Now that the New Year is upon us, the Sustainable Lawyer is on the lookout for new ways to be “green” for 2012. TSL reached out to a few members of the Environmental Sustainability Task Force for some tips and hints on how to make 2012 greener at home, during your commute and in the office.
Try composting: Composting is a great way to reduce your environmental impact and receive tangible benefits (especially if you garden), and winter is a great time to start. You can compost inside or outside, on a small scale or large scale. You can buy compost bins/buckets, or make them yourself. Composted material (or black gold, as some call it) is ideal feed for your garden, and you can save money on gardening supplies such as Miracle-Gro and the like. Not much of a gardener? No problem, you can always donate your composted materials to a community garden or a neighbor in need. One of the members of the task force recommended we check out the City of Boston’s page on composting for more information, which is both helpful and informative. You can also check out this step by step guide on how to compost at home to learn more.
We all know the basics here — carpool with a friend or neighbor, take public transport whenever possible or giving biking a try (as long as you are a reasonable distance from work) when the weather allows. “Using public transportation is a great way to be greener on your morning commute” said Task Force Co-Chair Michelle O’Brien. Her other suggestion, albeit on a more personal scale, can also have a big impact. “Use one of the many gift cards you likely got this holiday season and invest in a quality reusable travel mug for your coffee or tea.” If you drink one (or more) cups of coffee or tea a day, it’s easy how you can prevent waste from piling up. Excluding weekends, that is AT LEAST 269 paper or Styrofoam cups per year. If you get everyone in your office to do the same, the waste reduction is off the charts (ex: an office of 10 can save 2,690 cups in one calendar year).
Though the holiday season is mostly passed us, Foley Hoag’s Jonathan Ettinger cited the value of sending electronic holiday cards rather than mailing them traditionally (saving paper from both envelopes and cards). Jonathan also points out a benefit TSL hadn’t thought of: “you receive immediate responses from people by return email, which you don’t get from paper cards.”
For something you can do as soon as tomorrow, there are plenty of suggestions. You could follow Mackie Shea O’Brien’s lead, or adopt some suggestions from the MA Trial Court. Carol Kaplan of Nixon Peabody recommended that we take a look at this list, from Oregon Lawyers for a Sustainable Future, for more ideas. Some of our favorites include:
- Desk-side recycling boxes are at each workstation.
- Trash cans are not at each workstation but only at central locations.
- Office policy states that all copy and print jobs should be double sided unless otherwise specified.
- Paper towels have 100% post-consumer recycled content.
- Timers have been installed, or procedures are in place, for turning off lights at the end of the day.
- Monitors are set to go to sleep after 15 minutes, or staff have been instructed to turn off monitors when leaving the office for 15 minutes or more.
- Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs
Make 2012 the year you start to take greening the planet seriously. Starting small can make a big impact.