Green Business Bureau News
In the United States, approximately 135 million cell phones are dumped in landfills every year. In an interesting infographic, Leah Blunt from Earth911, illustrates the impact of cell phone recycling.
Many businesses provide bottled water for employees — in a vending machine or from the company’s cafeteria. The cost per gallon of bottled water is more expensive than gasoline according to Readers Digest. More than 10 million barrels of oil are used to make bottled water. Americans discard more than 60 million water bottles a day, which is 22 billion bottles each year. Some water bottles can take 1,000 years to biodegrade, according to Eating Well magazine.
A more cost-effective and long-term solution is to install a water filtration system in an office or building. Water filtration can be as simple as a Brita-style carafe, great for small businesses; it can be as comprehensive as a whole-building system filters water as it enters the building. Most water filters have o-rings to help facilitate a water-tight seal between the filter sump and head. According to filtersfast.com, an o-ring should be replaced every two filter changes to protect your water filter system from leaks. Some water-filtration companies analyze water for free as part of its sales processes. This is a good way to start. After you have had your water analyzed, you can choose which of the following four primary types of water filters, according to Consumer Reports, will best fit your needs:
For a business with just one or two people at the location, a carafe will work, but if the office staff is larger and drinks more than a gallon or two of water per day, a carafe will not meet the office needs.
Manufacturers includeBrita and Pur. Carafe and filter systems range in price from $10 to around $50.
The disadvantages of carafe filters are that they are slow, may clog easily and need frequent filter replacements, according to Consumer Reports. Continuing costs can be high as filter cartridge life is short. Businesses will want to stock several so an employee can change the filter easily.
Photo of a Brita Carafe Filter by pjohnkeane via Flickr
Faucet-mounted filters are a cinch to install. You simply unscrew the faucet aerator and replace it with the filtering device. Most models come with adapters so they fit faucets threaded on the inside or outside. Some models include an indicator light or signal when the filter needs to be changed, according to Consumer Reports.
Prices range from under $20 to as much as $100. The filter must be monitored by someone and changed as needed.
Although not having to hire a plumber is a plus, faucet-mounted filters are really carafe filters that fit the faucet. They are slow when used for filtering water and require frequent filter changes. In some cases, they may not fit on the end of your faucet.
Photo of a Brita faucet filter by gocarts via Flickr
Countertop Water Filters
Countertop filters screw on the faucet after you remove the aerator. The filter system is larger, lasts longer and removes more contaminants than smaller filters. However, they take up counter space and may be difficult to locate in a business with little or no counter space. These are priced from $60 to more than $250. A plumber is not needed for installation. Most filter cartridges last for 500 gallons of water, according to datcp.wi.gov.
An inconvenience for businesses is the need to assign someone to periodically check the filter and change it when needed. Replacement costs for the filter can be costly — dependent on how efficient the filters are and how many contaminants the filter removes.
Photo of a Countertop Filter by Sam Bald via Flickr
These plumber-installed single filter units take under-the-counter space. A hole is drilled in the counter top for water outlet. Depending upon the manufacturer, the number of contaminants removed varies from only a few to over sixty. Under-the-counter filters and countertop units commonly handle great amounts of water, according to Consumer Reports. Filter cartridge replacements are about the same as the countertop units. Someone needs to be responsible for filter changes.
The filters start at around $80 and can easily exceed $200.
Photo of a Culligan under-the-counter filter by Average Jane via Flickr
Reverse Osmosis filters
Reverse osmosis is a good technology for removing many contaminants from water and is the only method approved for removing arsenic from water.
Costs range from $130 to $500.
Businesses must deal with the high cost of acquisition — the filters waste up to three gallons of water for every gallon filtered, according to Consumer Reports, and need to be cleaned with bleach on a regular basis. As this system uses a porous membrane for filtering, it eventually needs to be replaced.
Photo of an RO water filter by Nat Tarbox via Flickr
Whole Location Filters
Initial costs are higher and installation requires some minor plumbing work. However, filter life is the longest of any water filtration system and all the water is filtered as it placed at either the inlet pipe or the cold-water distribution pipe. Less contaminants are removed than from a reverse-osmosis filter but the system is attractive to business owners with a large facility that has more than one break area, according to Consumer Reports. Usually, these businesses have a maintenance department to monitor the system and replace filters.
These filters start at the $50 mark and can go as high as $1,000.
Photo of a whole location filter by USDAgov via Flickr
This article is contributed by Momentum, a cloud communications provider.
This Earth Week, Momentum is challenging employees across the country to work from home one day to help reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption.
While many of us know the benefits of working from home, it can sometimes be hard to stay focused and resist the lures of laying on the couch. Losing the structure of a regular office can sometimes be harmful to some employees’ success, but there are a number of ways that you can be just as — if not more — productive at home as you are in the office.
Here are Momentum’s 10 best tips for increasing your productivity while working from home:
1. Define your workspace. To increase your productivity, separate working from home activities by dedicating a specific room to work. That way, when you enter the room, you know you’re going there to work. It can help change your state of mind from “I’m at home” to “I’m at work.”
2. Don’t work unshaved and in pajamas. Maintain a professional appearance, even from home. You’ll feel better and be more productive if you take a shower, have breakfast and get dressed in the morning. You’ll be more motivated to make a list of sensible tasks for the day and get started.
