Taking action now to fight global warming
is bad for the economy, right? More and more, we’re starting to see that that just isn’t so.
Look at California’s recent decision to stop waiting for the U.S. federal government to join the Kyoto Protocol, an agreement in which 141 countries have agreed to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases. Part of the reason the state is moving ahead on its own to reduce greenhouse gases and start using renewable sources energy is that lawmakers and businesses alike realized how costly climate change could be. For example, one study warned warmer temperatures will shrink the snowpacks in California’s mountains, reducing the state’s water supplies, damaging the ski industry and increasing smog.
And consider the findings of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. In its report on “U.S. Market Consequences of Global Climate Change,” it found that, even in the most optimistic models of future warming and rainfall trends, taking no action now makes economic damages “inevitable.”
While big businesses such as those in the insurance industry are starting to realize how global warming might hurt their bottom lines, small businesses can also join the fight by taking steps that can both help the environment and save money, either long- or short-term. Consider these 10 simple actions for your office:
Ã?Â· Start a telecommuting program. Employees who have the option of working from home at least some of the time are happier and more productive, studies have found. And, one researcher says, we could save more than 1.2 million gallons of gasoline if only 10 percent of people telecommuted once a week.
Ã?Â· Replace your office lights with more energy-efficient versions. Compact fluorescent bulbs use less energy than regular bulbs; installing just one compact fluorescent light can save more than $30 in energy costs over the life of the bulb.
Ã?Â· Use laptops instead of desktop computers. Energy-efficient laptops use 70 percent less electricity than other computers, according to ENERGY STAR. Plus, they run cooler, thus saving on office air-conditioning costs.
Ã?Â· Retool the coffee area. Styrofoam cups create needless waste; encourage employees to bring in their own coffee mugs instead. Buying a reusable coffee filter for the coffee pot also reduces waste and cost over time. And choosing fair-trade, shade-grown coffee ensures that you support environmentally responsible coffee farmers.
Ã?Â· Ditch the fake greenery. Real plants in the office might need a little water and pruning occasionally, but they add both beauty and oxygen while taking in carbon dioxide – healthy for both employees and the planet.
Ã?Â· Turn down the A/C. Too many offices are air-conditioned to the point of feeling downright icy. Leaving the air a little warmer can save energy costs; each degree creates a savings of about 6 to 8 percent.
Ã?Â· Designate one lunch-getter. When everyone in the office leaves individually and drives a few miles to buy lunch, they’re wasting needless fuel and generating too much carbon dioxide. Institute a plan in which one person in the office (or one in each department) handles the lunch run for everyone. You can share the job on a rotating basis, too.
Ã?Â· Create a lights-out policy. Every light, computer and other appliance left plugged in and/or turned on after hours means wasted electricity and higher costs. Encourage all employees to switch off their computers at night, and to put them in sleep mode if they’re away from their desks for more than a few minutes.
Ã?Â· Consider solar-tube lighting. Solar tubes, or tubular skylights, add illumination without any electricity needed. Plus, they look like ordinary overhead floodlights.
Ã?Â· Print with water-based inks. Standard printer ink is petroleum based, so it has an energy-related cost. Also, if you need to print any documents, use both sides of the paper to conserve. Better yet, make a habit of sending office memos and other documents by e-mail instead. You’ll save on paper and ink costs, and cut down on office clutter too.