Green Business Water Watch!

April 2, 2009

By now, most of us have switched out the old fashioned fluorescent bulbs in favor of those new, high efficiency light bulbs.  They’re in our offices.  They’re in our homes.  Those bulbs will return the money invested in a mere matter of months and they’re part of our plan to Greenify our businesses in a very cost effective way during this recession, right? 

How about if you take a similar step… in the bathroom?   A similar policy, applied to bathroom faucets will see a return in dollars even faster. 

"The flow rate on most bathroom faucets is 2.2 gallons per minute” says Tommy Linstroth, director of sustainability for Melavar, a sustainable real-estate develop,pment company based in Savannah, GA.  “That’s the same amount of water you use to take a shower. It's a ridiculous and unnecessary overuse."

Melavar is now replacing all of its bathroom faucet aerators -- which control water flow – with versions that flow at a rate of 0.5 gallon per minute, although you can get aerators in a variety of flow rates.  The average aerator will cost $2 to $3 and it gets screwed right on to the faucet, making them as easy to change as a light bulb.

Or, think of it the way Linstroth did. 

"For $3 per faucet, we curtailed our water use by 50 to 75 percent. If every employee washes their hands three times a day, that's a substantial amount of water savings over a year," he says. "This is a no-brainer."

How much money can your company save and how much greener can your company become with just a twist of your wrist?   Think about that the next time your water bill arrives! 


Toweling Off in the Green

March 30, 2009

If you’re a small business owner, trying to do your best to greenify, what’s the right choice for bathroom towels?

Hand towels made of paper always seem like they could be messy, expensive, and require lots of our precious trees in their manufacture.  But many people prefer paper towels because they like to be able to use the towel to open the door and let themselves out without touching the handle. 

At the same time, electricity uses natural resources in its production as well, and it seems to dry people’s skin out, which many people don’t like.  These days, hand dryers do have sensors, so they shut down when they are no longer needed.  But which is the right choice to Greenify?

It may depend on your choice of paper towels and how you handle the refuse. If recycled towels are available, that’s always best.  And if the used towels can be recycled, then that makes things even better.  The carbon footprint of your restroom decreases even more.

But in some areas, it may be difficult to get recycled towels or have the means to recycle the used paper out and away from landfills.  In that case, the right choice may be electric hand dryers.

It’s best to check your own situation and keep in mind how much use your restroom gets during the day.

Sigh.  Some of us remember when all hand towels were recycled.  They were cloth and came on a roller that had to be serviced by a person traveling a route.  Those days are mostly gone, but sometimes it’s fun to remember. 

Just remember to Greenify as best you can and we’ll all think back on these days with a smile. 


Counting Down to Earth Day: What Can You Do?

March 27, 2009

What can you do in these final weeks before Earth Day, 2009?  There is no time like the present to start working to pollute less personally and participate in the discussion in your own community. 
 
First, here’s a personal pollution checklist. Are you:
 
Carpooling?
Recycling every item possible?
Buying locally grown and manufactured?
Checking second-hand stores before buying that new gadget?
Recycling printer cartridges, motor oil and auto batteries, along with newspapers the right way, every time?
 
Good job!
 
Now, regarding getting involved in that community discussion.  First, check with your city council to find out if they have an "Earth Day Proclamation" and what your municipality's observance will include.  If they are all set, ask if you can help out.  Volunteers are almost always welcome.

If nothing is in place, there is still time for you to change that.  Draft a simple resolution to honor "Earth Day" where you are.  It doesn't have to be fancy and you don't have to spell things correctly.  You’ll need a few "Whereas" statements to lay out the resolution’s premise.  The “whereas” statements can be thought of having two parts, general points and locally focused points.  You’ll follow that with the "Be it resolved" statements, suggesting what needs to done.
 
