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By Mia Severance I was sitting with my boss and coworker today, and we were discussing the world’s problems. The top one for me being THE EARTH DYING. It’s easy to fret about something that seems so large, even larger than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Ocean. However, the only way to tackle big issues are by taking small steps. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. Once we take the steps to change our attitude towards the things we consume, our actions need to follow.

I propose businesses make the first step. Businesses are organizations comprised of influential leaders, especially small businesses like the one I work for and observe in Westlake Village, California. However, even for businesses, it’s often hard to determine which steps to take to make a difference. So, I did some research and have compiled a number of actions that businesses can make in their offices and local communities.

Conservation of Energy

Hub101 has installed motion sensor lights to ensure that rooms are lit only when they are being used and that no light is left on accidentally throughout the day or night. Hub101’s space also enables a lot of natural light to shine through, reducing the need for artificial light during the day. When lighting is being used, compact fluorescent lights and LED lights are significantly “greener” meaning they last longer and use less energy. The longer-lasting feature is especially prudent since lightbulbs are extremely hard and dangerous to dispose of in an ecofriendly way. For example, according to Road Runner Waste Generation, the average office worker dispose of 10,000 sheets of office paper and 500 disposable coffee cups every year. This could be dealt with in a much more ecofriendly manner.

Join the movement, and help make the world a little greener.

Single-use Plastic and Paper Products

In today’s digital age, it is a wonder we use paper for anything! So, when you’re faced with the options of either printing or emailing documents, try to think email first—step further into the 21st century; the cloud is waiting for you. When paper is needed, eco-friendly paper is the best route. Post Consumer Waste paper (PCW) is made out of paper which has been used by the end consumer and then is collected for recycling from various recycling programs. This is the best paper to buy because it uses paper that would otherwise end up in the landfill rather than cutting down trees. A Forbes article explains that “making PCW recycled paper uses 45% less energy and creates half the waste of the traditional papermaking process. Purchasing products labeled as 100% PCW ensures you are using papers with the least impact. If 100% is not available, look for options with as much PCW content as possible, and don’t forget to recycle all your paper scraps instead of sending them to the landfill” (Forbes, 2013). Try to use paper products that have the PCW designation on paper products rather than the recycling symbol, which is an unregulated designation—meaning what may be recyclable in one area may not be recyclable in another.

Finally, another step companies can take is to provide glasses and real cutlery instead of plastic bottles and plastic cutlery. Businesses should also reconsider their use of vending machines, which encourage the use of single-use plastic products.

Green Power

A large step toward sustainability is signing up to purchase “green power” from your current utility provider. Green power is generated from renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, geothermal, hydropower and plant matter. Purchasing green power increases your electric bill by a small percentage, which is used to purchase clean energy that is fed into the electrical grid. To see if this is possible in your state, visit the EPA’s Guide to Purchasing Green Power.

The world around us is impacted by our actions. In the U.S., we have the luxury and ability to pay attention to what we consume and how we consume and the power to make small individual changes, which collectively make a big impact. We have reached a point where it is impossible to not pay attention to the climate crisis. We each have a responsibility to reduce our negative impact on the environment. Let’s take that personal responsibility further and implement it in our businesses. If we are not intentionally moving forward, we are falling behind. These not only are ideas for businesses, but they are also a few small steps businesses can take right now. There is no time to waste, and no more natural resources either.

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