June 17, 2024

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

This week’s “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” is a spotlight on GWRideConnect, a free ride-sharing service that assists commuters who are seeking daily transportation for the Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King George counties to employment locations in Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, Richmond, Dahlgren and other employment sites here in the Fredericksburg area.  What is great about GWRideConnect is that it can assist with taking part in one of the most underrated ways to help the environment on a regular basis — carpooling to work.

Why consider carpooling?  First and foremost, it reduces the amount of CO2 emissions generated by more vehicles being used.  Secondly, it reduces your own personal transportation costs.  Two great facets of sustainability!  GWRideConnect’s database contains hundreds of carpools from Caroline county, Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, Caroline and the City of Fredericksburg; if you’re interested in forming a car pool, the service will assist you with finding riders that work in your location.  You can also form a van pool through GWRideConnect.  The service also provides users with information about available commuter lots, as well as the Guaranteed Ride Home service in case something unexpected should happen.  Check out their website for more information: http://www.gwrideconnect.org.

For those who have friends and relatives commuting to the DC area, slugging is always an option that reduces the emissions footprint and saves time and money.  Check it out at:  http://www.slug-lines.com/.  Slugging is a term used to describe a unique form of commuting found in the Washington, DC area sometimes referred to as “Instant Carpooling” or “Casual Carpooling”. It’s unique because people commuting into the city stop to pick up other passengers even though they are total strangers!  However, slugging is a very organized system with its own set of rules, proper etiquette, and specific pickup and drop off.

While GWRideConnect serves a valuable purpose, the topic of carpooling makes me wonder if UMW should consider forming its own transportation service for faculty and staff that may be interested in commuting to and from work together.  Surely there are many people who take similar routes to work and would be interested in splitting transportation costs, reducing carbon emissions, and also maybe freeing up some parking on campus!  Perhaps a bulletin board could be posted at main office buildings where folks can post information about ridesharing or carpooling.  Maybe UMW needs to provide a small incentive to make this happen.  Preferred parking anyone???  If anyone should have any other ideas as to how to get this idea off the ground, leave a comment to this article or reach out to the Staff Advisory Council (http://sac.umwblogs.org).

If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable environments, please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.  The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

Last Week’s Tip: Spring Cleaning.

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

Even though Fredericksburg saw light snowfall earlier this week, and with it still a possibility in the upcoming forecast, Spring officially arrived on March 20th.  While it may be a little early to toss your winter jacket to the back of the closet, it’s not too early to start thinking about Spring Cleaning.  This week’s tip focuses on considering a more sustainable approach to this seasonal cleaning pastime.

One important thing to remember when cleaning your office or your home is many popular cleaning detergents contain chemicals that are toxic to the environment.  When it comes down to it, we’re more or less just talking about cleaning normal surfaces.  You’ll find that there are many alternatives to the cleaning detergents that you may normally use.  Moreover, they will probably wind up being less expensive than what you spend on name brand products.  A great site that contains recipes for making your own cleaning detergents can be found at The Sustainable Solution.  Check out how with just some vinegar and water you can clean your windows and floors.  Also, you may want to consider also using natural fiber sponges or an old t-shirt or piece of cloth as opposed to paper towels.

Some other sustainable spring cleaning tips for your home or office:

  • Use fresh flowers or an open box of baking soda as opposed to chemical air fresheners
  • Hang a clothesline to dry clothes naturally
  • Replace old bulbs with energy efficient LEDs or Energy Star bulbs
  • Always recycle
  • Donate instead of throwing away!

And when the warmer weather does finally arrive, remember at home to try and open windows and save air conditioning for those truly hot unbearable days.

If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable environments, please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.  The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

Last Week’s Tip: Meatless Mondays.

 

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

We wanted this week’s tip to point out something that has a very big impact on sustainability, but something that not everyone may be aware of.  Have you heard of the Meatless Monday movement?  Even though its been in existence since 2003, I had never heard of it until my wife brought it up to me several days ago.  The Meatless Monday movement is an international campaign that encourages people to not eat meat on Mondays in order to not only improve one’s personal health, but also the health of the planet.  One startling fact that highlights the effect that the consumption of meat has on the environment: it takes 5,214 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef!  Another interesting fact: it takes the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline to produce one pound of grain-fed beef in the United States.  With increased energy consumption, often comes the environmental damage we have seen take place in the United States over the last few decades.

