Friday, September 11, 2009

Eco-checklist

Kudos to Brother John Hesch, Local 565 Green Steward who recently sent in this Eco-checklist. Please feel free to share these ideas with others in your locals.

At our recent LEC meeting, I was asked to provide the LEC with five (5) things that every employee can ask their Supervisor about the organization's environment commitment.

1) Are we part of a recycling program for office consumables? (i.e. toners, cartridges, batteries, old computers and printers, etc.) If not, why? I know it was suggested to our employer back in January that each office should have a box for recycling batteries. To date, I have not seen one.

2) Are the washrooms ECO friendly? (i.e. - hand dryers vs. paper towels, organic soap, low flow toilets, etc.) Yes, this is more of a property management issue, but as a tenant in the building, we have the ability to liaise with our landlords to ensure that they are environmentally responsible too. (i.e. waste diversion, cleaning products, hydro, etc.)

3) Are we actively encouraging ECO friendly habits? (i.e. - Are people being told / asked to turn off lights, computers, radios, fans, etc. when they leave the office? Are people being asked / told to bring coffee mugs, travel mugs, water canteens to the office to cut down on the number of paper cups and plastic bottles in the trash? Does the company host/promote litterless meetings?) I left our office at 11 pm the other night and two manager’s offices had radios, lights and computers still on, overnight.

4) Are we actively attempting to reduce our overall energy consumption? (i.e. - fluorescent lights, motion activated lights, IT notifications to turn off computers at the end of the day, IT installing power bars to reduce "ghost energy usage" etc.) Without a doubt, the consumption of energy is one of our biggest contributors to our carbon footprint. Whether you know it or not, the lights in our building burn 24/7. There is no need for this. A huge amount of energy is wasted every night and even more so on the weekends. Our organization just spent a great deal of money to retro fit the office including new paint and windows. Why aren't we spending money to reduce our energy usage?

5) Lastly, a common element in every company that is actually green, not just one that says it is on paper, but is actually green in everything they do, is a carbon footprint assessment. The David Suzuki Foundation actually recommends in their guide "Doing Business in a New Climate" that calculating a carbon footprint is the first step in going green. Think about it, how can we possibly know where we're going, without understanding where we are right now. There are companies that will calculate this information for us, some will even do it for free. All we have to do is ask.

But most importantly, what is your Executive Committee and/or Management Teams doing to lead the way, lead by example, and encourage ECO friendly habits to their staff. I was in line at the coffee shop in our building a few weeks ago and saw one of my Supervisors buying coffee in a paper cup. Jokingly and as a friendly reminder, I said; "Where's your mug?" and pointed to my travel mug which I was in the process of refilling. The response, and the ribbing I took from others about the comment later, made it clear to me that the ECO program at our office is not much more than words on paper.

So just to re-cap and summarize, employees should be asking about:

1) Recycling Office Consumables
2) ECO Friendly Washrooms
3) ECO Friendly Office Habits
4) Reducing Energy Consumption
5) Calculating our Carbon Footprint

and then looking for their Managers and Supervisors to lead by example and encourage others to follow suit.

Yours in solidarity,


John Hesch
Green Steward
OPSEU Local 565

1 comment:

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