January 13, 2011

With the New Year really begun now, there are a number of different resolutions that you can still make in your own life that can have an impact on the environment, and your wallet.  Below are six easy changes that many of us can make in our daily lives that will be able to accomplish both of these goals and start 2011 sustainably. 

1. I will get rid of the stuff that I don't need or use.
Admit it - your closet is full of had-to-have items that have been punished to a life of hanging unworn. You have enough notepads, pens, books, magnets, and collectibles to fill a mini storage unit. Yes, our purchases keep the economy going, but most of us buy far more than we need. (There are whole TV shows dedicated to demonstrating ways to unclutter!) Remember that packaging, waste, and pollution are created to make these items available to you. If you trash those once-new goodies when you're no longer interested in them, they will live in a landfill for years and years. It's time to clean out, and donate to your favorite charity or to individuals who can put these items to good use.
2. I will avenge my phantom load.

Phantom load has nothing to do with the pounds that mysteriously appeared on your midsection over the holidays. The term refers to the energy wasted by electronics and power chargers when they are plugged in but not in use. That's right - your computer cord, cell phone charger, and time-telling DVD player are all sucking energy from the outlet even when there isn't anything attached or being watched (hence the spooky phantom-ness). Actually cut the power to your electronics by plugging them into a power strip and flipping the switch to off when you're not watching or listening, or remember to unplug these devices each day after you have fully charged or used them.
3. I will be smarter than bottled water companies and drink for free what they are trying to sell me.

Kicking the plastic water bottle habit might sound like an impossible feat if you're as addicted as the average thirsty American; last year we consumed about 50 billion plastic water bottles. If the fact that plastic is bad for the environment doesn't get you to quit, just think: Several bottled water brands use the same H20 that's available from your faucet. So buy an eco-chic reusable stainless steel bottle, and refill it throughout the day - for free. Here at Avanti, we have a water cooler that irradiates the water to keep the impurities out, and makes the water cleaner than the standard filtering you get from bottled water.
4. If I can remember to set the DVR I can remember to bring my own bags to the grocery store.

It's as if plastic shopping bags are required to exit a store!  The disposable sacks are forced on customers even when the purchase is just a can of soda. But plastic bags are made from petroleum and only about 1 percent of the estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags consumed worldwide are recycled each year. Most end up in landfills (where they take perhaps 1000 years to decompose) or in the sea. If you start bringing your own bags now, you'll be ahead of the curve if plastic ones become outlawed in your community.  As a side benefit, these reusable grocery bags fit more items, so that makes less trips in and out of the house to bring in your groceries.
5. I will consider whether my meal came from the farm or the factory.

Big agriculture isn't all bad. Everyone has a guilty culinary pleasure that comes from a big factory (see: Oreos, and Cap'n Crunch). But while you're worrying about your own carbon footprint, remember that your food has one too. Think of how many miles your food has traveled (do you really need berries from Chile?), how many chemicals are used, and how much pollution and waste have been generated in the production of your foodstuffs. Support local agriculture by shopping for food at a farmers market. Doing this and buying and eating foods that are in season, will both reduce the cost of your grocery bill, and they will taste better on your plate.
6. I will take a day off from road rage and take mass transit or car-pool one day a week.

If you have public transportation options available to you, try switching to the bus one day a week. According to the American Public Transportation Association, public transportation use saves 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline each year, and can reduce household expenses by $6,200 every year. Plus you'll get a day off from road rage. If you don't live near public transportation, try organizing a once-a-week carpool with your neighbors or co-workers. You'll save on fuel, tolls, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by removing cars from the road.  

We also want to report to you on our 2010 Copy Paper Usage Initiative (aka the Great Copy Paper Caper). Our goal was to reduce the amount of copy paper we used in our office by 15% during 2010 compared to 2009. We are pleased to report that although we did not make our goal of 15%, we did reduce usage by 12.5%. That equals 500 pounds of paper you saved!

Our goal is to reduce usage by another 10% in 2011.  Thank you everyone for your efforts and Happy Sustainable New Year!



Thanks, and live green!  
Matt Gall, ext 8608

avanti recycled
                     OUR MISSION 
Our mission is to promote, support and measure sustainability throughout Avanti and Omnigraphics and to insure that each strategic decision takes into account its current and future impact on our environment.