We’re not suggesting everyone stop eating meat; that’s a personal choice.  As a fairly regular meat-eater, I’m always hesitant when I hear the word “meatless” or “vegetarian,” but the goal of the Meatless Monday campaign seems very reasonable for those of us who are not willing to make that jump to vegetarian or vegan, but are interested in ways to not only cut back on our meat consumption, but also help the environment.  The overall goal of the campaign is more to reduce your meat consumption as opposed to giving up meat altogether.  I strongly encourage you to go to the Meatless Monday website to read more about the campaign as well as browse through some great articles on healthy living, tasty meatless recipes, information about seasonable vegetables, and how certain businesses and schools are also adopting the idea of Meatless Mondays.  This is something that you could consider doing not only in the home but also at the workplace.  You may also find that by cutting out from consuming meat on Mondays (or any one day of the week for that matter), you’ll be saving money as meat prices have been on the rise over the past few months.

If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable environments, please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.  The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

Last Week’s Tip: Litter on Campus.

 

 

 

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

It takes a tremendous amount of work to maintain a sustainable campus.  Whether it’s the efforts of the President’s Council on Sustainability (PCS), the annual Recyclemania event, the upcoming Shred Event, the Do One Thing Campaign, or any of the other numerous programs and projects that UMW participates in to create a sustainability campus community.  One thing is definitely for sure — sustainability does not happen on its own.  One area that we can ALL do something about–and that we all have a responsibility to do something about–is littering.

Laziness, apathy, and ignorance are probably the major reasons people litter.  Even in the year 2013, you will see people throw used wrappers on the ground in a fast food parking lot or leave their paper coffee cups in a supermarket shopping cart.  How often are you startled on I-95 as you watch someone throw a can or bottle of something from their car window (one of the often overlooked facts of littering is that it causes a tremendous amount of car accidents each year: http://www.greenecoservices.com/deadly-litter-and-car-accidents/).  Even for a school as Eco-friendly as UMW, litter is still a problem — on the grounds, in office hallways, building bathrooms, etc. — and as representatives of the university, we all have a responsibility to keep UMW clean and litter-free.  Some simple steps that you can take:

  • Make a commitment to not litter and encourage others to do the same
  • Pick up litter when you see it
  • If you smoke, carry a pocket ashtray instead of throwing cigarette butts on the ground

Litter not only damages the appearance of our campuses, but it also harms plants and animals, not to mention the Earth.  It seems that within the last ten years or so, focus with regards to sustainability has shifted heavily to recycling, composting, and using biodegradable products–all very important areas that should be highlighted in order to protect the environment.  However, littering continues to take place and it is often not the center of many environmental campaigns.  The good news is–it can be maintained if you’re committed to doing so.

If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable environments, please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.  The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

Last Week’s Tip: Donating Blood

 

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

When most of us think about sustainability, I would imagine the topics that immediately come to mind include reducing waste, recycling on a regular basis, and conserving energy.  But what about the ultimate act of sustainability — donating blood.

I’ve been donating blood on a regular basis for a little over ten years.  However, I have been technically eligible to donate blood for about 20 (wait–that can’t be right–I cannot be that old!).  So why did I go ten years without donating?  Well, like many people, the main reason I never donated was because I was never asked.  On those occasions when I would pass a blood drive being held at my college while I was a student, I would never seriously considered donating.  I would think of needles and how I’d rather not get stuck with one (how many of you are in this boat?).  No one I knew personally had come and asked me to donate, and no one I knew was donating blood that day, so where was my personal connection with the whole thing?  And probably at that moment I didn’t even have the time to donate.  You know college students–so very busy and only have time for studying and nothing else.  In retrospect, for me these are all pretty flimsy excuses.  When I was in my mid-twenties, a co-worker organized a blood drive and asked me if I wanted to donate.  It was probably the first time I had ever been asked, and I remember initially being hesitant like many of us are when we are asked to do something we’ve never done before.  But after she explained to me what was involved (a mini-physical is performed where the technician checks your pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and hemoglobin level, you answer some basic questions about your lifestyle, travel history, and medication/health history, the donation itself takes about 8-10 minutes, and you then enjoy some refreshments before you leave), it was hard to find a legitimate reason to say no.  I can honestly say that donating blood for the first time changed my life and I’ve been donating either blood or platelets on a regular basis ever since.  I would like to think that most of us live our lives thinking about how we can help others.  When you donate blood, you can save up to three lives.  What better way is there to help others than giving the precious sustainable gift of life?

