Mind & Media strives to be a responsible member of the business community, our local community, and our world. Thus it is our desire and pledge to minimize our environmental impact as much as possible, and to educate and encourage our employees, partners, and clients to do so as well.
When we made this pledge, we invited our staff to help think of ways we could reduce our environmental impact in the office. The staff came up with many ideas. Their research showed that even simple things like turning off computers and monitors at night can make a big difference. We learned that if everyone in the US turned off their computers at night, we could shut down eight power plants!
We have taken the following steps to reduce our environmental impact, and will add to this list as we are able to take additional steps. (See the Going Green Guide compiled by some of our staff members, with many additional ideas for going green in the office. We’ll be implementing as many as we can.)
We reduce by:
- Shutting off, and in many cases, unplugging electric lights, appliances, and equipment when not needed.
- Using daylight whenever possible rather than electric lights.
- Replacing all regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs as they burn out.
- Enabling computer/monitor “sleep” mode, which uses 80% less electricity than in full-power mode.
- Shutting off monitors at night and when away from desk for extended periods.
- Replacing coffee pots with thermal carafes.
Heating & Cooling
- Using heating and air conditioning moderately and using programmable thermostats to reduce heating/cooling when the building is empty.
- Encouraging staff to layer clothes in winter and wear light casual clothing (including shorts) in summer.
- Closing blinds at the end of the day (to keep out heat in summer and cold in winter)
- Adjusting blinds throughout day to keep out heat from the sunny side of the building in summer.
- Replacing our aging HVAC units with smaller, much more energy efficient models.
- Maintaining our HVAC units, such as changing the filters, via our quarterly maintenance contract.
- Painting our black rubber roofs with special light-colored reflective paint.
- Allowing telecommuting and avoiding long distance commutes, and encouraging carpooling, public transportation, walking, and biking to work.
- Avoiding printing when possible (by reading documents online, not printing out emails, etc.).
- Stocking the kitchens with enough dishes and silverware for everyone, rather than using paper/plastic for company lunches and events.
- Guiding our clients away from extensive print campaigns in favor of online media.
- Sourcing greener printing options (recycled paper, nontoxic ink, etc.) when we do print work.
- Eliminating duplicate free subscriptions to trade magazines, and having our name removed from many company catalog mailing lists.
- Buying environmentally friendly/nontoxic cleaning supplies.
- Replacing our overly large hot water heater with a smaller, energy efficient model, and setting the temperature at the lowest recommended setting.
- Displacing some water in our older toilet tanks with a water-filled plastic bottle.
We reuse by:
- Reusing paper (running it through blank side up) in the printers and using the duplex feature on the main printer.
- Reusing anything reusable (office supplies, frames, equipment, etc.).
- Giving away usable items when they’re no longer needed, to employees or charity, rather than throwing them away.
We recycle by:
- Buying recycled paper and paper products.
- Using a secure shredding company that recycles the paper.
- Recycling toner cartridges.
- Recycling aluminum, steel, glass, and plastic bottles, jars, cans, etc.
- Collecting packing peanuts from shipments and recycling them at the nearby UPS store.
The Difference We Can Make
Here are just some of the tidbits our research revealed about how simple changes can make a big difference. For more, see our Going Green Guide.
- Compact Fluorescent Lights: CFLs use 60% less energy than regular bulbs. This simple switch will save about 300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. If every family in the U.S. made the switch, we’d reduce carbon dioxide by more than 90 billion pounds.
- Computers & Monitors: To meet the Energy Star standard, monitors must use 2 watts or less when in Sleep mode and 1 watt or less when turned off—so turning off monitors overnight vs. just letting them sleep would use approximately half the energy. “If every U.S. computer and monitor were shut off every night, we could shut down eight large power stations and decrease CO2 emissions by seven million tons annually,” says the Office Energy Guide, developed by the city of Portland, Oregon.
- Programmable Thermostats: These save the average home $100 a year; it is more than that for our larger office building.
- Air Filters: Cleaning a dirty air filter can save 350 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
- Reflective Roof Coatings: Studies conducted by Lawrence Berkley Laboratory showed reductions of 25-67% in cooling energy usage on buildings that applied a reflective roof coating. Typical costs range from $.50-$1.00 per square foot. Coatings can also extend the life of the roof.
- Reducing Driving: Avoiding just 10 miles of driving per week eliminates 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year.
- Recycling Paper: According to Friends of the Earth, 70% of office waste is paper. It's largely high-grade white paper, the most sought after type for recycling, yet only 15% is actually recycled.
Got a Green Idea?
Mind & Media is always looking for new green ideas to implement. If you have any suggestions please share them with our Green Coordinators at firstname.lastname@example.org.