While there are many opinions on what people and governments should or should not be doing to have a positive impact on the planet, there is no getting around the fact that we should be taking care of our planet. We are all too often guilty of thinking “Well the government should implement something to fix it” or “There are enough people working on this problem and it won’t affect me,” and this is just not the truth. Start saving the world by doing your part!
People see themselves as individuals first before identifying as a specific race, sex, religion or nationality and it will be individuals who make the lasting difference of allowing a better and healthier life for us and future generations. We may not all agree on issues such as global warming but the issue should not define if we should or should not help out the planet. Regardless of the stance on any issue, we can all generally agree that we want a clean and beautiful world to live in for ourselves, our families and future generations.
“So if it is up to me, what can I do? I’m just one person…” Helen Keller once said “I’m only one person and I can’t do everything. But I can do something. I will not let the fact that I can’t do everything prevent me from doing what I can” and no other quote is more appropriate to respond to that. Change does not occur with sweeping changes to regulations or laws (although this can preface larger changes), change happens incrementally by individuals.
Plan Left is an ad agency in Nashville,TN – why should we care about this issue? We are a company of individuals- each of us passionate about different areas of this issue and thus as a company we are just as concerned. We spend a large percentage of our day in the office , therefore we thought it was appropriate to give some tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint and have a more green approach in the office.
Switch off ComputersAt our office, we all work on our computers the majority of the day and this is the same for many of the people reading this post. When the day ends or you know you will be away from your desk for an extended amount of time; turn off your computer! Leaving your computer on throughout the year can produce 1,500 pounds of CO2, multiply that times the number of people in your office and you are talking about tons and tons of carbon dioxide being released. In other terms, one computer running all year is the equivalent of releasing 20 adult Emperor Penguins into the air. Why a penguin? I dont know, they weigh about 75lbs each and they can’t fly on their own, so I figured why not help them out . It is also to help visualize the carbon as something more tangible than an invisible gas.
Just because we cannot see our carbon footprint does not mean it isn’t there. The other perk of turning off your computer is the massive savings in electricity that you or your company will accrue by not having them on. I know it is a pain to wait for your machine to start up again but its worth it, take that extra time in the morning to grab a cup of coffee or chat with a coworker about the last Game of Thrones episode.
Trim Paper UsageThis is one area that many people are already contributing heavily and may not even realize it. Cloud storage such as Google Drive or Drop Box have allowed us to share documents with coworkers in such a simple way that printing it out to bring to them is not necessary. At Plan Left, we share all of our files digitally between ourselves and our clients- we so rarely print things out that we do not even own a printer (true story). Not all companies can be structured to do as much digitally, so just think before you print it- can you just email it to the person? If not, make sure the font is smaller and consider printing on both sides of the paper. Digital documents reduce your wasted paper and energy by 100%. Thoughtful printing will also reduce your wasted paper.
Turn Off the Lights
Are you leaving for the night? Long meeting? Turn off your office’s light. This isn’t always an option for people as many offices have overhead lighting that applies to everyone’s desk, just make sure your cubicle lamp or other personal light is turned off. Many offices are moving towards movement based lighting that will turnoff after a few minutes of non-motion in the room. Installing lower energy bulbs is also a great way to use less energy as well as save money on the energy bill.
Consider a Car Pool
Let’s be honest, most people won’t do this. There are many reasons why, maybe it is the logistics of not living near a co-worker, maybe you just like to drive in during the morning. That said, the reasons TO do it are far better than the reasons not to. The biggest reason on a personal level to do this is that it is cheaper to do so, you are only driving your car a few times a week to work rather than everyday roundtrip. That same perk to your wallet is the same given to the environment, instead of you and your coworker(s) driving multiple cars in to the office every day, you are now just using one.
This may seem minor but think about it in the bigger picture, if you and two other people decide to carpool then it is taking two cars off the road for the 251 workdays in 2013. The average American commutes 16 miles each way to work (((16miles x 2 times per day)(2 people))x251 days) = 16,064 miles not driven. When we take that number and add in the average American car is getting 27.5 miles per gallon and that one gallon of gas burnt releases 19.6lbs of CO2 ((16,064/27.5)(19.6)) - we find out that two people not driving their car for the work year reduces CO2 output by nearly 6 tons (11,449lbs). That is almost 163 Emperor Penguins, maybe that is enough incentive to start up a car pool.
Adjust the ThermostatKeep your office comfortable but not over the top hot or cold. Changing the temperature by a single degree in your office will have a massive impact on the amount of energy used. With regards to energy cost, the rule of thumb is that 1 degree warmer (winter) or colder (summer) will increase your energy costs by 3%. Why does that cost go up? Easy, you are using more energy and producing more CO2 while doing so. No two offices are the same, and while some may allow you to adjust the temperature, others may not. In a smaller office, you may also have the option of opening the window on a nicer day and turning off the AC or Heater altogether.
"Is there more that I can do?" Umm yes, a lot more. Some measures are as simple as the above, others will require more focused efforts and investment. The above list is to highlight some simple acts that can be done by individuals to help ensure a green future. We will be posting a few more tips on our twitter and facebook leading up to Earth Day.
As you can see, environmentally friendly practices are not just about the environment, they are also economically friendly. If the environmental impact and the savings made by your office are not enough incentive consider this: saving the company money means larger profits which means more money to get a raise with ! …. If that is what it takes to motivate you to be more green, then so be it- your individual efforts when combined with others efforts will create a Captain Planet of sorts.
We’re the Plan Left-eers, you can be one too. Saving our planet is awesome to do.