‘Recycle, reduce, reuse. Recycle, reduce, reuse.’ It’s a well-worn adage and like saying, ‘I love you’ after sex, it’s also kind of meaningless. We all know what we should be doing, we know that turning stuff off saves electricity, we know which bins belong to what and we know that a banana peel in a plastic bin not only looks out of place, it feels out of place too.
The problem, I think, is the human condition: we sometimes just don’t give a rats, myself included. Why? When the benefits aren’t immediate, or instantly gratifying, then our little brains just don’t find the whole exercise worthwhile, in fact we often find it downright inconvenient. So instead of giving you some tips on how to ‘green’ your office in the hope that our carbon-based offspring don’t all spontaneously combust in a carbon-fueled planetary tragedy, here are a five tips that you’ll instantly enjoy implementing.
Instantly gratifying tips to be more green at work
1. The boycott
South Africans love a good old-fashioned boycott. It’s hardcore, it’s rebellious and it’ll leave you feeling like Clive Owen at the end of the film Law Abiding Citizen. Ladies, you’ll probably feel more like Julia Roberts in Erin Brokovich, equally as cool. Email or send a postcard to those pesky bill collectors, unsolicited mail senders and any other correspondence that you don’t feel like dealing with. Tell them that you will not respond to any requests unless the request is made in an environmentally friendly fashion, or in a singing telegram.
2. The Ice Fan cometh
Turn off the air conditioning unit, grab a fan and some ice. Put the ice in front of the fan and turn it on. Not only do you have a cool workspace, you also have the exact hardware that photographers use to make models look so incredibly hot and aloof at the same time. Answering emails with your hair blowing back and a nipple stand? Instantly cool.
3. Unplug stuff
Unplugging your own stuff is a bit of a mission. If you can remember to do it then go ahead, but it’s way more fun to unplug your colleagues’ stuff. The cool thing about doing this is that you don’t even have to worry if it’s on or not. Just unplug it! If they turn around and try to stab you with a pen just say, ‘I’m saving the planet boet’ – then walk around the office unplugging everyone else’s stuff. If you’re not a fan of confrontation, you can also do some stealth unplugging and see how much stuff you can unplug before someone notices.
4. Share lunch
Every time you wander over to the shops to buy a sandwich, a pie or a packet of broccoli you’re also buying the plastic packet or paper bag that it comes in. It’s already a waste, and if you’re shopping for just yourself it’s even worse. Buddy-up during lunch and go shopping with a colleague, share a salad and a baguette or whatever it is that humans eat. Alternatively, take a walk to your nearest restaurant for lunch. It means you’ll have to stay away from your desk for the entire lunch hour. You’ll get in some social time and you won’t get crumbs in your keyboard.
5. Stay at home
Once every two weeks, don’t go to work. I did the maths on this one and it works out: for that day your carbon emissions are practically zero, unless you eat beans.
Tips your boss could use to green your office
So, on a more serious note I spoke to Garren Bisschoff, Marketing Director at Renewable Energy Solutions about some things that your boss can do to ‘green’ your office. They’re not as cool, or as easy, or as instantly gratifying. They also involve spending some money. BUT they have lots of energy and money saving numbers in them because that’s what bosses like … numbers.There are three main factors that will affect energy consumption and ultimately the value of your office:
‘Most companies don’t realise how much money they can save by replacing their current light bulbs with low wattage bulbs. Normal 50 Watt bulbs can be replaced with 4 or 6 Watt bulbs. They cost R150 and have a lifetime of 40 000 hours, effectively cutting your electricity bill by 90% over 10 years.
Retro-fitting your existing toilet system to recycle flushed water. An average office loo will use around 20 000 litres of water in three months. Attaching a recycler will reduce that to just 300 litres over the same time. Costing between R12 000 and R14 000, the systems are hygenic, odourless and practically invisible.
For a company that is open during standard office hours, i.e. 08h00 to 17h00, solar power can be very beneficial. Working optimally, a solar system that feeds directly into the building could reduce your electricity bill to almost zero. Currently, indicative pricing for solar power is R22 000 to R25 000 per kWh installed. On a system that will last you a minmum of 25 years you will recover your capital after six years.
Visit www.renewable-energy-solutions.co.za for more information.
Image from Besserina.com