Greenify Your Cleaning

May 30, 2008

It is a little ironic that those cleaning products which are supposed to help us spruce up the office or home can actually be responsible for poor indoor air quality and even asthma attacks. Cleaning products are not required in the US to list all their ingredients, so one could be cleaning with a veritable chemical soup containing butyl cellosolve, ammonia, chlorine, sodium hydroxide (lye), alkylphenol ethoxylates, and more. Any of these can cause lung irritation and some will contaminate water supplies, deplete the ozone and cause endocrine disruption. Harsh repercussions when all you wanted was a clean floor or sparkling windows.

Consider Greenifying by stocking your office with eco-friendly cleaning products. Seventh Generation may be one of the best known brands on the market, but others exist such as Shaklees, Mrs Meyers Clean Brand, Method Home, Ecover, and Edible Nature. Trader Joe’s, Target and Whole Foods all carry in-house brand natural cleaners. If your office uses a cleaning service, ask them to use your products. They may balk at first, but perhaps you will convert them to a greener way of life when they discover the breathing is easier in your office.

If you clean your office yourself, you can create your own very environmentally friendly cleaning products using white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, borax and olive oil. A 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar (or even straight vinegar) in a spray bottle will kill bacteria, germs and mold. A cup of olive oil and a ½ cup of lemon juice makes a good furniture polish. Mix the two in a spray bottle, shake well and spray a little on a polishing cloth; polish evenly over the furniture, buffing to a light shine. Baking soda can be used in place of an abrasive cleaner. It will also remove odors. Sprinkle a little on the carpet before vacuuming in place of carpet freshener. To clean glass or mirrors, mix up 1 cup of isopropyl alcohol, 1 cup water and a tablespoon of vinegar. It evaporates quickly and will leave your glass streak free. Greenify to Clean!


Tags: ,
Actions:  E-mail

E-waste...how to reycle or reuse it

April 29, 2008

Inevitably, the technology equipment you invested in a few years ago, no longer meets the demands of your business. Or maybe you would just like a newer, shinier computer/printer/cell phone/what have you. But the old one is still functional, so what is the Green thing to do with your e-waste?

Fortunately, you have many alternatives! One of the easiest ways to recycle your cell phone is to donate it to a local domestic violence organization. Cell phones are generally able to dial 911 with no SIM card, and that may be all someone needs from a cell phone. If your company has many phones to dispose of, investigate options like ReCellular which will purchase your old cell phones, (with pre-paid postage for over 50 phones) or connect you to charitable programs such as Cell Phones for Soldiers.  I read earlier today that the amount of copper wire contained in cell phones disposed of each year could cover the Statue of Liberty, twice over. That’s a lot of copper!

If your computer or printer is still in generally good repair, one way to reuse is to call the local schools and see if they either need a used computer themselves or perhaps know of a student from a low-income household who could benefit from a computer. Computer donations to a non-profit institution may yield a tax deduction. Another option would be to Freecycle your computer. Dell, Apple, HP and other large companies offer recycling programs and your refuse hauler or local waste authority may offer a recycling program as well. If Waste Management services your neighborhood, they were the first electronics recycling company to achieve ISO 9001 and 14001 certification. Earth911 mentioned in Friday’s blog offers some other great tips for recycling e-waste.

No matter which recycling method you choose for your e-waste, keeping it out of the landfills helps you Greenify!


Office Recycling 101

April 25, 2008

One inquiry that is continually coming our way is “how do I start an office recycling program?” We know that the official celebration of Earth Day came and went earlier this week. We at Green Business Alliance are hopeful that our citizenry is beginning to realize that Earth Day is really EVERY day. Along these lines, an office recycling program can be implemented in a variety of fashions in order to allow all employees to participate in taking care of the environment on a day to day basis. We can all do at least a small part …at the very least throw a way a piece of paper in a special bin in order for that paper or cardboard to be recycled rather than pile-up in a land-fill.

Earth911 provides some great resources on how to get started with the 3 Rs...Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Anyone can contact their local Solid Waste Authority and ask about implementing an office recycling program. Keep in mind, office recycling is not limited to paper and cardboard. There are many items that can be recycled in an office ranging from aluminum cans to fluorescent tubes for lighting to many sources of e-waste (electronic waste like computers, VCRs, and cell phones). The point is to just do it. Just recycle something – paper, electronics, bottles and cans etc. It’s good for the environment, our land-fills and our future on this planet!


Earth Day Resolution #6 – Going Green for Schools

April 18, 2008

For the past few weeks, the parents at my children’s school have been hearing about the upcoming spring fundraiser. One never knows what that is going to entail – selling cookie dough, chocolates, wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions. As I my kids became more excited about the ‘sale’ and the prospect of selling enough items to get that coveted grand prize, I became more concerned about which neighbors and family members were ‘on deck’ in the friendly rotation of supporting one another’s schools via the children’s fundraisers.

