Monday, 30 August 2010 17:21 Written by Greg Taylor
Any guesses on when business experts first predicted the paperless office? The 1990s? The 1980s? Nope… 1975! Now in 2010, raise your hand if you work in a paperless office. They’re almost impossible to find and sometimes it seems like we’re using more paper than ever. In fact, many government agencies require reporting in paper—electronic filing isn’t an option in some instances. It seems like paper is here to stay—but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your office a more environmentally friendly, sustainable, cost-conscious place to work. Dolphin Blue, a leading green office supplier, offers a one-stop shop to purchase all of your green office supplies. If you can’t ever seem to give your printer a rest—consider replacing your ink cartridges with soy-based ink. This is an easy way to reduce your demand for harmful chemicals and cut your carbon footprint. They also offer FSC-certified processed chlorine-free paper to keep your reports and marketing materials from contributing to deforestation. Also, they’ve made a commitment that all products that they sell contain at least 20% post-consumer recycled material, with many containing 100%.
Before we can change energy use habits we must first change beliefs about energy conservation. A recent survey conducted by the Earth Institute of Columbia University shows that many Americans misunderstand energy conservation. Of the respondents surveyed, 20 percent believe that curtailment (e.g., driving less and turning off lights) is the most effective way to save energy. Few responded with what experts advocate, i.e., taking an efficiency approach like buying more efficient appliances and insulating homes. According to EcoMall, insulating walls and ceilings in a home can save up to 20 to 30 percent of home heating bills and reduce carbon emissions by 140 to 2,100 pounds per year. Similarly, the government's Energy Star program maintains that replacing windows can save from 7 to 24 percent of heating and air conditioning bills. Reducing our carbon footprint requires action but at the same time, the most effective actions. Ariel Schwartz of Fast Company suggests that the government should ramp up its energy information campaigns so that people understand "that, say, insulating homes from extreme heat and cold will save more energy than flicking off the lights.” You can see the full results of the study here. Learn more about practical ways you can save energy.
Grounds for Change, a family-owned and operated coffee-roasting business, makes every effort to minimize its impact on our environment. Not only is its coffee certified organic and Fair Trade, but it is also shade grown. Shade grown coffee protects migratory bird habitats, reduces clear-cutting in tropical rainforests and promotes biodiversity. Grounds for Change coffee is also CarbonFree® Certified after a comprehensive life-cycle assessment that accounts for, identifies reductions and offsets the carbon emissions associated with the product. Through the product certification program, Grounds for Change is supporting third-party validated projects that will transition us to a low-carbon future. Be sure to visit the Grounds for Change website and take advantage of September’s coffee of the month—a “pleasing combination of Pacific and East African coffees.” And with the measures that Grounds for Change takes to reduce its carbon footprint, you really will be drinking responsibly!
Earlier observations of plant growth spurred by warming temperatures are now staring in the face of a warmer world, which researchers say is hampering plant growth. The study, published in the journal Science, shows an overall decline in plant growth from 2000-2009 because of warming-induced droughts. As temperatures continue to climb, researchers are raising concern about food security and development of plant-based biofuels. "This is a pretty serious warning that warmer temperatures are not going to endlessly improve plant growth," said the study's co-author Steven W. Running of the University of Montana. As drought caused by warming reduces the land's ability to take up carbon, the result could be more carbon dioxide left in the atmosphere and thus more warming, explained co-author Maosheng Zhao of the University of Montana. Their study, based on data collected by satellites, found that while northerly areas experienced some increased plant growth from warmer temperatures, this was more than offset by warming-associated drought in the Southern Hemisphere. "We see this as a bit of a surprise, and potentially significant on a policy level because previous interpretations suggested global warming might actually help plant growth around the world," Running said.
We all know that activities such as commuting to work or lighting our homes contributes a substantial amount to our carbon footprints every year. What about your website or blog? You may not have considered it, but all websites and blogs have carbon footprints, and they are larger than you might imagine. Think about everything that has to happen when you view a website. Your computer downloads information, which is housed by other computers on the Internet, all of which are using a wide array of networks and servers to transmit the information. The energy use adds up. The average personal blog, for example, creates nearly a ton of CO2 in a year! Why choose to make your website CarbonFree®? 1. Brand Recognition Distinguish your website or blog as reducing its impact on the environment with the CarbonFree® logo. 2. Your donation supports third-party validated carbon reduction projects With Carbonfund.org, your donation goes to fund the same third-party validated projects that our other carbon offset programs fund. We don’t claim that you can offset an entire website by planting a single tree, nor would we expect you to believe that. 3. Custom Calculations Have a large business site or just a small family blog? No problem. We can calculate a custom website offset that fits any size of site with any amount of traffic. Get started by visiting www.carbonfund.org/carbonfreewebsite and choose the carbon offset that most closely matches your average monthly pageview count. After your donation is received, we will provide you the appropriate CarbonFree® logos to use on your site for a year. Show your visitors your commitment to the environment by making your website CarbonFree® today!
Our partner Viva-Lite shares their perspective with us in a guest blog this week. If you haven’t checked out their full spectrum lights yet, make sure you do. They make a huge difference in your mood, your health, your productivity and the way you work. Below, Viva-Lite’s founders offer their top five places to switch to full spectrum lights and brighten your life: 1. Offices and factories [caption id="attachment_5652" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Good lighting is crucial in the print and design industries. © Gerard J. Corts"][/caption] Are you in charge of people who are spending the majority of their day under artificial light? Then you may want to investigate the difference that full-spectrum lighting can make to their health and performance. 2. Farmers, especially poultry farmers, zoos and animal houses Birds are especially affected by the quality of light in their living environments. In the absence of direct sunlight, full-spectrum lighting can help birds and other animals thrive. 3. Nurseries and greenhouses Plants are sensitive to the quality of light that surrounds them. Poor quality light can limit their growth and productivity. Where plants don't have access to true sunlight you can use full-spectrum lighting to get better results than ordinary artificial light. [caption id="attachment_5653" align="alignright" width="300" caption="For people who spend the majority of their day at a computer, full-spectrum li ghting can improve performance. © Gerard J. Corts"][/caption] 4. Graphic design, photography and print industries In an industry that prizes aesthetics and accuracy, lighting is crucial. Artificial light replicates only a portion of the sun's spectrum meaning that the colors you see under artificial light will differ from what you would see under sunlight (or full-spectrum light). Consider changing your lights to full-spectrum lighting. 5. Your home To brighten your home and keep your family cheerful, consider installing full spectrum lighting in your house’s well trafficked rooms. Viva-Lite invites anyone who is interested in how light affects all our lives to subscribe to their free educational newsletter or to visit their website today.
Wednesday, 25 August 2010 15:55 Written by Ivan Chan
To know how to reduce your business’ carbon emissions, you need to know what & where you can reduce. Carbon ExpressTrack™ from Carbonfund.org is an easy, affordable way for any business to monitor, track and manage carbon emissions. User-friendly and web-based, Carbon ExpressTrack empowers you to make business decisions that improve your environmental performance and save you time and money. For example, you can enter utility usage securely, include any business vehicles, travel or other business emissions, review emissions trends and view charts or reports. Carbon ExpressTrack is easy to use, including small & mid-size businesses as well as large businesses. Carbonfund.org is offering special introductory pricing, and as a Carbon ExpressTrack Partner of Carbonfund.org, you will receive immediate, customized set-up, expert support as well as a partner logo, partnership page on the Carbonfund.org website and more. View a demo and get started by visiting www.carbonfund.org/cet.