A few helpful hints to point you in the right direction.
Here is what we think are some of the best tips for moving to green whether at your home or your office. We’ll be constantly updating this section to provide you with new helpful information. Be sure to visit the Resources/Links page, and you’ll be able to click through to a variety of sources that provide you with daily and weekly information on moving to green.
Make your summer travel plans a little greener.
Summer is here and that means it’s time for vacations. Here are some helpful hints for making your plans more eco-friendly.
Arrange a trip through a travel outfitter offering green group tours
These days you can find more and more carbon-neutral travel outfitters who use recyclable materials, renewable energy and carbon offsets to keep their outings green. Some examples of carbon-neutral outfitters are Natural Habitat Adventures, O.A.R.S., REI Adventure and Escape Adventures.
When arranging your own travel, work with organizations that can help you offset your eco-impact
Sustainable Travel International can help you calculate and offset trip emissions; or, if you book through Travelocity or Expedia choose offsetting options when you make reservations.
Use a green map to guide your travels
Find green-oriented activities and resources using a map from Green Map System.
Use mass transit for your travel
Instead of flying, take a bus or a train to reach your destination. Not only is it a great way to help the environment, it’s a great way to see more of it.
Rent an eco-friendly vehicle
Mainstream rental companies like Hertz continue to increase eco-friendly offerings. There are also a number of smaller rental companies that, while not nationwide, are really pushing green vehicle rentals such as Fox Rent A Car. The easiest thing to do is ask for a vehicle that gets better mileage no matter which company you rent from.
10 Tips for Moving Your Office to Green
- Turn off lights when a room will not be in use for 15 minutes or more.
- At the end of the day, after you turn off your computer, be sure to turn off your power strip also.
- And don’t forget to turn off your copy machine.
- Print a document only when it’s truly necessary. When it is necessary, print on the front and back of each sheet of paper.
- Place recycle bins throughout the office. When you make it just as convenient to put things into a recycle can as a trash can, people will recycle more.
- When purchasing office supplies be sure to choose eco-friendly items.
- Use a water filter rather than bottled water.
- Car-pool with co-workers to and from meetings or use web-ex and video conferencing to avoid travelling altogether.
- Purchase hand towels for your office kitchen space. Take turns taking them home to wash them.
- Use energy efficient light bulbs.
Simple Ways to Reduce Office Paper Waste and Make Better Use of Paper (Source: NRDC)
Using Less and Reusing More
- Use email instead of paper or faxes, both for internal memos and for communications with clients and customers.
- Don't print email messages. Put the words "Don't print this email unless you really need to" at the bottom of all emails.
- Print less: Keep mailing lists current. Don't print more copies than you need or order extra on outside print jobs.
- Reuse what you can. Stock your fax machine with paper already printed on one side; reuse oversize envelopes and boxes; re-use one-sided "draft" paper in your printers.
Printers and Copiers
- Purchase units that can print on both sides of a sheet of paper. Then set all computers and copiers to default to double-sided printing.
- Save and collect 8.5 by 11-inch paper that's been printed on one side, restack it neatly, designate a paper drawer on each printer (or as many printers as practical) for this paper, and use it to print drafts.
- Adjust the house style on word processing programs to use a slightly smaller font and slightly wider margins.
- Work on drafts electronically, using "edit" and "comment" word-processing features, instead of working on paper.
- Cut down on the number of periodical subscriptions you buy. Survey to see who subscribes to what, then trim duplicates and work out a sharing system. One way to share information is to circulate the table of contents for each periodical.
- Reduce the amount of unwanted mail your company receives. The National Waste Prevention Coalition provides a postcard to send to mailers to have your name removed from lists: http://www.metrokc.gov. (See more resources and suggestions for curbing business junk mail at http://dnr.metrokc.gov).
- Stock the kitchen with reusable mugs, plates, bowls and utensils to discourage the use of paper and plastic disposables. Consider cloth napkins or use paper towels with high postconsumer recycled content.
- Encourage employees who carry in lunches to use reusable bags and napkins.
- Distribute recycling bins for paper to every workstation and make sure the cleaning crew knows what they're for.
- Educate staff on what can and cannot be recycled.
Buying Better Paper
- Buy paper with the highest percentage of postconsumer recycled content available, never settling for less than 30 percent for uncoated paper or 10 percent for coated stock.