So if you’ve never donated blood before and are eligible (tips for first time donors), please consider stopping by one of the many blood drives that UMW holds throughout the year.   If you cannot donate because you are ineligible, encourage others to donate.   The Fredericksburg Campus organizes several drives throughout each semester, and the Stafford Campus has been holding blood drives every six months since Fall 2011.  The last blood drive at the Fredericksburg Campus took place on February 19th, and the next blood drive at the Stafford Campus will take place on April 10th.  If you’d like to make an appointment to donate blood on April 10th at the Stafford Campus, please email me (kcaffrey@umw.edu).  Colleges and Universities play one of the biggest roles in collecting blood by holding drives on a regular basis.  These drives are not just for students — they are for staff, faculty, friends, family– anyone and everyone in the campus and local community.  So will I see you at the next blood drive?  You can look for me at the refreshment table.  I’ll be the guy who just saved some lives and is kicking back enjoying a big bunch of Oreos.

For some additional facts about donating blood, go to: http://www.redcrossblood.org/learn-about-blood/blood-facts-and-statistics

If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable environments, please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.  The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

Last Week’s Tip: How To Turn Consumers Green.

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

We wanted to use this week’s entry to point out a very good article written by author and Duke University professor Dan Ariely entitled   “How To Turn Consumers Green.”  In the article, Ariely examines why even though studies show that, as a majority, people are altruistic and put the happiness and well-being of others (future generations in the case of environmental concerns) above their own, they often have difficulty aligning their behaviors with their intentions.  As illustrated in the following excerpt from the article:

“Information clearly isn’t the problem in the sustainability realm. We are inundated with statistics on global warming, water conservation, fuel efficiency, and myriad other environmental concerns. This information is right at our fingertips, readily available and sometimes even shoved into our ear canals. Yet it doesn’t seem to get results. While we may be able to change beliefs through informational appeals, igniting action is a different story. If we want to influence behavior, we can’t assume that providing information will do the trick.”

The article goes on to suggest some very practical ways to adopt behavioral changes that will carry through over the long term, from making important environmental decisions during a major life event (such as buying a house) to using children as a motivating factor for making change (the article highlights how children were instrumental in anti-smoking and seatbelt campaigns).

Hopefully you will enjoy the article and learn some things you may not have thought about before.  If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable environments, please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.

The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

Last week’s Tip of the Week: Utilizing MS Office Folders to Save Paper

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

We are creatures of habit.  Fifteen or so years ago when offices first began using e-mail, you may have found yourself printing out every single one that you would send and receive.  Was it really necessary to print out that “Thank you for my birthday card!” e-mail from your co-worker?  At the time with e-mail being so new, maybe many of us DID think it was necessary!  Hopefully you still do not take printing out e-mails to that extreme, but if you took a moment to think about it, is it necessary to print out the e-mails that you do on a regular basis?  Maybe there are some annual projects that involve always printing out the correspondence between involved parties so that you have it as a reference for the future.  But is there another way to manage that in order to reduce the amount of printing that you do?

One suggestion that might be useful is to utilize the Folder feature in MS Outlook to store correspondence.  Hopefully you already do this as it’s an excellent way to stay organized.  But if you are not utilizing the Folder feature in Outlook, it is very easy to do.  Simply go to the Help feature in Outlook and browse “How to create a Folder” to get started.  Once you get familiar with using folders in Outlook, you will likely start to think of more and more ways to reduce the amount of e-mails that you normally print out.  Another great aspect of using folders is that if you’re checking your e-mail from home using EagleNet, you will be able to access your folders to pull up information that you might need while away from the office.  Much more convenient than having to wait to get back to the office to browse through a binder or stack of papers with that information printed out.  In addition to e-mails, also consider (if applicable) saving documents, presentations, and projects on your office’s shared drive as opposed to printing them out.  Always remember that not everything should be saved electronically — refer to the UMW policy regarding the Electronic Storage of Highly Sensitive Data as there are specific restrictions regarding how and when data can be electronically stored.

If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable environments, please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.

The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

Last week’s Tip of the Week: Donations.

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

Picking up right where we left off last semester, the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” is back!  If you’re new to this series, the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” is a weekly article featuring different ideas and suggestions that hopefully people will put into practice in order to create more sustainable office environments.  And sometimes, we like to look outside of the office as well.

Did you know January is the most popular month for joining a gym?  We indulge a bit more than we wanted to during those last few weeks of December, and then come January 1st, we’re making plans to join a gym, go seven times a week, and lose 40lbs in a month.  Obviously very achievable goals.  We know that you have probably already started to see results, so maybe now is the time to think about donating all those clothes you no longer fit into/no longer wear.  It is estimated that the typical American discards approximately 68 pounds of used clothing a year, resulting in two quadrillion pounds of clothing being tossed into our landfills every year.  Therefore, in addition to donating to those in need, donating your used clothes or items to charities is one of the easiest ways to help the environment.  You can also deduct your contributions from your taxes as you would a monetary donation.  Furthermore, you can start the new year off right by clearing clutter from your house.  Before you know it Spring will be here — so get a jump on that annual Spring cleaning!  Here are just a few organizations that accept clothing donations:

