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Whether you own your own business or work for someone else, it is a good practice to be mindful of your energy use and use of office supplies during your work day. There are many simple practices that will allow you to use less energy and produce less waste. This pays off by helping the environment and lowering costs as well.

  • Shut down your computer. According to a recent study by the Harvard Green Campus Initiative, computersare responsible for about 40% of the energy consumed by office equipment in the United States. One desktop computer left in full power mode for a year can result in 1,500 pounds of CO2 being released into the environment. Optimize your energy savings by shutting down your computer overnight and whenever you will be away from your desk for one hour or more during the day.
  • Keep a paper scrap pile. To reduce paper waste in the office, keep a scrap pile near the office printer and copier. For internal documents, re-use the paper in the scrap pile before reaching for a new piece of paper.
  • Have recycling bins everywhere. Just as important as having recycle bins for paper, cans and similar items is making sure staff and visitors know where to find them. Your office should have clear signage so people know where to put recycled items. Also consider having recycle bins out and visible at events and meetings sponsored by your office.
  • Turn off and unplug small appliances. If you have an office microwave or coffee machine, make sure it is turned off and unplugged each night, or put it on a timer to have it automatically shut down. Plugged in items waste energy even when not in use.
  • Bring your own mug and dishware. Instead of having disposable coffee cups, cold cups, plates and utensils, bring your own reusable items to use at lunchtime and snack time. Encourage others in the office to do the same. This will reduce waste and it will also save money otherwise spent on disposable paper items.
  • Carpool to events. Make it a common practice to carpool with others in your office when you attend joint meetings and seminars. Every time you carpool, you help keep one or more cars off the road and also save your business money it would otherwise have to pay in mileage reimbursement.

The Jewish imperative not to waste resources is derived from Deuteronomy (Chap. 20: 19-20) where the law of bal tashchit is found. This law tells us “don’t waste/destroy.” Taking the steps listed above will help you fulfill this commitment.



This blog originally appeared in jewishinstlouis.org at http://www.jewishinstlouis.org/blog_post.aspx?id=5331

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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