Green Business Alliance Blog

Green Business Alliance believes in utilizing the power of the Internet to educate on the importance of adopting environmentally sensitive business practices. Our blog is updated frequently with helpful tips for large and small companies and employees. We invite you to visit our blog regularly to gain valuable insights.

Bottled or Tap Water: Is There a (Greener) Difference?

November 10, 2008

Can we choose healthy products and Greenify the planet at the same time?  According to the latest lab reports on bottled water, the greener and more pure answer is coming out of our own taps.  That’s because those big name brands of H2O have the same variety contaminants found in tap water, according to a study by an environmental advocacy group.

The two year study was done by the Washington DC-based Environmental Working Group, which is an organization founded by scientists to advocate tighter regulation.  The results showed contaminants in bottled water purchased in nine states and the District of Columbia.  

Researchers tested ten brands. Two of the brands warranted further testing.  (Eight of the brands weren’t high enough to pursue further testing.) Additional testing revealed chlorine byproducts above California’s standard, according to the report. 

This flies in the face of all the advertising and hype.  Not to mention the modern “chi-chi” of having the purest water possible.  The researchers say much of the commercially bottled water is no more “contaminant free” than tap water.  And tap water, as we all know, is a lot greener than bottled water.

Forty-thousand plastic bottles per day are dumped into our landfills.  If Americans returned to drinking filtered tap water at home and work, and refilling containers to take along on their various daily activities, it could free up a huge amount of space in our landfills, lower landfill fees and taxes, and cut our out of pocket costs (during a difficult economic time) on water and be every bit as healthy for us as bottled water, if not more. 

And as it turns out, what’s better for our landfills and environment may be at least as good for us all as we Greenify together.


The Greenification of The New York Marathon

November 9, 2008

The New York Marathon is growing by leaps and bounds, and sprints and paces, too.   And now it’s going more green. 

You have to figure as the tens of thousands of runners participating in the ING New York City Marathon pound their way through the city one step at a time, they have an impact on the course.   Organizers are now in the process of trying to make that footprint more gently felt.

In the past, the race has taken steps to cut down trash and pollution, but here are some new improvements: the Staten Island ferry is moving to ultra low sulfur diesel fuel all the time, not just when carrying runners to the starting line. 

The organizers will also donate unused food from the starting line to City Harvest, which is a group that rescues food.  They’ll offer discarded running gear to various charitable groups, as well.

And recycling efforts will continue at pace, too.  Last year, 11 tons of cardboard and plastic were recycled along the 26.2 mile route.  The cars used in the marathon (yes, there were a few) were Toyotas, with most of the official vehicles hybrids. 

But there are greener cars than just those hybrids.  This year, pedicabs will offer free rides for spectators and biodiesel generators will be at the finish line providing power for the clocks, loudspeakers, medical tent and stage.  Those generators are running on 99% biodiesel made from American-grown soy.

Perhaps as other event organizers see the success of New York’s marathon, they’ll find ways to Greenify their own events.


Going Against the Green at Midnight

November 3, 2008

Tuesday’s election will bring a new administration to Washington, but not before the outgoing one delivers a final punch to efforts to greenify.

That’s because an outgoing President, “lame duck” as they are called, often puts a final stamp of approval on many issues considered too politically “hot” to touch while still in office. They are called midnight regulations. And this President is no different.

Last May, the White House sent a memo to regulatory agencies asking them to forward any proposed changes they might wish for, with the intent to make them final by November 1.

The Washington Post reports that as many as 90 new rules are being offered, many seem to ease environmental rules governing everything from commercial fishing to power production.

One possible rule would lift a requirement that environmental impact statements would no longer be required for changes at some fisheries and would give review of those operations to area councils dominated by fishing interests both commercial and recreational.

Another rule would allow increased emissions from oil refineries, chemical factories and other industrial plants.

And still other rules would ease limits on pollutions from power plants, a major energy industry goal for the past eight years that both Democrats in Congress as well as environmentalists oppose.

Midnight regulations aren’t anything new. The previous Clinton Administration certainly made a name for itself with its list of last minute demands, but here at Green Business Alliance we hope that someday, the lawmaking on the way out the door will move environmental law forward instead of back, to help all of us win in the election by going green.


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.  


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