Friday, June 26, 2009

Green Business Practices at Work

Green living should be a way of life, not only at home, but at work as well. If you're the person who goes to work, does your job and attends the obligatory company parties and picnics, now is your chance to show everyone at work that there's more to you than just doing your job. Be the first at work to contribute to a healthier environment for generations to come: start a recycling program at work!

Make it part of your company's goals to reduce waste, promote materials recycling and supporting a clean, sustainable and environmentally conscious work environment.

To get started, okay it with your boss to have a chat with the facilities manager or administrator. Schedule a meeting to discuss ways your company can reuse, recycle and reduce.

Once you've set the ground rules, draft a professional, company e-memo urging all employees to participate. Depending on the size of your company, you may even be able to create incentives for employees who successfully participate. Some cost-effective suggestions include:
  • An extra 15 minutes added to a break or lunch hour
  • A pass to wear jeans on a day other than Friday
  • Create a badge or "energy star" that can be worn by the "top sustainer" for a day

Other ideas that may not be as cost-effective, but still reasonable, include:

  • A pair of free movie passes
  • Lunch on the company
  • A paid day off

Regardless, the participation of each employee will not only mean success for your program, but a huge difference in the amount of waste that is hauled to our landfills.

Office Recyclables


  • Clear and colored bottles, jars and other glass
  • Rinse and throw away caps


  • Clean cans, foil and pie plates
  • DO NOT recycle aerosol cans or scrap metal


  • Throw away caps and recycle bottles and containers
  • Plates and utensils
  • Bags and liners


  • Boxes
  • DO NOT recycle wax or plastic-coated materials


  • Cups and plates
  • Drawings and plots
  • Junk mail, catalogs and magazines
  • Office paper
  • Newspaper and inserts

Other things you can do to reuse, recycle and reduce:

  • Turn off overhead lights and use lighting on your desk
  • Use computers, monitors, printers, fax machines and copiers that are labeled Energy Star
  • Turn off the lights when you leave the office
  • Shut down your PC and printers when you leave the office
  • Minimize the number of documents you print
  • Edit drafts on-screen instead of printing multiple drafts
  • Ask customers if they want a receipt (tools like track and keep accurate records of spending)

For more tips on how to be more environmentally conscious, visit Get Active. Go Green! Column written by freelance writer, delmetria millener.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Small Living Makes Giant Strides

By Shireen Qudosi

Thinking green has spread a new leaf. While in the early stages of green living, eco-friendly decisions centered around what could be different in the home, the trend now is the change your home itself. The small living movement is taking the country by storm, and more and more people are realizing the benefits of compact living for a number of reasons in and in a number of ways.

Whether it’s a boat, mobile, or studio living, majority of Americans are downsizing their dwelling. This in light of the recent recession mixed with a rising awareness to cultivate positive eco-friendly living solutions, has left the market saturated with a number of alternatives to conventional living.

In browsing the net, stories popped up left and right about single Americans who are now looking to live cheaper and more simply. Initially doing it for environmental or fiscal reasons, all of them have attested to finding that a simpler home has somehow translated into a simpler lifestyle - and a simple lifestyle is a happy lifestyle.

There are a number of great sites that can get you started, including my top favorite, Apartment Therapy.

There are a couple of creeping problems with smaller living lifestyles. Whether it’s a room or a whole living space/studio, the obvious issue is space. The easiest way to tackle this problem is through bookshelves.

However, in a smaller space, it's crucial to make use of wall and above-cabinet space. Some clever homes even had bookshelves trailing down each side of the main steps leading from the entrance to the loft. Other clever ideas including using bedroom dividers and utilizing lighting to highlight different room areas.

Despite best intentions, and even some amazingly gosh darn cute homes, there are some problems that keep cropping up with smaller domiciles. As we saw with the articles on living spaces of 250 square feet and 350 square feet, it is possible to live functionally in such a small space. Compared to that 400 square feet seems rather large, but even a room or a studio type home of 400 square feet can have the same heat-rising microwave-effect that exists with even smaller spaces.

Unless your small space has great ventilation and accompanies a cool breeze, chances are you'll be stuck in what will inevitably feel like a pressure cooker. And if you're on the second floor, that dark little cloud is going to start inching closer and closer. With the well-known fact that heat rises, you'll have the added heat headed up your way.

If this miserable existence sounds like your situation, but perhaps not your cup of tea, then your best bet is to get a portable cooler. Portable air conditioners are mobile cooling devices that, unlike central air conditioners, offer spot cooling at a far more cost-friendly rate. For a 400 square foot room, you'd need a cooler with a BTU of 9000 - in which case the Soleus Portable AC should suit you just fine. However, in dryer climates you're better off with an evaporative swamp cooler, such as the Convair.

In addition to salvaging what’s left of your sanity come summer, you’ll have the added benefit of clean purified air, a simple, energy efficient, easy to operate cooling device, mobility and spot cooling, as well as adaptability.

Regardless of which unit you decide is right for you, they all tend to be of a compact design that can be discreetly tucked away when not in use. When they are in use, they'll seamlessly blend into your decor as the trend for most small living quarters tends to be lighter colors with classic lines.

Shireen Qudosi is a green expert working with Air Conditioner Home. A premier online retailer of residential/commercial cooling, Air Conditioner Home is dedicated to raising consumer awareness on green issues & promoting both air purification and eco-friendly cooling.