- Insist on "processed chlorine free" (PCF) paper.
- Always avoid paper made from 100 percent virgin pulp.
- If you do buy paper with virgin fiber content, be sure the virgin fiber comes from sustainably managed forests. Look for paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). If FSC paper is unavailable, ask your paper supplier to provide you with "Chain of Custody" information on the origins of the fiber in the paper products you purchase, and ask if the manufacturer of the paper has a policy to protect endangered forests. (Their policy should meet the criteria laid out here).
- Create a corporate purchasing policy that clearly outlines your goals and preferences for paper buying.
- On printed materials, include a line about the environmental characteristics of the paper you use.
- If you have a choice, buy products wrapped in the least packaging. Buy in bulk or in larger containers.
Saving Energy at Home
Using energy more efficiently can reduce your carbon footprint and save you money in the process. Here are some quick fixes that can cost you little to no money to implement:
- Lower your water heater temperature to 120°F
- Lower your thermostat in winter
- Wash your clothes in cold water
- Turn off unneeded lights and electronics
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Seal large air leaks in your home
- Insulate your water heater
- Install efficient showerheads
Recycling Your Phone
Most people don't keep cell phones for very long but what should you do with your old one? Whatever you do, don't throw it away. Phones are actually fairly easy to recycle. Below are some tips for what to do with your phone. For information on recycling other electronic items, click here to visit the Yahoo Green Section’s page on electronics recycling.
- Start with the retailer or manufacturer you purchased your phone from. Links to the biggest companies can be found on the EPA site. Some companies have drop-off service in their stores while others provide envelopes to mail the phone in.
- Some manufacturers will accept any phone for recycling and will accept the phones for free. Some examples are Apple, Motorola and Nokia.
- Donate your old phone to charity. Some non-profit organizations like Call to Protect, Cell Phones for Soldiers and Secure the Call find good uses for old phones with worthy causes.
- You can also find a drop-off site for recycling phones near you with the Call 2 Recycle database. Enter your ZIP code to find any locations near you. Earth 911 also provides a search engine you can use for both retail and municipal recycling locations.
Springtime means time for yard work and a chance to make a difference for the planet and your budget.
As we all now know, carbon dioxide is a big problem. You do your part to help reduce this global warming gas by planting some trees in your yard. In addition to soaking up carbon and helping the environment, trees can be of big help to you.
- Using trees as wind breaks can cut your heating bill by 10%-20% (Arbor Day Foundation)
- Shade trees positioned east and west of your house can cut home cooling costs by 15%-35% (Arbor Day Foundation)
- Plant fruit trees to save money on produce
And beyond trees, when working in your garden you should do everything you can to create ways in which plants use less water. All of these will conserve energy.
- Choose hardier plants
- Plant things that need more water in groups
- Use mulch to help keep in moisture
- Mow only when the grass really needs cutting
- Make sure you water your lawn sparingly
And in these times of falling home prices, trees can help you retain or increase a home's value. In an Arbor National Mortgage & American Forests study, 83% of real estate professionals stated their belief that mature trees have a “strong or moderate impact” on the salability of homes listed for under $150,000; on homes over $250,000, this perception increased to 98%.
You don’t have to drive a hybrid to go greener with your car.
Let’s face it. Not everyone can afford to go out and buy a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t still do your part for the environment where your car is concerned. Here are a few tips to help you out.
Have your car professionally washed – According to the International Carwash Association, commercial car washes use 45 gallons of water per car on average vs. the 80 to 140 gallons typically used by people washing their vehicles at home.
Don’t use the drive-thru – Instead of sitting in line burning fuel and pumping out CO2, park your car and order your food, prescription or whatever inside.
Avoid idling – When waiting for someone to come out to the car, run into a store or when chatting with someone in the next car, turn your engine off. According to a recent report from Texas A&M University, 2.9 billion gallons of gas a year are burned just through idling.
Keep up to date with regular maintenance – Getting your oil and filters changed regularly helps maintain better gas mileage – as does keeping your tires properly inflated.
Use sun shades or park in the shade – When you get into a hot car, the first thing you do is crank up the air-conditioning, which greatly reduces your fuel economy.
Don’t overload your car – Only drive with items in the car you actually need for each trip – the more your car weighs, the harder your engine works. Travelling lighter can help your fuel economy.