6 Business Tips to help the Environment

Small businesses and large corporations alike are all being encouraged to help the environment and save energy in any way possible. Whether you are an employee or a business owner, we can all make a difference with even small acts.  Here are some common sense ideas to do your part.

  1. Set your computer to go to sleep automatically during breaks or meetings or if un-used for a set period of time.
  2. Turn OFF your computer a night.
  3. Turn off the lights if you will be away for 15 minutes or more.
  4. Leave your blinds open for natural light versus artificial light where applicable, especially in winter.  On hot or warm days, leave the blinds closed as lights drain less energy that the average cooling system.
  5. Use a programmable thermostat and keep your heat set lower (wear layers).  Every single degree saves 3% on energy use.
  6. Use compact florescent lights. A 25 watt compact florescent light bulb throws the same amount of light as a 100 Watt light bulb, but costs ¼ to run the lighting.  Though the bulbs are pricier, many pay for themselves in savings in only one month.

When we all do our small part, it makes a big difference while saving money in the long run.

Paperless Marketing

As the business world evolves and our client’s needs evolve, it’s important that our marketing strategies grow and change to meet those needs.

Internet marketing, websites, blogs, social media and other ways of online promotion today have created a whole new business marketing world. More and more people are turning to the Internet to shop in the convenience of their own home or office, making comparison shopping very easy.

This challenges the (older) corporate mindset to think outside the brochure and flyer door hanger box – but what they may not realize is that Internet and “paperless” marketing could help save our planet.

Is paperless marketing “less” effective?  Not in today’s day and age.  So much printed materials provided in the mail or on door hangers are discarded (or hopefully recycled) the day of delivery – without a glance at the marketing material inside.  Environmentally friendly consumers are starting to resent all the paper and refuse to do business with companies who use these old school methods of marketing. Alternatively, online marketing statistics show that viewers tend to stay on each website for at least one minute if the product or topic is of value to them.

So, although the competition can be more challenging online, with the right tools in your box, you can come out on top. And if your business is marketing online, our planet thanks you too!

Feed a Need in Calgary

My husband and I decided it was time to clean out the house and get rid of a bunch of “stuff” that has been piling up over the year – an old couch, my grandmother’s table and chairs, 2 desks, lots of old dishes, bedding, etc.

The last thing we want to do is send these items to the dump. Most of them are still in reasonable shape. They just need a bit of cleaning up.

We called around and many charities only take items that are “like new” so that wouldn’t work. Then we stumbled on Feed a Need in Calgary. Their web site www.feedaneed.ca says, “Many families in our city can’t afford the simple necessities of life; beds, sofas, tables.  For them, furniture of any kind is little more than a dream.”

Perfect!

We called them up and they were more than happy to come out with there truck and pick up all our “stuff”. Because this is an organization run by volunteers and donations, we were happy to write them a cheque to help cover their costs as well.

Feed a Need gathers donated household items from people in their community and redistributing them to others. This is an excellent example of people helping people within a community and making a difference in the lives of others.

It is a great way to avoid taking “stuff” to the dump and help others at the same time!

Alternative to plastic bags

I have a confession to make. Even though I wrote about reducing the number of plastic bags we use, I have struggled with what to do when it comes to my dog. It’s very convenient to throw a plastic bag in my pocket when we go for a walk so I have something handy to pick up his poop.

I realized there had to be a better way to do this and was determined to find a solution.

I heard that our city had supplied biodegradable bags in the off leash areas, I started looking around to see if I could find similar bags for sale commercially. I did.

Community Natural Foods in Calgary sells ECOSAFE biodegradable bags for doggie litter, kitchen garbage and trash bags (www.degradableplastics.com).

Regular plastic bags take decades to break down. When you consider the number of bags you throw away in a year and multiply that times the number of people in your community (and beyond), it is a huge problem for landfills. Biodegradable bags, on the other hand, totally degrade and turn into a food source for microorganisms.

I will be using up all the plastic bags I have (reuse and recycle) and will do my best to eliminate as many plastic bags as possible (reduce) by using either paper bags or reusable bags I keep in the trunk of my car.

Originally posted in the Airdrie Echo September 19, 2007

The ‘No Bag’ Resolution

Garbage day in our household has us rushing around the house collecting garbage from various rooms in order to get it out on the street before the garbage truck comes by. Only this past week was different.

After our usual running around collecting, my husband called out from the garage that there just wasn’t enough garbage to put it out on the street. We typically have 1 large green garbage bag of garbage each week but this week we had the equivalent of 2 small kitchen bags which only took up about a third of a large green garbage bag.

We actually reduced the amount of garbage in our household to the point where we didn’t have enough to put out on the street. We, by the way, are 2 adults, 1 teenager and a dog.

Here’s how we did it:

Shopping friendly

  • buying items that have minimal or no packaging
  • using cloth bags at all stores (except where raw meat is concerned – I’m a bit nervous about that one)
  • use whatever plastic bag we do collect for picking up dog waste

Recycling – everything and anything that can be recycled goes into cardboard boxes in our pantry and eventually to the Recycle Depot. That includes:

  • all paper products including cardboard, newspaper, advertising, stationary and packaging
  • all acceptable plastics and any lid
  • metal cans, lids and aluminum pie plates
  • all glass jars and bottles
  • other stuff such as egg cartons and batteries

HINT: For a handy list of what is accepted contact your local Recycle Depot

3. Composting

  • all vegetable, fruit and egg shell waste goes into a small closed bucket under our sink
  • once a week that waste goes into our composter in the back yard (more on composting soon)

One of our New Year’s resolutions this year is to find ways to have more and more “no bag” garbage days in our household. I challenge everyone to find it in their hearts to do the same this year. What a gift to the environment that would be!

Originally posted in the Airdrie Echo January 9, 2008

HP Inkjet Recycling Program

If you use HP print cartridges in your printer, don’t throw used ones in the garbage.  HP has an environmental initiative that is free and convenient.

Check inside your HP inkjet print cartridge or LaserJet supply box for a postage-paid return and recycling envelope or label. They are provided free of charge in select HP boxes.

If your package doesn’t include the envelope or labels, you can go online and order the free postage-paid shipping materials, allowing you to easily send in your used inkjet cartridge or LaserJet supplies for recycling. To get started, go to www8.hp.com/ca/en/cartridge/recycle.html or type in “hp ink recycling” into Goggle search.

Originally posted in the Airdrie Echo October 24, 2007

Chemical Free Dryer

I always find it alarming how much chemicals there are in the products we buy – chemicals that not only hurt us physically but hurt the environment as well.

I’ve been slowly replacing all my regular products with “chemical free” products and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how well they work.  One example is fabric softeners and disposable dryer sheets (such as Bounce).

Did you know that most fabric softeners and disposable dryer sheets are made up of toxic chemicals, which gets transferred to your clothes? When I think about babies and children wearing these clothes and possibly putting them in their mouths, it is quite disturbing.

I’ve switched from disposable dryer sheets to a product called “Static Eliminator” which is reusable dryer sheets. They are 100% hypo-allergenic, environmentally friendly and work really well to reduce static and keep clothing soft. The best news is that they last for more than 500 loads, which means you save money too!

You can find our dryer sheets at any Home Hardware Store (called Natura Static Free Dryer Sheets)  or at your local health food store. If they don’t have them in stock, they should be able to order them in. Alternatively, visit the manufacturer’s web site for this at www.staticeliminator.ca and other environmentally friendly products.

Originally posted in the Airdrie Echo October 3, 2007
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