Do you need a meaningful New Year's Resolution you can stick with? So did we. Join us in 2018 for a Green Resolution aimed at reducing and reusing.
Our Corporate Resolution
"Keep it green, read from the screen." What exactly does this common e-mail signature statement mean? How much paper do we actually use? Will reading from a screen really curb my paper usage?
For most companies, going paperless isn't really about the trees. And some critics suggest that the impact of the (often coal-powered) electricity needed to power our screens is greater than the amount of waste created by the paper we used. Additionally, retired forests once used for paper production are often sold into private ownership and subject to more permanent development in the wake of "keeping it green" (Two Sides).
Despite a relative lack of research on the subject, there are some documented positives. Going paperless may reduce the paper demand, use less ink, reduce the amount of transportation necessary to get paper products to store shelves, and free up space in our landfills. According to The Paper Project, paper was the largest component of solid waste in landfills, representing 16 percent in 2009.
In the hopes that our paperless promise will make a difference, our corporate challenge this year will be to go green with a paperless policy, to reduce the type and amount of paper we use. Circadian uses paper for field data collection, meeting notes, post-it reminders, and receipts. While this may not seem like a lot, we are still growing, and understand that our paper use will increase with our company.
To curb that use, we will be collecting data using a tablet in 2018. Not only does this reduce the amount of paper we carry in the field, it reduces the amount of time we spend entering data when we return. Similarly, we will be taking notes on our laptop during meetings and using GoogleKeep and Evernote for our notes and reminders. These programs are app-based, so that we may simply use our phones in the event that a laptop is unavailable.
We also realize that going completely paperless is unrealistic. When we must resort to printing, we've switched to New Leaf paper products which are made of 100% recycled fiber without chlorine. New Leaf is a B Corporation based in California. We also recommend purchasing paper from forests that are sustainably maintained, with an FSC or similar certification.
What will your corporate New Year's resolution be?
Pick a Personal Resolution
While corporate resolutions are important in the workplace, we also spend a lot of time developing habits at home. How can we as individuals be more sustainable in 2018 than we were last year? There are hundreds of organizations with thousands of sustainable living suggestions. We polled our friends, families, and partners and received some favorite sustainability practices. If they can do it, so can we!
Say no to Straws
We use over 500 million straws in the US each year, and they are too light to pass through the recycling machinery effectively. They are disposed of as trash, shredded by the environment into microplastics, and eaten by marine life. Those in need of straws (stroke victims, for example), may find paper or other compostable straws equally useful.
Cloth Over Paper & Plastic
Replace those paper napkins with cloth. Similarly, replace plastic shopping bags with reusable cloth bags. We leave them in the car at the grocery store too, but this year, we will be making that walk! Plastics are typically derived from coal, natural gas, and crude oil. The manufacturing of plastic bags can be environmentally damaging, and they are not biodegradable. Between 500 billion and one trillion plastic bags are used each year worldwide, 50 million of which find their way into streams and oceans. Bans or taxes have been placed on the use of plastic bags in much of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America.
One Locally Sourced Item
Replace one item you typically buy at a chain (Walmart, Target, for example) with a local company or Benefit Corporation (learn more about B-Corps here) (find a B-Corp here). Farmers Markets are a great way to get local produce without a huge hit to your schedule. Main Street Market and the Chattanooga Market (though they close for the winter) are our favorites.
Natural Cleaning Products
Replace your cleaning supplies with hydrogen peroxide (a strong disinfectant), vinegar (a less strong but useful disinfectant) and baking soda (scrubbing action). Hydrogen peroxide can be harmful to your skin in high quantities, so diffuse the mixture to clean tile, grout, toilet bowls, tub scum, mold, and sponges. Learn more about perfect ratios for different surfaces here.
Lower your Electricity Usage
Crank that hot shower down this winter. Additionally, raise or lower your thermostat by three degrees. Every degree can save about 1 percent of your energy bill!
Plant Native Wildflowers
Plant native species in your garden this year. Native plant species typically require less maintenance and water, and provide a natural habitat for birds and insects. Find your selection from Bees on a Bicycle or call Botanica Chattanooga for the install.
Try recycling. If it isn't offered curbside, collect, sort, and take it yourself (where is the nearest center?).
Try composting if you live in an apartment, have a yard, or want curbside pickup, there are options that will work for you. This Complete Beginner’s Guide also provides a wealth of information about composting.
Drive Less, Walk more
Minimize the amount of car trips you make. Skype your business partners instead of meeting in person. Bike to work once a week. In 2016, we used about 143 billion gallons of gasoline, the largest amount of annual motor gasoline consumption on record. If you commute to work, drive more slowly to increase fuel efficiency.
What Will You Do?
Join us in selecting your 2018 Green Resolution. Contact us with your stories.