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Conscious Consumption

Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016

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Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016

by Kate Vandeveld

If you work in an office, you may have noticed that you and your colleagues use a lot of paper, leave the lights on a lot, or throw away a lot of things that could be recycled. If so, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that offices generate a huge amount of waste on a daily basis. Even if you work from home or a co-working space, it can be difficult to keep track of your environmental footprint. Unfortunately, we’re all constantly generating waste, overusing resources, and unconsciously hurting the earth through the things that we purchase. But the good news is that we can, somewhat easily, change the way we consume and utilize resources in our offices and workspaces to reduce that footprint.

While we’d love to encourage you to get your company on board with a large-scale sustainability program, in the meantime, there are simple changes you can make right now to kick off 2016 on an environmentally-friendly foot:  

Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

Be conscientious about office supplies

Paper products

Did you know the average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year? Paper and cardboard account for almost 40 percent of our overall waste. The best solution to this problem is to reduce (or even eliminate!) office paper use, though this may not be possible for every office. If it’s an option for yours, here are some tips on how you can reduce paper waste. It it’s not, be conscious about purchasing recyclable paper for your offices.

Bathroom & kitchen supplies

For dish or bathroom soap, try products from method. For toilet paper, paper towels, or disposable tableware, opt for Seventh Generation. Both offer eco-friendly and affordable alternatives to the products that you use on a daily basis.

Light bulbs

Choose compact fluorescent bulbs for office lighting, as these use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents, and last anywhere from 3-25 times longer.

Coffee & tea

If your office serves coffee and/or tea, go for local roasters rather than the big names. Shopping small business is good for the local economy and your community in general – learn more about the benefits here

If you already purchase eco-friendly office products, what is your go-to source? Share with us in the comments, and we’ll pass along the word to our community!


Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

Minimize employee transportation 

Transportation has a significant impact on the environment. Each day, Americans use over 2.9 billion gallons of gas, due in large part to the fact that 77% insist on driving alone to work. Luckily, there are ways you can reduce that – here are a few options: 

Share a ride to work

Whether you opt for public transportation or carpooling, sharing rides makes a huge difference. It reduces traffic congestion, uses less gas, and decreases fuel emissions. If you’re an employer who is looking to incentivize ride sharing, try subsidizing public transportation costs for your employees.

Bike to work

If you live in a place where it’s an option, biking is the most environmentally friendly, financially smart, and health-conscious option. Here are some of the environmental benefits of biking rather than driving a car to work. If you’re an employer, consider offering bike parking to make it easier on your employees who are interested in biking.

Work from home

If your company offers an option to work remotely, try it out! If you can’t bike, this is clearly the best way to reduce the environmental effects of car transportation.


Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

Keep energy usage low

Use your thermostat

Rather than keeping your office the same temperature at all times, utilize the feature that turns on heat or air conditioning at specific times and turns off automatically at the end of the day. Tip: Set it to start a bit before anyone gets into the office, and no one will even feel the difference.  

Turn off your electronics

In many offices, computers are left on all the time – even after hours. Encourage your employees or co-workers to shut down at night before they leave. Also, unplug lamps, chargers, and other electronics whenever you’re able as well – they use “stand-by power” when plugged in, even if not in use. If everyone in the office makes these small changes, it’ll make a big difference over time.

Reduce Your Company’s Environmental Footprint in 2016 -- WhyWhisper Collective

Reduce, reuse & recycle

Start a recycling program at the office

According to the EPA, about 80 to 90 percent of solid waste is recyclable in the average workplace. Whether you start with setting out recycling bins in highly trafficked areas (such as near the printer and in the kitchen), or launch a full-fledged office recycling program, taking this initiative will greatly reduce your office’s environmental footprint. 


If there’s a kitchen in your office, it’s very possible you’re throwing away a lot of things that could be composted and used differently. You can keep compost in-office for fertilizing your plants, or take it home with you to use in your own garden. If this is an option for you, here’s a great guide to office composting.


Do you have innovative ideas for how companies can reduce their environmental footprint right now? Share with us! We want to know every tip in the book.

If your company is looking to invest in a larger-scale sustainability program, or even if you’d like some support in implementing these ideas, we can help. Get in touch with us here.

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#BeingBetter Checklist: 10 Ways to Live More Sustainably Right Now

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#BeingBetter Checklist: 10 Ways to Live More Sustainably Right Now

Guest post by Nicole Caldwell, co-founder and CEO of Better Farm and author of Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living

Responsible stewardship of the land and sustainable living are crafts. Living green is an art form requiring no formal training; in fact, we already innately know how to do it. Humans are natural leaders, natural innovators and have always been naturally resourceful. But we've misinterpreted our role on the planet. As a culture we've determined that the Earth is here for our use, and we've in turn treated the environment like a commodity.

But our higher level of consciousness allows us to protect. Our ability to take care of each other - not our might - is what sets us apart from other living things. It is our responsibility, not our gift, that distinguishes us.

There are easy things everyone can do to change their local ecosystem, food habits, communities, health and overall well-being. We don't have to wait around for laws or politicians or policy to change. We are not victims. We are powerful enough to make basic changes at home that will make big ripples. The changes are inexpensive, practical and healthy for everyone. 

Here are 10 things each of us can do now to live more sustainably at home.

1. Stop Making Excuses. Don't say you don't have time to cook for yourself, compost or think of ways to make the planet a brighter, sweeter, more beautiful place when the average American spends more than 34 hours a week watching television. Don't say you can't afford organic food if you still have the money for dinners out, a beer at your favorite watering hole, video games, manicures, a satellite radio subscription or a pack of cigarettes. Instead of finding all the reasons why something can't happen, focus on why something can. For the overwhelming majority of people, it is entirely possible to live healthier, happier and to practice responsible land stewardship. 

