Used Business Equipment: Go Green

March 11, 2009

 If your business is like most American businesses, you’ve got lots of technology backing it up: computers, fax machines, printers, and other office equipment.  But when those systems fail, maybe it’s time to make those electronics, if you’ll pardon my literary license, ride off greenly into the sunset. 

At the recent Greener Gadgets Conference sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association, keynote speaker Saul Griffith, founder of Low Cost Eyeglasses and Squid Labs said that we “must embrace a culture of maintenance and repair since the throw away option is no longer available.”

Electronics such as computers, telephones, televisions and the like are responsible for both cluttering up our landfills and releasing toxic chemicals into the environment as they slowly breakdown.  How about when it’s time for used electronics and spent computer-related items to go, we send them off in a greener direction. 

For instance:
Cell phones: most cell phone manufacturers have recycle programs.  You can send them back to their makers who will either refurbish and resell them, or use them for spare parts.  You can also donate them to various charities or sell them for a little extra change online.  (If you do this, make sure that you remove all of your data.  We’ve all heard the nightmare stories, haven’t we?)

iPods: return old iPods to the manufacturer.  Apple will refurbish and recycle them or sell them for spare parts.

Computers and printers: return them to manufacturer when you buy the new one.  Many stores have a “trade in” as part of a sales deal to entice you in.  You can also turn them over to schools, charitable groups, libraries or churches. (Just have to make sure to get all the personal information out of the computer before you release it.)

Printer cartridges: *always* get recycled.  Even the small home-use ones are routinely sold with mailing envelopes for recycling.

TV’s: Millions of TV’s will be set out on the curb this year.  The “digital conversion” that has now been delayed to June has inspired many people to get new HDTV’s. Sometimes stores will remove the old set when they bring the new one.  Also because of the HDTV phenomenon, cash value for old tv sets is neglible.  Try freecycle.com. Or again, try the charitable groups and churches. 

You can see your business’ used equipment “go green” this year, with just a little extra effort on your part.


Make It Your Business to Green Your (Air) Space

March 9, 2009

When you arrived at your place of business this morning, did you breathe deep and hope that the air was clean… and green?  What if instead of buying an expensive (and energy consuming) air purification system, you could add plants and get some of the same healthful effects?  You remember from sixth grade science class about how humans breathe oxygen and release carbon dioxide, while plants need carbon dioxide and release oxygen?  If plants are constantly renewing our air, wouldn’t it be great if adding a few living plants could help clean the air at work?

Some scientists say that adding common houseplants can help clean the air at a business or at home.  That’s because many plants function as natural air filters, cleaning contaminants out of indoor air and improving the quality of what you are breathing.

The scientists say that their studies have found that some common plants are effective at removing toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, benzene and other natural pollutants from air, particularly helpful in enclosed areas.  These studies were first reported by NASA over two decades ago. 

Dr. Bill Wolverton, one of the NASA scientists who was involved in the original studies recommends plants like Peace Lily, Areca Palm, Lady Palm, Ficus Alii, and Golden Pathos, because they are easy to take care of and among the most effective at naturally removing pollutants.

And there’s more.  University of Georgia researchers searching for floral purifiers suggest Purple Waffle Plant, English Ivy, Purple Heart, Foxtail Fern, and the Wax Plant. 

When it comes to indoor air purification, can there ever be too much?  The air inside our homes and businesses can be heavily polluted.  Chemicals used to clean offices and businesses can be very harsh; and traffic passing on nearby roads pushes toxic exhaust into our homes as well. 

That's not great news when you consider that we spend about 90 percent of our time indoors.  Maybe it’s time to add a few lush green accents to benefit to our lungs and our businesses. Greenify today for better business!


Greenify… the Economy or the Environment?

March 4, 2009

There’s a battle shaping up in Florida right now. Call it “Greenification versus Employment.”  And it’s struggle that’s going to be shaping up in other locations around the country.

To light a fire under the Sunshine State’s frozen economy, some legislators are seeking to "streamline" a slew of environmental and growth regulations.  They are proposing everything from erasing or weakening protections for wetlands and wildlife to cutting requirements that developers improve roads to handle the traffic glut involved in building new projects.