I was very pleasantly surprised when the folder came home in the backpack and it looked unfamiliar. My kids could not stop talking about the ‘Go Green’ sale they were having. “Go Green,” I asked? “Yes mom…you know Go Green as in doing something good for the earth,” the kids replied. I immediately opened the envelope to find an eco-friendly looking brochure from Growkids – help children/heal the earth. What a concept, the kids are going to sell items like seed collections, green foaming soap, reusable shopping bags and hemp frisbees. The school receives 50% of all proceeds, a tree is dedicated and planted for every sales participant and the products being sold are environmentally friendly. It seems like a win for all – the school, the kids, the buyers and our environment!  As Sarah Talley, the founder of Growkids states on her website, “I’m not ready to run off into the forest and forfeit all of the comforts of modern life ... but I am learning to walk a little softer on the earth.”

In the midst of my excitement I picked up the phone to tell a friend at a neighboring school. When I started to talk about the Go Green fundraiser at our school, my friend quickly responded with her school’s version of the Green sale…CFL light bulbs. Her school was having a CFL sale. We seem to be moving away from cookie dough, candy and magazine sales. How nice!

This Earth Day, resolve to help spread the word at your children’s school about Green fundraising opportunities. Face it, the school fundraiser is here to stay. It’s a right of passage for the youngsters. The cute faces knocking on your door eager to make a sale are not going away and I hope they never do. Why not teach the kids about the importance of doing the right thing for the environment while going green and helping their school at the same time! I hope that we can all walk a little gentler this year!


What is a REC and Why Does it Matter for Businesses?

April 8, 2008

Wikipedia defines a Renewable Energy Credit as: “Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), also known as Green tags, Renewable Energy Credits, or Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs), are tradable environmental commodities that represent proof that 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity was generated from an eligible renewable energy resource.” 

The idea behind RECS is that businesses (and individuals) can offset their carbon footprint by purchasing Renewable Energy Credits. While the rationale is clear-cut for businesses that are big polluters, it is less obvious for companies work out of an office and are telephone / computer focused.

Wikipedia also notes that: “A popular incentive for buying RECs is to make the claim that your energy use is carbon neutral and hence does not contribute to global warming. Looking at the situation from a macroscopic level, buying RECs finances some portion of the increased costs of green energy producers, to reduce the producer's increase in cost as compared to sources which pollute more. However, it could be argued that the green energy production facilities which are already built today might still continue functioning and producing energy at the same rate even if no one were to buy another REC. On a microscopic level, buying a few RECs has very little direct effect on the amount of CO2 produced at this very moment. As larger and larger numbers of RECs come into demand, however, renewable energy will become more and more cost effective per kWh in comparison to nonrenewable energy. “

So should purchasing carbon offsets be a priority for businesses today? We believe that the answer is YES. As referenced above, in the big picture, the cumulative impact will be enormous, although the direct impact today is much harder to quantify. That logic, however applies to a number of the dimensions of the Go Green movement and every small step matter and is instrumental from a “setting the tone” perspective with employees and customers. Let your customers see first-hand that you go to the efforts to recycle within the office.

Successful business owners make investments everyday with a long term perspective in mind. Going Green is another example of a path to be taken that may not yield tangible benefits in the short run, but has untold, long term upside potential. Lastly, purchasing RECS is not very expensive for most companies, so cost should not be a deterrent.


Earth Day Resolution # 3 - Thirst for Eco-friendly Water Bottles

March 24, 2008

Whether you are a business owner or an employee or a chief executive mom, we can each make a positive environmental impact by choosing our drinking water thoughtfully. The recommended water intake per person per day is about 60 ounces (between six and seven glasses). Water is definitely a healthy and necessary daily drink to keep our bodies hydrated. However, the type of water we drink and the item from which we sip our water makes a huge difference.

Did you know that in the United States alone, we consume more than 2.5 million bottles of water every hour, and only approximately 10% are actually recycled? The other 90 percent of water bottles end up in landfills where it takes thousands of years for the plastic to decompose.

Consider tapping into a less costly means of staying hydrated. Drink tap water from a glass or a stainless steel reusable bottle. For those who prefer filtered water, invest in a filtration system for the home and/or office and drink it from a glass. You might be surprised to know that bottled water is not always cleaner and healthier than tap water. If you find that hard to believe, check the EPA's website.

With just one month until Earth Day, think about making a resolution to eliminate those plastic 'recyclable' water bottles and opt for an eco-friendly glass of tap water instead, well actually, 6 eco-friendly glasses of tap water a day!


Green Business Alliance - Home Greenify For Better Business - Greenify Now