car gets a periodic tune-up?  Your furnace needs one, too.  Keeping the furnace clean, lubricated, and operating properly can save you up to 5% per month.  The best news is that many utility companies have repairmen that do such tune-ups for free, but you do have to get in line early because they often get backed up.

Mind that thermostat, too.  For every degree you lower it, you stand to save 1-to-3 percent on your heating bill.

Next check your caulking and weather-stripping.   Simple leaks can suck the life out of energy savings, by draining away 5 to 30%.  It pays to check for leaks around corners, chimneys, where pipes and wires go into the building.  You can do this easily using an incense stick: run a lit stick along the seams and see if the smoke line wavers.  If it does, you could be saving energy and money.

And here’s an old-fashioned idea whose time may come again in this economy: wear a sweater.  Roughly speaking, a light, long sleeved sweater is worth 2 degrees added warmth.  A heavier sweater could add as much as 4 more degrees in warmth.  Which means going green may give you a healthy glow in your pocketbook, too.


Greenify Your Office: Don't be a Paper Pusher

October 27, 2008

Cutting down on paper consumption is one of the best ways to Greenify your business. Have you ever thought about how much paper you use on a daily basis?  When dieters try to lose weight, they are often asked to keep a daily journal of what they eat. Try doing that with paper and you'll be shocked at how much you consume and how easily you can Greenify.

In 1961, average global per capita paper consumption stood at 25 kilogrammes or 55 pounds. By 2005, the figure had more than doubled to 54 kilogrammes or 119 pounds. That kind of conspicuous consumption leaves a large carbon footprint, but there are ways to chop that figure down.

When buying printer paper, look for recycled paper with a high percentage of post-consumer content and the minimum of chlorine bleaching. Even recycled paper gobbles up a great deal of energy, water, and chemical resources in its processing (toxic pulp slurry is the paper recycling industry's dirty secret). When using the real stuff, print on both sides of the page when appropriate and use misprints as notepaper.

Some employees still prefer to read things out of hand, on paper.  Encourage them to read their work on the computer by purchasing easy-to-look at non-glare computer screens and reminding them that every little bit helps.

Also, choose printers and photocopiers that do double-sided printing.   If your office ships packages, reuse boxes and use shredded waste paper as packing material.

Finally, make sure that paper recycling receptables are prominently and conveniently positioned for your employees and customers to use.  Nothing reminds so well as repetition and convenience.


Eastern European Leaders Want Climate Standards Eased

October 24, 2008

At a recent summit, leaders of eight Eastern European leaders pushed for a “less is better” package of climate standards, saying the current schedule of reducing greenhouse gas emissions will overburden their economies during the current downturn.

The Eastern European countries said the EU has to balance the wish for cleaner air against their “need for sustainable economic growth" at a time of "serious economic and financial uncertainties." They want to back away from greenification of the planet that we all share, to greenification of their countries finances.  The countries involved — Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia — released a joint statement on the issue.

"We can't say we'll get an agreement by the end of the year if our conditions are not met," said Mikolaj Dowgielewicz, Poland's European affairs ministers.
The recent financial turmoil has triggered fears of a global recession that make governments fearful of trying to get major polluters such as energy generators, steel makers and cement producers to pay fees in a “cap-and-trade” emissions scheme. (“Cap and trade” is when governing bodies set levels for emissions and any business that exceeds its cap trades or pays for extra allowances.) The proposal before the EU’s governing board would impose euro50 billion/US$68.8 billion a year in polluter fees. All of the EU’s 27 governments, including the eight countries challenging the proposal and the European Parliament have to approve the plan in order for it to become law. And many countries, some with more advanced democracies, say this is not the time to renegotiate. 

Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said the plan on the table now "represents the best possible compromise" and should not be changed. But the Eastern European leaders said their economies have made great cuts in carbon emissions since emerging from communism in the late 1980s and that "should be recognized" now. EU governments have been negotiating the package to Greenify during the past year, and it is hoped that any agreement would be endorsed by the end of 2008, and enacted by 2009.

In order to Greenify our planet, we will all have to make changes.  That includes Eastern European countries and their smaller but growing economies, as well as in our own struggling businesses and homes, which may prove a challenge during an economically difficult period.


