Tuesday, August 28, 2007

10 Things you can do at work to save the planet

Ok here at Saving Green we always try to save the planet in a way that also saves you money. This time we'll still save the planet, but your company is going to save the money. Hey, maybe you'll start a trend and can ask for a raise right?

Below are ten suggestions to save the planet while your at work:

1. My office building has handicap accessible doors leading into the building. I think this a great, IF, you are handicapped. If not, save the electricity and just pull that door open yourself. It's really not that heavy, I promise!

2. Also along the same line, we are all guilty of riding the elevator when we could just go up 2 flights of stairs to the office. Have you ever caught yourself waiting 5 mins for the elevator, when you could have been in your office in 1 min if you just walked up the stairs? Well, at the same time you are saving the electricity to run the elevator. The exercise you'll get is just a nice bonus!

3. Do you have a personal light or lamp at your desk? Do you really need it on when you are just using your computer? Also, always make sure that you turn it off when you leave for lunch and go home for the night.

4. Is it too hot or too cold in your office? I've seen people with space heaters under their desk that they run all day because they are cold. Even if your company thinks they are saving money by turning down the heat in the winter, if they allow everyone to run space heaters they are definitely losing. Call HR, or your building supervisor, or your boss, and talk to them about adjusting the heat.

5. Is all of your office equipment set to go into sleep mode when not in use? Make sure that your photocopier sleeps after a set amount of time that makes sense for your office usage. Especially when you go home for the night. Or even better it might make sense to turn the machines totally off when you go home for the night. Even in sleep mode they are still drawing some power.

6. Can you ride your bike or walk to work? This one will save you gas money, and reduce emissions at the same time. You'll also get some more of that exercise! Even if you can't bike or walk, maybe you could carpool and cut your cost and emissions in half.

7. Use your misprints. Did you print two copies when you really only needed one? Or was there a typo that you changed and reprinted? Save the misprints and use the back for notes and scrap paper. Ok, it really great that the sticky notes are that fun color and they'll stick to your monitor, but is that really that important. All you really need is a note on your chair to make sure to print those TPS reports right? (note: make sure your not using the back of a printout containing confidential data!)

8. Ask for a recycle paper bin if you don't all ready have one. We've all seen them, the big blue bin that you put your scrap paper in (this is of course once you have all ready used the back to remind yourself to print your TPS reports). It will then get recycled and save a tree!

9. Did you ever notice anything that wasn't working properly at work that you know was wasteful. For instance the toilet is running constantly and won't shut off. Or the refrigerator door is broken and won't close properly. It only takes a minute to send a quick email to whomever is in charge of taking care of those types of things for your building. Save the water, electricity, etc.

10. Screen savers. Yeah they are fun. Once you've not been using your computer for 10 mins a great white shark starts swimming around in your monitor, or the man starts cleaning the window from the inside, etc. They are cool to see, and once upon a time they actually did serve a function. If they same thing appeared on your monitor in the same spot a long time old monitor would burn that image in. So even when you had a different screen up, your could still see the shadow of that popular image. But the technology of monitors today is such that they will no longer burn and image no matter how long you have it on there. So once 10 mins goes by just have your screen go to black. It actually takes a little more energy to run a screen saver then to just let the screen go black. Not a lot, but if we all do it, it'll add up!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Which has more Mercury, CFL's or incandescents


Mercury. It's the last reason that people haven't changed over to CFL's. Mercury is bad for the environment and bad for humans as well. Sounds horrible right?

Actually Mercury is bad, the problem is people don't realize the amount of Mercury that is released into the environment to run a regular incandescent bulb. Most of the electricity that is produced in the US comes from coal fired power plants. When you burn this coal, Mercury is released into the environment.

The amount of Mercury in a CFL is very small and getting smaller all the time as R&D improves technology all the time.

Now, you are using the same electricity from coal plants when you are running your CFL's, but of course you are using 1/3 to 1/4 the power you would when using an incandescent bulb. The amount of Mercury actually contained in the bulb is tiny compared to what is released into the environment from the coal power plants. Also, the Mercury from the power plants is released into the environment. The Mercury in the bulbs is trapped in the bulbs and would only be released if the bulb is broken. Most CFL's will last 5-15 years and end their life when they finally burn out. They can then be recycled thereby releasing no Mercury from the bulb itself.

Of course the CFL's are much better for your wallet as well. The electric bill savings over the life of the bulb far outweigh the additional cost for the purchase of the bulb.

The moral of the story is this: There is no good reason not to change all your bulbs to CFL's! They will save you money, save the CO2, and reduce the Mercury in the environment as well. Additionally, they don't burn as hot so when you are running the AC in your house they will release less heat and therefor save you money cooling your house.

Buy your CFL's!