For instance:
 
"Whereas we are using resources faster than our planet can produce them, and whereas we are polluting faster than we can clean it up, be it resolved that we work together to cut our carbon emissions, try to slow and stop pollution and Greenify the Earth.  And be it further resolved that we will honor April 22 as Earth Day 2009, to be observed as such in our homes and businesses and every day thereafter." 
 
Put that together on recycled paper, and you'll be a sure hit in any city council on this planet. 


Buzz Building for Green Businesses

March 26, 2009

Are you noticing more talk about green business?  More advertisements by large, international companies about "sustainable energy sources," new listings at business conferences for added "green business opportunity panels," and even President Barack Obama on the “Tonight Show” with Jay Leno, talking about electric cars going over 150 miles as Leno smiled and added that he already owns a car that runs on hydrogen, which is "an entirely different technology."
 
These increases in "buzz" about Greenification are a healthy sign for our world.  Our planet is in a state of emergency: we are consuming and polluting at a rate 25% faster than the planet can sustain.  That fact has to change or we and our children are doomed.  We may no longer be able to “buy cheaper from Asian producers” because of the cost in terms of carbon. 
 
In the coming months, we're going to be encouraged to support business within our borders.  And as part of that, I suggest we also look for green businesses that are local and sustainable, too. 

Buying local equals buying greener.  Have you ever thought about the effort needed to get a product made in a small town in rural Georgia to market in Portland, Oregon, for instance?  The product has to be packaged for sale, re-packed for shipping, then put on a truck or train (or both) and then unloaded from that container into a warehouse, re-loaded for shipping to a store before being placed on a shelf.  Isn't there a greener way? 
 
Look around for local producers of products that you buy from remote producers.  Prices are changing because of the recession and things that were once out of consideration may now be priced more attractively.  That would also make a case for them being a lot more planet-friendly.  
 
We have to find a balance between the social and natural systems in a world where people on one land-mass consume resources at 5 or ten times the rate of people in other regions.   We need to Greenify as one world in order to save our one world.  


Follow the Leader: Grow Your Own!

March 23, 2009

The Greening of the White House continues in Washington where Michelle Obama has now planted a garden on the White House'  South Lawn.  The First Lady is after more "fresh, unprocessed, locally grown" vegetables for her family, and if she has to raise them herself, she says she will.
 
This is one indication of the commitment to environmental issues apparent in the Obama administration. Mrs. Obama is a backer of what is called the "Slow Food Movement," begun by Alice Waters decades ago. 
 
It includes foods that have lower carbon footprints because they are locally grown, locally produced, and locally consumed.  They are grown organically, without chemical pesticides and fertilizers that can leach into the water table and in spite of doing good where intended, resurface elsewhere with harmful effects.  
 
We're all capable of doing this ourselves, and in a recessionary economy, maybe it's time to see about that green thumb you've been hiding in your pocket?  How about putting in a few tomato plants on along the side wall of your house?  Maybe see about some peas and beans to climb the rear fence?  A couple of rows of corn along there might not be a bad idea, too.
 
So your soil doesn't do well, you say?  Maybe it's time to get some natural fertilizer?  Start your own decomposition chamber in a back corner. You may want to build a container, because sometimes that can have an unneighborly side effect: smell.   You can also visit an area stable and procure some equine refuse matter (that's my nice way of saying horse manure).  Break up a pound or so into a gallon bucket of water, let it sit for a day.  Then pour that steeped "tea" over the plants and in the areas you intend to sew seeds.  You'll reap the rewards.

And as you're out there, toiling away, don't think you're the only one who is going to be working in their garden this summer.  The First Lady says the President will be commandeered into green garden duty, too.  As Mrs. Obama says, "whether he likes it or not.”


First Quarter Check-up: How Green Is Your Business So Far?

March 22, 2009

It’s now mid March and we’re closing in on completion of the first quarter of 2009, so how are you doing on your goal of going green at your business this year?   Shall we run down the checklist?

Are you using more recycled products, even for just a few days every month, in your printing and waste paper uses?   Every little bit helps and since they are a touch more expensive (and we’re all watching our pennies) sometimes it’s all we can do to work on it a few days at a time.

