Sustainability in the Work Place – 10 Easy Steps You Can Take to Make a Difference

Sustainability in the Work Place – 10 Easy Steps You Can Take to Make a Difference

by Monika Star

I believe one of the best ways to encourage an eco-friendly lifestyle is to become a role model and share what you know about sustainability with your family and friends. For my part, I went through the Sustainable Community Steward training program offered by the WSU Snohomish County Extension. In addition to receiving university-level training and working on inspiring projects, I met incredible people through this program that I absolutely love!

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Heather Teegarden, pictured above as “Heather The Recycler,” who is the Natural Resources Outreach Program Coordinator. She shared her Top 10 Suggestions for how to reduce your daily environmental impact in the workplace:

  1. Commuting: See what options you have for tele-commuting. Look into taking the bus, vanpooling or even carpooling! Check out the feasible bike routes if biking to work is an option.

  2. Morning coffee: Does your morning commute involve a stop at your favorite coffee stand? Be sure to turn off your engine so you are not idling for extended periods of time. Better yet, park and go inside! Be sure to bring your reusable mug and choose a company committed to sustainability/using “shade-grown and fair-trade” coffee sources!

  3. Get creative with the copy machine: Get to know (and use whenever possible) the double-sided feature. Instead of discarding paper only printed on one side, save it and print to the backside when possible.

  4. Rethink printing projects: Does the agenda need to be printed or can it be sent out electronically? Does the meeting require people to travel to the office or can it be done via teleconference? Rethinking can really save many types of resources!

  5. RECYCLE! Be sure to check out the guide for your office’s recycling hauler, it may accept different items that your hauler at home. Some offices are much more limited on what can be recycled. “Wish cycling” (when you think, “this should be recyclable” as you toss it into the blue bin creates contamination at the Recycling Center and has led to a reduction in recycling materials markets. When in doubt, check it out (or throw it out).

  6. Take your lunch outside and enjoy nature: The more people connect with nature, the more they see the importance of taking care of our natural resources. Plus, it is awesome for your health to have frequent “Nature Baths!”

  7. At the end of the day be sure to turn off your monitors. Saving that “vampire” energy from sucking unnecessary kilowatts throughout the evening! If you are going away for the weekend, or an extended vacation, turn your computer all the way off. Rebooting is good for it occasionally.

  8. Turn off the lights when you finish in a meeting room. So many businesses leave lights on unnecessarily

  9. Ask your HR or Management about setting up a “Green Team.” It is a great way to engage employees and educate the other staff members.

  10. Want to do even more? Sign up to become a Sustainable Community Steward!

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Sustainable Community Stewards participate in a variety of educational training and community events. Last year my team helped out with “Repair Cafe” events where people had the opportunity to bring in broken items and community volunteer “fixers” would help repair them so they could be used again instead of thrown away. We also get to go on “Behind the Scenes” tours of recycling centers, alternative power sources and commercial composting sites. For information about Sustainable Community Stewards current offerings and the next round of volunteer training, see extension.wsu.edu/snohomish/naturalresources/sustainable-community-stewards
Join us and see what you’ll learn. Master Recycler bragging rights are just part of the fun!

Monika Star is an avid wellness advocate, beach watcher, arts promoter and a natural connector. She is the community outreach director for the NW Mind Body Spirit Connection events and enjoys spending time meeting folks who are doing good things for our community.