3. Make a daily to-do list. Writing out a list of the tasks you need to do each day will help keep you on track and reduce your desire to procrastinate. If you tend to put projects off, you may need to have your manager or supervisor give you deadlines to help you schedule out your time.
4. Communicate well and often with your colleagues. Maintain good, clear contact with the people you’re working with. Communications platforms like unified messaging, video conferencing and web collaborationcan help bridge the gap between remote work locations and the office.
5. Don’t stop working if it’s a hard day. Just like in the office, there will be times when you don’t have good ideas or just don’t feel productive. It may be tempting to do other tasks or browse the web while you’re at home, but train yourself to keep working in some way. Otherwise, you’ll never get anything done.
6. Give yourself small breaks. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you need to be locked in your home office all day. For every hour you work, give yourself a 5-minute break to clear your mind and digest what you’ve done. Then come back to your work.
7. Plan your work, if possible, around your natural schedule. Some people are most productive in the mornings; others thrive during the afternoon. If you have the flexibility, schedule your work day around your peak productivity time so you get the most done.
8. Tell your family and friends to leave you alone. Your family probably doesn’t disturb you at the office with questions they can ask you when you get home. But when your home is your office, they may not show the same restraint. Tell your family that even though you’re working from home, you may not always be available.
9. Make time for some human interaction. Don’t make all of your work connections through email. It’s more valuable for your career and your mental well-being to have some real conversations with coworkers, even if it’s just over the phone.
10. “Leave” at the end of the day. The majority of people go home to get away from work. When work is in your home, it’s important to set defined times when you’re going to work, and when the time passes, stop. If you don’t rest at the end of the day, you can throw off your work-life balance.
Are you ready to telecommute but need to get your boss on board? Download our free remote work policy template to help get the conversation started.
Guest Author Progressive Tech: Client care and satisfaction, quality service, honesty, reliability, environmental care and responsibility are the pillars on which Progressive Tech is built. 6319 Roosevelt Way NE Seattle, WA 98115 or 206-525-8324.
Progressive Tech is a company based in Seattle, WA, that specializes in both computer repair and tech support. If you have a problem with your desktop, laptop, or Apple device, Progressive Tech is knowledgeable and experienced and can get your device up and running again. One of the reasons they are so good at this is because they continually seek to be a green and sustainable business, both through their services and their “Re-use-Recycle” attitude. Rather than offering the latest and greatest gadget, they want to help you resolve your current tech situation and get you moving again with as little impact on the environment as possible.
If you are looking for a new computer, Progressive Tech is not your shop. They offer a wide variety of services, such as computer repair, data recovery from damaged or inoperative drives, and consulting expertise for questions, but their shelves are empty of new products. The common phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can be reversed to teach us “If it is broke, fix it.” Progressive Tech has taken this to heart as a business model. Most of the time, electronics that are broken can be fixed. If they can’t, the vast majority of their parts can be salvaged and recycled.
Even outside of the services they provide to customers, Progressive Tech demonstrates their commitment to maintaining a green and sustainable business. Their store operates entirely on renewable sources, such as wind, solar, and hydroelectric power. All of the building renovations that have been performed in their shop have been eco-friendly, including using non-toxic plants, natural wood flooring, and natural fiber carpeting. They implement their green policies on a daily basis by using natural, recycled, and proven environmentally-friendly cleaning products, garbage bags, paper goods, and soaps. Even their vehicles are environmentally friendly, with each company-owned car operating entirely on domestically produced, renewable biodiesel fuel.
The services offered by Progressive Tech take these ideals to an even higher level. When you bring a broken electronic to their store, their first attempt is to fix it. According to the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, more than 50% of computers that are thrown away are either still in working condition or could be made to work with minimal repairs. Rather than immediately discarding your device, bring it in and let an expert try to fix it, saving you money while simultaneously easing the damage to the environment caused by pollution and landfills.
If, for whatever reason, you need to replace your current working machine, Progressive Tech has teamed up with a non-profit organization, InterConnection, and can help you get your machine to professionals who will use it to provide world-wide IT training. Donating a working computer can give your machine a second life. InterConnection and Progressive Tech agree that wherever possible, reusing is even better than recycling.
If a computer cannot be repaired, Progressive Tech’s next favorite option is to salvage parts. Usually, when a computer goes bad, the problem lies with a single or handful of parts. The rest of the machine is in good condition and can be used as replacement parts for other computers. With the parts that can’t be salvaged, raw materials such as steel and plastic can be harvested and reused. Only in extreme circumstances does the shop throw something away, and then they do so in the least environmentally damaging method possible.
Similar to their relationship with InterConnection, if you have other electronics that you want to get rid of, Progressive Tech works closely with Total Reclaim Inc., which specializes in environmentally friendly methods of electronic waste disposal. This allows Progressive Tech to help you recycle TV’s, microwaves, batteries, and light bulbs, among other things.
Progressive Tech is a rarity in the electronics industry. Companies producing the various devices available to consumers are very concerned with developing the latest and greatest, but they seldom take time to manage the waste that is produced by these replacement techniques. Progressive Tech does the opposite by taking what consumers already have and attempting to prolong the electronics’ life. They work diligently and consistently to maintain their green and sustainable business and encourage their clientele to do likewise by looking to first fix, then reuse, then recycle.