Are you asking customers whether they’re interested in electronic billing to cut down paper usage and then of course recycling your own waste paper?  This is very important and can help benefit two ways: 1) fewer trees are cut down and 2) fewer landfills are needed.  Same goes for aluminum cans.  Recycling, right?

You’ve gotten rid of the old fluorescent light bulbs and replaced them with energy efficient CFLs, which saves on energy and money, since these bulbs are made to provide light for more years than the old ones.

All lights, including the after hours signs, are now on timers. 

You’re encouraging carpools among your office staff, whether by offering reserved better parking spaces or by chipping in for carpool resources. 

You’ve gotten rid of those paper plates in the company lunch room, and put in a supply of unbreakable glass plates (yes, they DO make ‘em!) to save more on paper.  Employees are struggling, but learning to put the dishes in the energy efficient dishwasher.

And computers, where possible, are laptops.  This keeps electricity usage down nice and low. 

If you’re doing some or all of these things, you’re off to a great start to Greenify your business, save some cash and help to save the environment. 


Earth Day: One Month and Counting!

March 18, 2009

Earth Day is one month away and, yes, we’re starting count the days here at the Green Business Alliance.  (It’s an “Earth Day” of sorts every day here, but we do take extra joy in the rest of the planet celebrating with us!)  Did you see the cool spinning globe and countdown timer on the front of our homepage?  Lots of activities and different events are being planned all around the world.

I think my favorite ones are the ones at schools.  The current generation is just getting started at cleaning up the world, but those kids are the ones who are going to have to push forward on the job.  And there are thousands of educators lining up to help them learn about those activities. 

Already, many schools have signed up to participate in National Environmental Education week from April 12 to 18.  During that time, they’ll focus their students attention on Earth Day through creating day after day of learning and activities in K-12 classrooms, nature centers, zoos, museums, and aquariums.  Think about it: thousands of eager young minds, all thinking about and learning about the problems of pollution in our world. Think of the good they can do if each of them just picks up one piece of trash on the way home after school!

It’d be nice of the rest of us grown-ups (and semi-grown-up people) would consider doing that, too.  Every little bit helps.  So turn off that light after you leave the room.  Recycle that soda can.  Stop drinking bottled water and get a filter system on your kitchen tap. 

Going green is going to take all of us making a concerted effort, long after Earth Day is over.  We’ve got a month to get ready for Earth Day and think about what we can do to Greenify and help one little patch of Earth at a time.


Earth Day Is On The Way!

March 14, 2009

Earth Day is now just over a month away and signs of this year’s celebration are beginning to build.  I was in a business in Arlington, VA this past week and noticed a paper poster that looked like a child’s bright-colored painting of a bright green bush with the words “Earth Day 2009!” printed on it. 

What does Earth Day bring?  It’s a chance to remind everyone on the planet that this is where we all live and work.  And that we have to share its resources and work together to make sure that it stays a healthy place to live and raise families.

Earth Day is our chance to stop focusing on the problems that we all face, dealing with the economic worries and the poor job climate and the mortage/market crises.  It’s a day to put those aside and focus on being positive about our planet and our ability to work towards one goal for the good of all people.  (I wish I could say it was a day off from the threat of terrorism and all violence, but I don’t think terrorists work like that.)

It’s also a day to stop, smell the roses, feel the grass under our feet and find the cleanest air we can to inhale.   There will be demonstrations and gatherings all over the world this year. There will be people shouting their strong feelings and those quietly smiling as they enjoy watching cows graze along the side of a road somewhere.  There will be words from our leaders and probably a few proposals put forward on this day.

But also let’s keep in mind that if just a few more of us decide to recycle and try to reduce their carbon footprint, the most important goal of Earth Day will have been achieved: to bring us together to protect and improve life here on this great green Earth.

We can be the Green Generation: a generation that really gets the effort underway to Greenify and to make the planet a better place for those to come.


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!


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