  • American Red Cross  (collects clothes, paired shoes, handbags, linens, stuffed animals, small toys; will come to your home to collect any clean, wearable, unwanted clothing)
  • Vietnam Veterans of America (Pick Up Please can pick up your donation within 24 hours in many areas; your donation of clothes, household goods, books, shoes, small appliances, electronics, and more make a big difference in the lives of America’s Veterans and their families. The items you donate generate the majority of the funding to support the local, state, and national programs of the Vietnam Veterans of America)
  • The Salvation Army  (one of the more well known charitable organizations, you can go to their website to find a nearby location or schedule a pick-up)
  • Dress for Success (The mission of Dress for Success is to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life)
  • Big Brother Big Sister Foundation (When you donate clothing and other items to the BBBS Foundation, the donations are sold in bulk at their own “Big B” thrift store and other stores. The net profits then go to BBBS mentoring organizations. During times of need, donations are given to families)

This article is not a means of officially endorsing any of the above organizations, but rather just giving the reader some suggestions of places to look into if you are considering donating clothes or other items to charity.  Of course, you can also donate locally — churches, thrift stores, homeless shelters, school clothing drives, etc.  Rappahannock Goodwill Industries contains a list of goodwill stores in the area that you can bring your items to donate.  The goal should simply be to DONATE your used clothes as opposed to throwing them out.  Help others, help yourself, and help the environment!  We know what you’re thinking (“But what if I gain weight back?  I may need those old clothes!”).  Don’t be such a pessimist!  We KNOW you’re going to keep that weight off, so it’s time to buy yourself some new threads and donate the old ones to charity!  And don’t forget — Faculty/Staff and Faculty/Staff secondary card holders (a spouse or partner) are eligible to use the UMW Fitness Center with a UMW ID Card.  Plan your work-outs around your work schedule and you’ll not only save money by avoiding high fitness center/gym fees, but you’ll also be helping out the environment by reducing the amount of car trips you make by going to another fitness center/gym.

If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable environments, please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.

The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

 

Office Sustainability Tip of the Week

For the past two months our weekly tips have included features on coffee, lighting, junk mail, kitchenware, green meetings, and more.  The goal of this series is to educate employees about ways to improve sustainability in the workplace.  But this week we’re asking YOU to do something to educate other employees.  If you’re reading this article and consider yourself a conscientious individual who is concerned about having a greener office, we’re challenging you to step up to the plate and form a Green Team in your office!

What is a Green Team you ask?  Well, since you asked, a Green Team is a groups of staff members from an office/department that meet regularly to educate themselves and their coworkers about sustainability.  The goal of a Green Team is to ultimately come up with ways to improve office practices when it comes to sustainability. You’re not being asked to recreate the wheel;  although the more ambitious, the better! Simply organizing a small group of 2-3 people to meet every month and discuss sustainability in your office would be a great start.  So after you’ve drafted some like-minded individuals to put together a Green Team for your office, here are some ideas to help you get started:

  • Meet every month to discuss observations you have made about office behaviors (items not being recycled, lights being left on, excessive paper towels being used in the kitchen, etc.)
  • Take the time during full staff meetings to bring up your observations to other co-workers and get them to make a commitment to change harmful/wasteful behaviors
  • Establish goals for your office; start with small goals to build momentum (e.g. getting everyone on board with shutting off their computer monitors when leaving their offices for lunch or especially for the day)
  • Use signs to educate colleagues about sustainability issues (“Don’t forget to turn off the lights!” posted near the light switch in the kitchen or in the copy room)
  • Post articles about sustainability in a general area space in your office where co-workers can see it, or send emails containing links to articles on sustainability for your co-workers to read (remember to do this in moderation).  Who knows, maybe someone missed this week’s “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” in EagleEye.  As a member of your office’s Green Team, you can share it with your co-workers in case they may have missed it.
  • Form an informal “Green Orientation” program where you teach new employees about ways to go green in your office when they first start

Now that you have read this article and gotten some ideas, there is no time to waste (pun intended) — start a Green Team in your office now!  If you have any suggestions for things we can all do differently each day to create more sustainable office environments, please feel free to leave a comment or email me the idea to be featured in a future Tip of the Week.

The PCS Action Group members for the “Office Sustainability Tip of the Week” are Kevin Caffrey, Elizabeth Sanders, Robert Louzek, and Dre Anthes.

Last week’s tip: Social Sustainability

Howe to UMW Graduates: You’re Destined to Correct Your Parents’ Course (The Free Lance-Star)