Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Way to GTO!

by Sarah Lyons, Administrative Assistant

A photo of Sylvia McLaughlin, one of Save The Bay’s founding members, hangs in the hallway and watches over me as I work at my desk. The gorgeous Bay landscape and Sylvia’s determined smile are part of what prompted me to recently become head of our Greening The Office (GTO) committee. GTO is a new, inter-departmental group committed to the task of reducing our carbon footprint, and adhering as much as possible to the three R’s--reducing, reusing, and recycling.

It is amazing how much paper, cardboard, electronics, desks, plastics, food waste, disposable bags, metals and more a normal office can go through in just a single day. But Save The Bay is no normal office, and we set about to reduce, reuse, recycle (and compost!) everything we could get our hands on.

A war was already being waged on the most obvious culprit, paper. Some sources say that the consumption of paper in the United States increases by 20% every year. To combat this, we replaced all virgin paper with post-consumer recycled content paper products. And all non-sensitive used paper, including shredded sensitive documents, are placed in clearly-labeled recycling bins. If only one side of a piece of paper is used for a print-job, it’s flipped over and re-used.

A small compost bin is in the kitchen for our discarded food scraps, and my own, personal compost bin has never been happier with the amount of veggie and fruit material I bring home since we have some very healthy staffers. Cotton towels are hanging in the kitchen and bathrooms, and the small amount of paper towels still used is added to the compost. Environmental and animal-friendly soaps and detergents were also thrown into the mix, as well as compostable cups and plates when re-usables are not available.

On the to-do list is the addition of more office plants, a basement cleanout to support bulk orders of supplies (thus cutting down on fuel for transport and packing materials), and aerators for the sinks (supplied by EBMUD). We're always looking to do more, so please feel free to share any ideas you have!

All of these steps are singularly small, but together they make a big difference. It's important to remember—when faced with the daunting task of saving the Bay--that every little bit helps. Not all our efforts to save the Bay need to take on the Bay; some can happen right in our downtown office.

Office greening resources:
The Environmentally Green Office at a Glance

1 comment:

darcie said...

A new trash waste reduction slogan I heard the other day adds another "R" to the three R's"
Reduce, Reuse, Recyclable, AND "Rot"!
Promoting composting and green waste (rot) bins. Incorporating a fourth concept into the waste reduction process by encouraging us to start composting food waste.