One proposed law that is already drawn up could have major implications for urban counties like Miami-Dade and Broward as it virtually eliminates state oversight of new mega-developments. Other proposed measures could bar Miami-Dade County from enforcing its own environmental rules which are tougher than the state’s standards.

Advocates argue a regulatory overhaul, which is backed by builder and industry groups, could spur growth and jobs by making "duplicative" permitting processes for homes, offices and other buildings cheaper and faster.

These days, with the current economic “contraction,” we are all worried about the economy. We are all worried about jobs.  But the choice isn’t employment or environment; it’s as President Barack Obama says “doing the right thing for right now, or making the tough choice for long term benefit.”

As for the proposals in Florida, Charles Pattison, executive director of 1,000 Friends of Florida, an advocacy group that promotes "smart growth" policy, said he supported encouraging construction in cities, but said the bill's definition of "urban" could wind up promoting more sprawl.

"This is like trying to build our way out of the problem," Pattison said. "What we did in the past didn't work, so let's do it again, only more of it."

We know we’ve made the short term choice in the past and we’re not in a good spot now.  So maybe it’s time to try to do both: Greenify the planet and green up our economy, too. 


State of the Union: Going Forward to Greenify

March 3, 2009

If you heard the State of the Union address by President Barack Obama this past week, then you heard him talking about moving forward on alternative energy to get Americans away from fossil fuels and on to something that relies less on foreign sources.  He says he believes it’s within our reach and that investing in it now will pay off big benefits in the long-term.

And as for his budget, President Obama's budget proposal would repeal several oil industry tax incentives while imposing new taxes on Gulf of Mexico producers to close "loopholes" that have allowed companies to avoid royalty payments.  In fact, those “loopholes” would bring in $31.5 billion in additional funds and taxes to tax coffers.

These proposals are sure to be fought over by Republicans and Democrats alike on Capitol Hill and the fighting over this budget is expected to go on for months. 

But in the meantime, companies starved for work for their engineers, designers, dreamers and other American workers will be focused on the possibilities of alternative fuel sources.  They’ll be looking for ways to attract investment dollars, define themselves as alternative energy producers, and getting government interest in those projects.  (If you look on the internet, there are already predictions of which companies will be first with success in the alternative energy areas. Investors are circling.)

The economy is bleak and barren looking for the moment, but maybe this is the way to find our way back to greener pastures: by looking for a Greenified future that’s more focused on energy supplies that we all hope will leave smaller carbon footprints. 


Eat Sustainably on Earth Day 2009

March 2, 2009

Earth Day 2009, coming up on April 22nd.  Have you thought about your own personal celebration?  Let’s talk about a small, personal way to celebrate it that you can do for a day, a week, or the rest of your life: sustainable food.

You know what that is because we’ve talked about it before.  Sustainable food is food that is grown without chemical pesticides or fertilizers and it’s grown locally, as much as possible.

It’s healthy for you and healthier for our environment because frankly, trucking food thousands of miles so that we can all enjoy South American grapes in March is, well, wasteful of natural resources.

It can be tough for some to suddenly switch to sustainable eating.  Mothers with finicky small children want their kids to have the benefits of fresh fruit year-round, in order to become accustomed to a “well-balanced diet.”  And others may have health problems that require them to eat specific foods.

But on Earth Day 2009, if we all pack a lunch instead of going out for fast food, we’ll be healthier.  If we carry that lunch in a reusable insulated bag, maybe the one we keep in the car to bring home groceries instead of using those (indestructible “disposable” plastic bags) to tote it in.  Maybe use some reusable storage containers (we prefer glass, but as long as you’re reusing, we don’t judge!) and bring in something from the local farmers’ market?  You can get fruits, vegetables, breads, cheeses and sometimes meats and fish there, depending on your location.  But check to see what the products’ origins are. 

Greenify your Earth Day celebration with a taste of what the Earth and those who farm it close to you produce.  Celebrate with the abundance of sustainable food.  And if you can celebrate with sustainable food once, maybe you’ll find a way to eat that way more frequently in the future beyond Earth Day 2009.


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