2. Love Your Body. All your work on this planet comes out of you. And the moment you start respecting and loving your own body is the moment you refuse to do anything that would put it in harm's way. Loving your self is the start toward exercise, a healthy whole-foods diet and the end of polluting, mindless buying and disconnection from the real world. Read the ingredients on your soap, shampoo and toothpaste and determine whether you want it on your skin, in your body or in nearby waterways.

3. Copy Nature. Mother Nature is one smart lady. From ethics to food production to giving more than you take, look to the land base for lessons on how to live your life. You've got to start trusting the Earth to provide. Everything you need - each and every thing! - exists in the natural world. The planet provides in abundance for your overall wellness, your medicine and your tools. You may have forgotten your faith in this bounty. That doesn't mean it isn't there. 

4. Grow Your Own Food. Growing your own food removes your need for Big Agriculture. By creating your own beds of greens, veggies and even fruit trees, you're taking yourself out of the monster machine that large-scale agriculture has become. There is no reason everyone can't be growing at least some of his or her own food. Even one thing. Even lettuce growing out of reused coffee tins in a sunny kitchen window. If you provide just one vegetable, herb or salad green you love for yourself, you'll be saving exponential amounts of money and fossil fuels otherwise spent in the transportation of that item to you commercially throughout your lifetime. Any fish tank can host an aquaponics array that will give you and your families fresh produce year-round. Herbs can grow in pots hanging from your kitchen walls. Start a community garden with your neighbors if you don't have the time to take care of so much on your own - and then split what you reap.

5.  Compost Your Food Scraps. About 20% of what we throw away as waste is actually food. Twenty percent! If no one ever threw a food scrap away ever again that would mean millions of pounds of food scraps each year turning into lush soil for backyard gardeners. Composting would minimize transportation costs associated with hauling garbage away from our homes. And it would nurture the dirt in everyone's backyard. Whether you feed your food scraps directly to your garden, or to a compost tumbler, or to the earthworms living in a container under your New York City apartment sink, you're creating a sustainable, circular system and limiting what gets added to landfills. If you don't have a garden, take your beautiful black topsoil you create and donate it to a community garden or your favorite Green Thumb. There is always a demand for gorgeous, healthy soil.

6. Eat Your Zip Code and Stop Buying Barcodes. We should all seek food closer to home, in our food shed, our own bioregion. This means enjoying seasonality and reacquainting ourselves with our home kitchens. If you're not pulling it from your backyard, see if you can get it from a neighbor's or at the farmers market over the weekend. The popularity of CSAs and markets like this has made it inexcusable to buy in-season veggies from more than 30 miles away. Anything that has a barcode is a packaged food item. Avoid these as much as humanly possible. Sugar, fillers and processed ingredients are the gateways to obesity, heart disease and unnatural consumption. Get rid of this garbage.

7. Touch More. Trees you walk by. Grass. Vegetables and fruits. Each other. Touch creates empathy and a sense of connection. A hand on the back. A hug. The soft petals of a flower. Tactile sensation is extremely important for sensory development. It's therapeutic to many of our ills. We don't do enough of it. Act more patient than you feel, practice kindness, and let people be whoever they are. Loving yourself and each other goes hand in hand with being more loving to the natural world around you. We are all connected.

8. Change Your Shopping Habits. The choices you make as a consumer are your most powerful positioning points as a member of this society. Where you put your money will dictate policy, trends, supply and demand. By making small, smart decisions every day about where your food, clothes, house supplies, beauty products and every thing else you pay for comes from, you will be making the biggest impact of all. 

9. Stop Eating So Much Meat. Eighteen percent of what we call the greenhouse effect is believed to be caused by methane, much of which is caused by cud-chewers like sheep, goats, camels, water buffalo and most of all, cattle - of which the world has an estimated 1.2 billion. According to the United Nations, raising animals for food generates more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, planes, ships, trucks and trains in the world combined. Seventy percent of the leveled rain forest in the Amazon is used to raise animals for meat consumption. How much of this stuff do we really need to eat? Try to lessen the amount of meat you consume on a daily basis. Shrink your meat portions when you cook at home. Try out Meatless Mondays or see if you can go a week without. A plant-based diet is a diet of peace: mind, body and soul. If you do buy meat, support the growing number of small farms doing excellent work with crop and animal rotations in pasture. Insist on buying only locally raised organic meats where farmers undertake responsible animal husbandry and holistic management. You should be able to say that the food you consumed - plant or animal -  lived a respectable life and was treated fairly. Cleaner, healthier, happier food translates into a better life for you.

10. Stop Throwing Everything Away. Paper towels, plastic cups, plastic straws, cellophane, paper napkins: stop what you are doing! Forty billion plastic utensils are used and thrown out every year in just the US; while paper products top the charts for waste added to landfills at 27%. To meet demand for plastic water bottles, Americans burn the energy equivalent of 32-54 million barrels of oil each year. So start sporting a handkerchief. Refill your water bottles. Buy some cloth napkins for goodness sake! See if you can go a whole year without using a plastic, throwaway shopping bag. Donate clothing, children's toys and used furniture to thrift shops. Post other items online for sale. And instead of paper towels, cut old clothes and towels into rags to pick up spills and clean house.

Have others to add that I missed? Note them in the comments below! 

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