As we collectively turn our attention to the environment this Earth Day, 2015, it’s important to remember that there are many things we can do as individuals to help improve our own living conditions and impact on our local environments as much as the Earth itself. Perhaps we are all guilty of spending too much time on the data and finger-pointing to simply consider our own individual impact on our environment. Sure it doesn't move the needle much on the entire Earth’s scale, but it certainly moves the needle in our building, our neighborhood, our town, and so on. If we all just gave a bit of ourselves, perhaps we could start to move the needle in a big way.
It’s not our mission to tell you what you should do. Or tell you what you’re doing wrong. But we can highlight some of the things we have done at Simon’s Agency as we moved into our new building and perhaps if we work by example and share our own story, you might find something in this that can work for you as well.
Here are eight examples of things we have done:
- Energy saving windows and blinds – the addition of these allows us to use less artificial light throughout the course of a work day and lose far less energy through heat transfer as our Spring has certainly been an up and down affair.
- LED lighting – everywhere we possibly can – allows us to use far less energy.
- Adopting company-wide protocols to limit the amount of energy used by idle computers (this is a work in progress!)
- Installing high-efficiency microwave oven, dishwasher and refrigerator.
- Installing efficient toilets, urinals and paper dispensers.
- Planning landscaping for the outside of our building that will help maintain water in our neighborhood’s water table during wet season and return it during dry weather. This landscaping has the added benefit of providing sound barriers over time.
- Recycling – be it paper, glass or metal – we make a concerted effort to have every single employee contribute in a meaningful way. An added benefit is using our return deposits to buy coffee supplies for everyone! Even the Keurig is seeing many more reusable k-cups being used by our employees.
- Going paperless – we have made a concerted effort to use as little paper as possible – be it keeping digital copies of our records whenever possible or encouraging the use of electronic data transfer over fax and paper copies.
These are things we have been able to accomplish by planning for them months ago, before we began construction on our new building as well as moving toward these measures as an organization. While the environmental rewards may be small on scale, what hasn't been small has been our monthly savings on our utility bill! If our employees and neighbors can take one or two of these and apply them to their homes and lives, perhaps we can all contribute to a positive yield come Earth Day 2016 (not to mention saving a few bucks along the way).
As we remember Earth Day this year, let’s all continue to improve upon our impact such that our Earth Day efforts extend to every day of the year. For it is what we do every day that will cumulatively affect the kind of Earth we leave to our future generations.