A 'Cool' Way to Greenify

October 22, 2008

Have you looked in the company refrigerator for ways to Greenify?  That old fridge may be making things more comfortable for your employees, but sucking the life out of your efforts to make your company greener.
 
A refrigerator is one of the highest energy consuming appliances in most workplaces.  So let's talk about how to lower that energy bill. 

First off, consider where it is kept.   It's rather like Goldilocks and her three bears: it shouldn't be too hot, too dry, or too humid. Keep away from windows so that it's not exposed to sunlight. 

Also make sure there is plenty of room for ventilation around the unit.  About 4 inches on each side and in the back, with 11-12 inches clearance above.
 
Make sure the door isn't open too often.  And also go around the rubber seals once a month with a warm, sudsy cloth to ensure the seals work better longer.  If the door isn't completely close, you are wasting energy.
 
Defrost your refrigerator regularly.  A thick layer of ice forming in the freezer can lessen energy efficiency as the compressor has to use more electricity to keep the refrigerator cool.  Doing this will also prolong the life of the appliance.

And don't overload the fridge because that cuts off the air circulation, lowering efficiency and eating up electricity.  If you're going to be away for awhile, clean out the refrigerator, unplug it, and open the door.  You can extend the life of your refrigerator, lower your bills, and help Greenify all by checking what's in the fridge.


Go Green for The Holidays!

October 20, 2008

Have you thought about how sustainable giving could Greenify your business' holiday season?  Going green for the season means more than just putting up a tree. (We'll talk about that soon enough!)   But first let's consider your annual corporate gift giving?  If you plan now, there are new and better ways to give back to the environment. 
For instance, Renewable Choice gives you the opportunity to invest and promote projects to Go Green.  "Choice Bundles" are unique gifts that invest in wind power development and other forms of carbon dioxide reduction projects that "offset" to help leave the planet a little cleaner and greener for everyone.

At $25 per individual / $55 per family gift, they offset the price of home electricity, auto and flight emissions, even the cost of charging laptops and cell phones.

Another option for the more cost conscious among us are environmentally friendly shopping bags.  You can have them printed up by any of various companies with your company's logo or holiday greetings or both. 

Both of those gifts will need to be ordered well in advance, so start now.  But if you're going to need last minute Greenification gifts, we recommend memberships to any of the environmental groups we've known for years such as…

www.audobon.org (your donation can "go to the Birds!")

www.nature.org (protecting nature. preserving life)

www.sierraclub.org  (Outings with a cause!)

www.arborday.org  (your donation plants trees!)

www.worldwildlife.org  (concern for animals)

www.edf.org (The environmental defense fund)


Joining these groups and help us all have a green holiday season for years to come.   And if you haven't already, give yourself a great gift by joining the Green Business Alliance and help Greenify your office or home for years to come.


Greenify Your Business: It’s In The Can

October 15, 2008

Greenify your office in the most obvious way possible: get out those recycling sorting bins.  You need them to Greenify. And set a tone. Put them out where everyone can see you are Going Green.  Slightly messy?  All the better.  Shows folks you are using them.

Have you ever gone into a business carrying a can of soda that you finished on the premises and when looked around for the recycling bin, there weren’t any?

I have, and to be quite honest, I’ve been a little shocked.  In fact, I was so shocked that I have carried that can right back out with me in order to find the right place to recycle it.  With all the talk about the energy required to produce an aluminum can being enough to fuel a light bulb for an entire year, why aren’t we all recycling now?

No, we’re not.  And it’s so easy.  The bins are easily available in most office supply stores, or you can make them on your own by simply designating bins for aluminum, plastic, and paper.  Put the plastic and paper out on the curb in your local region’s recycling bins and consider taking the aluminum cans to be recycled at the local aluminum plant.  You might find your recycling byproduct (cash!) will provide enough “fuel” for a little company party every month or two.

There’s nothing like recycling grumpy employees with breakfast brought in or a spot of cake in the afternoon, right?  And think how impressed your customers will be with your efforts to Greenify your little corner of the planet!


New Car? No Thanks!

October 13, 2008

Word that a new vehicle that gets 65 mpg will soon Greenify foreign shores but not be offered to car-loving Americans was a bit of a shock, wasn't it?  We all want to Go Green, and the reasons why we won’t get a chance at 65 mpg seemed murky at best.  The facts: the car runs on diesel and Americans consider diesel both smelly and dirty, also the auto is built in Europe and considered too expensive to ship to the U.S.
 
