August 18, 2011

       In a recent Avanti sustainability meeting we were talking about the ways a company can promote its sustainability efforts both internally and externally. The hope is that others will take notice and be inspired to be more sustainable in their own personal lives and work environments. This gave me the idea to write this newsletter about what all of us can do to show off the ways we are helping the environment and be proud of the difference we are making. I'll be writing about being proactive, being an influence on others and also some new updates on what Avanti is doing right now to show how green we can be. Enjoy!


Speak Up!

       It's a given that offices use fair amounts of paper. The key is to be vocal when striving to reduce the amount of paper used. Ask questions and give feedback to identify ways to reduce that usage. That old twenty page report that you've been printing daily or weekly for ages? Is it relevant anymore? Can it be emailed or put on a shared drive? Even some of the one page summaries or those prints that are more habitual than functional could be worth questioning. This could lead to improved workflow as well. The other side of speaking up is politely reminding coworkers that they don't need print everything out for you. If you don't need a hard copy, just remind your coworker that they can email you the information. Try to eliminate unused duplicates where you can and make others aware if they assume many copies of a document are needed for something.

It's OK to Say No


       There are two phrases I've become accustom to saying at checkout counters: "I don't need a bag for that" and "I brought my own bag for that." Using reusable shopping bags (or no bag at all) is an idea that is worth bringing up even though I'm sure we've all heard it. It's a simple thing to do to reduce plastic and paper waste that not everyone has caught on to yet. The more people that see all of us proudly walking in and out of stores with our own shopping bags the more it will catch on. I'm always happy to hear cashiers ask me, "do you need a bag for this?" This means that either management or customers have been questioning the effectiveness of "one bag for one item." Just remember that you're the customer and if you don't need a bag, politely let the cashier know. The greenest way to go about this is to find a tote bag around the house you can use rather than purchasing one from a store.

Bring it Inside


       Make recycling just as easy as throwing things away. Easier even. A prominently placed indoor recycling bin where the kitchen or bathroom trash cans are will improve the odds that the recyclable material makes it to the outdoor bin that actually finds its way to the recycling center. When people come into your home they will notice that you have the recycling bins. If they are surprised, you can tell them how much easier it makes daily recycling by reducing trips out to the big bins in the garage or outside.

I'm Walking Here!



       If you live near a downtown area it's easy to stack up the reasons for walking, bicycling, carpooling or taking the bus as much as you can. Especially the walking and biking. Getting outside, burning calories, saving on gas money, eliminating car emissions... I'm lucky enough to live in a town where I can walk to most places I need to go. I definitely take advantage of it. What if you don't live near your routine stops? If driving is a must, try to consolidate your trips into one afternoon of errands a week. Or take a break from the rush hour and get the shopping done on the way home from work to avoid additional trips. When getting together with friends and relatives, try to carpool together.

Donating = Reusing


       Donating is basically giving someone else the chance to reuse an item. Tossing or even recycling things around the house that still can serve a purpose shouldn't be an option. The greener option is to make more used products are available to people. This reduces the dependency on having to buy new products that take new unnecessary energy to produce. There are plenty of thrift stores in our metro area that will make sure you get a receipt for your tax deductable donation. Some organizations even come pick things up at your home. Spread the word and get friends together to help each other out with the bulky stuff to make a group effort out of it. Additionally you never know what you may find in second hand shops that would be a great alternative to something you were thinking of purchasing new for yourself.

Yard Waste Isn't Waste      


       The end of summer isn't the time to start a garden, but it is a time to prep for the next season. Start composting all those grass clippings, leaves and plants that are done for the season. My father has done this as long as I can remember and swears by the results for his garden plot. Don't let all those nutrients keep leaving your yard when you can be putting them right back into your garden when the material is broken down. Plant based foods scraps from your home are also great to get some extra nutrients back into your garden soil. The more mulching done before they enter the compost heap, the faster the turnover. It doesn't have to cost anything to build a bin either since you could use wood scraps, fence material or anything to make a box with some small holes for ventilation. They don't have to look shabby either. You can make it something to actually show off if you get creative with it or incorporate it into the aesthetic of your own yard and garden.



       One of the strongest ways to really make it known to others that you are serious about improving the environment for the benefit of us all is to volunteer. We are lucky to have organizations like The Greening of Detroit around to mobilize people for tree plantings and urban gardening. I did a few tree plantings myself this spring and had a blast. I met a lot of nice people from different backgrounds, got my exercise for the day and really left feeling like I made a tangible difference in the community. Inspire people with your stories of the fun you had making a difference. Better yet, get them to join in because you often can work in teams or groups.

Be The Example             


       In summary, you can be the example that gets others to take notice and begin helping in their own ways. Tell your family and friends what you know and that it is important to you. Be seen, be heard. Your example will make a difference! You can start by making small changes which create this attitude that can encourage you to make more small changes, and then bigger changes, until you find that you are living green. People will be especially keen to follow your green example if they can see tangible evidence of the personal benefits.

How is Avanti Doing Lately?           



       We do need office supplies just like the next company does. Based on a summary report we receive from Staples, Avanti has a 32% environmental rating with our office supply purchases. This compares to 10% for their average customer.


Avanti places 97% of our orders online. (The most efficient method) Each order placed was greater than $75.00 which reduces invoices and improves order consolidation. We are always looking to consolidate orders from other suppliers. Bulk shipping discount incentives are a good thing because less shipping means less fuel burned by unneeded deliveries.


       Here in the Taylor office we now have our coffee mugs, glassware and flatware being used in the lunch room & office areas. We feel it's even greener than compostable cutlery & cups. Our Energy Star dishwasher will be installed soon to ensure we can efficiently handle the volume of dishes and also set a standard for sanitary concerns. We are also revamping our recycling area in the lunch room. We have new signs for improved visibility on the recycling bins and more options which now will include cardboard and cream/milk carton recycling right in the lunch room.

          I look forward to seeing all of you Avanti staffers that will be out at our company outing at Romanowski Park today for a fun day of gardening and clean up. It's also a great opportunity to ask one of The Greening of Detroit staff members about volunteering.


Take care and stay green!




Nick Tritt, ext. 2221 




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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.