Go Green at Work and at Home
Earth Day is an annual worldwide event which promotes and supports environmental protections and efforts to enact more sustainable policies to protect our planet. This year Earth Day fell on Sunday, April 22nd. As the Earth Day Network motivates us to improve human attitudes and behaviors environmentally, they also strive to inspire that Earth Day is Every Day.
In correlation with that inspiration, the Indian American Chamber of Commerce-Orlando (IACC) initiated the Smart and Sustainable Cities Collaborative Roundtable (SSCC), last month. This discussion with Central Florida leaders from local government, the business community, and academia generated ideas to initiate sustainable policies and to focus on planning for a cleaner, healthier, smarter and more sustainable future in our “City Beautiful”.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “100 Smart Cities Mission” in 2015. He has a vision to develop 100 Smart Cities, encouraging Indian state leaders to plan and interpret smartness. Although, there is no technical definition of what a “Smart City” actually is, the goal of the IACC is to promote dialogue within our community to manage our assets and resources more efficiently.
Here are some ideas to help you go green at work and home:
Be Bright About Light
- Institute a policy of turning off the lights when you leave a room for 15 minutes or more.
- Install timers or motion sensors that automatically shut off lights when they're not needed.
- Buy Energy Star-rated light bulbs and fixtures, which use at least two-thirds less energy than regular lights.
Clean-up Your Commutes
- Organize a company carpool program and encourage employees to carpool, bike, walk or take public transit to work.
- Institute occasional “Don’t Drive Days” where employees who register a clean commute are entered to win prizes like a free lunch or an extra vacation day.
Create a Healthy Environment
- Use nontoxic cleaning products.
- Brighten up your office, cubicle or home with plants, to absorb indoor pollution.
- Try to buy furniture, carpeting and paint that are free of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and won't release toxic chemicals.
Go Paperless When Possible
- Post employee manuals and similar materials online, rather than distributing print copies. (They're easier to update that way too!)
- Replace the traditional fax machine with a fax modem, so that all faxes can be sent via e-mail.
- Request to be removed from mailing lists for unwanted catalogs, magazines, newsletters and other junk mail.
Maximize Computer Efficiency
- Make it a policy to turn off your computer when you leave for the day. (This can save additional energy use.)
- During the day, setting your computer to go to sleep automatically can cut energy use by approximately 70 percent. (Screen savers don't save energy.)
- Turn off other equipment when it's not being used. (This can reduce energy consumption by about 25 percent.)
- Make it a policy to invest in energy-saving computers, monitors and printers.
- Set printers to print on both sides of paper.
- Make it a policy to print in draft or “fast” mode whenever possible to save on ink.
- Recycle toner and ink cartridges and buy remanufactured ones.
Ramp up Your Recycling
- Institute or take advantage of an existing recycling program for electronics, paper, cans, bottles, cell phones or cardboard. Many electronics and cell phones can be donated and refurbished. If your electronics are no longer salvageable, make sure you recycle them through a company that is certified through either the R-2 or e-Stewards program.
Make it a policy to place recycling bins in accessible, high-traffic areas and provide clear information about what can and cannot be recycled.
Rethink Work Travel
- Invest in video conferencing and other technological solutions that can reduce the amount of employee travel.
- Promote the use of public transit and/or make it a policy to rent hybrid or high-mpg vehicles during work-related travel.
Tap into Water Savings
- Do not leave taps dripping. (One drop wasted per second, can waste approximately 10,000 quarts per year!)
- Install displacement toilet dams in toilet tanks. Placing one or two plastic containers filled with stones (not bricks) in the toilet's tank will displace about 4 quarts of water per flush. (That is a huge reduction of water use over the course of a year.)
- Use native plants for landscaping and advanced irrigation systems with rain sensors.
Watch What (and how) You Eat
- Provide reusable dishes, cups and utensils for your employees.
- Buy organic and local food for parties and other events.
- Provide filtered drinking water to reduce bottled-water waste.
The momentum for a more sustainable community is there, and IACC leaders hope you will join us in continuing this dialogue. Together we can promote Orlando as a Smart City.