But what about saving fuel the old fashioned way?  Can we do it even without a pricey new car that gets great mileage but strains our already-pained pocketbooks? 

How about if we Greenify the old-fashioned way?  Using a meal plan to organize our grocery shopping will optimize both time and gas consumption.  If we plan our meals, we can make do with only one trip to the store per week, down from three or four or even nightly grocery shopping.  It may not seem like a lot, but those little stops can add up and detract from energy savings.

It also may be time to get a bike for those short hops around the neighborhood.  Get on the bike to call the kids to dinner.  Adding a little exercise may subtract a few dollars from our weekly gas consumption, but it can also subtract pounds. 

And carpooling is on an echo wave.  Where else can you find time to get to know your friends and neighbors better, while conserving energy?  Pick the right carpooler and you’ll find yourself arriving at the office less stressed out and with a better outlook on the day and week ahead.

Do all these things and you may save as much money as that 65 mpg vehicle would have offered, while keeping your dependable older car and realize savings there, too.  And using a product completely fits our Greenifying goal, too.  


Greenify your Life: Keeping It Old School

October 10, 2008

The “good old days” weigh heavily on modern life, don’t they?  In some ways, people didn’t think about how to Greenify.  They went around polluting without giving a thought to the need to Go Green.

But they also didn’t throw things away as readily.  It wasn’t a disposable society.  So let’s borrow a few thoughts from our parents.

When was the last time you went to a library?  These days, some of us buy every movie that comes out without thought for the fact that we rarely watch a movie more than once or twice and that the technology is moving so quickly that we’re now moving from standard DVD’s to Blu-Ray discs and making all those old movies obsolete in the bargain.  (With one billion DVD players out there, consider the impact on landfill alone.)

How about we go back to the library system?  We reconsider reading.  Borrowing instead of buying saves on paper, ink and printing costs.  Libraries are free and they are gateways to an old fashioned pleasure.  Of course in many modern libraries, there is a DVD section.  We could also borrow DVD’s from friends and swap them around readily. 

Maybe it’s time to go back to the old neighborly practice of borrowing power tools and other appliances?  It cuts down on your garage clutter and your carbon footprint, while at the same time adding to good feelings in the ‘hood when you return them on a timely basis.


Carbon footprint of six every day products

October 8, 2008

Do you ever wonder what the carbon footprint is of a gallon of milk or a fleece jacket or a six-pack of beer? If so, there was a very informative article in Monday's Wall Street Journal (October 6th). It was the cover story of the Environment Report section. Jeffrey Ball took an in-depth look at the carbon footprint of six products. Six Products, Six Carbon Footprints. Products we all know and probably use. Do you have a guess at how many pounds a Prius emits? What about laundry detergent? To find the answers to these questions and more read the article. You may be surprised at the carbon output of some of these products. Enjoy!


Drip. Drip. Drip. Don’t Let Going Green Drip Away!

October 6, 2008

Are your efforts to go green leaking away a drop at a time?  A leaky faucet can lose as much as 50 gallons of water per day.  A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons per day.  And a properly operating but aging commode can use twice as much water as a newer one.
 
Water is one of our most precious resources and if you aren’t careful, it can ruin your business’ efforts to Greenify.   So let’s start with those sinks. If they are leaking, that’s easily spotted and you can quickly get a plumber on it. 

Turn off the faucet when you don’t need it.  If you’re filling several buckets, turn off the water in between. Saving just that much water on a regular basis can help.

What about a leaky toilet?  Check if your toilet is leaking by placing a drop of food coloring in the tank; if the color shows in the bowl without flushing, you have a leak. And if your toilet was made before 1992, it may use 3.5 gallons of water, compared to 1.3 gallon per flush on more modern toilets.  Replace it and save money over time.

Also check your sprinkler system.  Drip irrigation systems use 20 to 50 percent less water than conventional sprinkler systems. They are also much more efficient than in-ground sprinklers because no water is lost to wind, runoff, and evaporation. 

Finally check utility bills.  When the bill goes up, check with your local supplier or municipality to find out if water rates went up, or if your savings are leaking away.
 
Saving water is one way to Greenify that can pay off in more ways than one. 


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