Archive for April, 2010

Go Green & Save Green!

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

No doubt by now you’re tuned in to the not-so-new trend toward being eco-conscious, and you can list many of the benefits of leading a more environmentally responsible life. You know what a carbon footprint is, and have probably taken steps to reduce yours through changes in your daily routine. Maybe you even drive a hybrid car now, or power your home with solar panels.

While most of us have made changes toward greater sustainability in our home lives, there is still an important area often being neglected: the workplace. And what’s more, did you know that many office “greening” projects can actually end up reducing your expenses?!

Compiled below are some great ideas that are easy to implement at the office. We’ve instituted many of these at Stock Stephens LLP and have seen the benefits in measurable quantities. Following the list are links to some great resources to help you in your quest to go green!

Opt in for online statements. Request from your vendors, banking institution(s), credit card companies, etc. that they discontinue paper statements and invoicing on your account(s); most companies now have an online and/or email option available for those wishing to go paperless. Worried you’ll miss a due date without the bill coming in the mail? With most institutions, you can choose to or will automatically receive an email reminder when your statement or invoice is ready.

Pay bills online. Many companies have options for paying online or over the phone with a credit card or virtual check from your bank. Not only does this save you time and dramatically reduce your use of expensive paper checks, but you also save on postage since there’s nothing to mail!

Buy green supplies. With environmental conscientiousness and sustainability figuring heavily in everyone’s lives these days, you’ll be hard pressed to find an office supply company that doesn’t have an array of green products to choose from. Companies like Staples and Quill, and even smaller local companies like Coastline Office Supply now offer green cleaning supplies, recycled paper, even pens made from recycled materials; and they’ve become widespread enough now that the prices aren’t necessarily higher than their not-so-sustainable counterparts.

Update your lighting. While it may be difficult if you lease space in a larger office building, do your best to replace old lighting with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) wherever possible. According to EnergyStar.gov, “Energy Star qualified CFLs use up to 75 percent less energy (electricity) than incandescent light bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with an Energy Star qualified CFL, in one year it would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes. That would prevent the release of greenhouse gas emissions equal to that of about 800,000 cars.” This is especially important for those of us living here in southern California, where the energy crisis has directly impacted our lives in recent years with rolling blackouts. Remember also to turn lights off in areas not being used.

Reduce… There are many ways to reduce your consumption in the workplace. Make the shift to running a paperless office, including communicating with vendors, clients, colleagues and others electronically instead of through the mail or by fax (again saving paper and, in the case of mail, postage). Another expense-saving habit is to use your printer’s “econo”, “toner-save” or “draft” mode whenever possible to reduce your ink and toner consumption. If you have a kitchen or break room, have cloth towels instead of (or in addition to) paper ones, and real utensils, plates, cups, etc. to avoid using and throwing away so many non-biodegradable disposables.

Reuse… One of the simple changes we implemented in our office is re-using paper in-house. That is to say, we collect “scratch paper” that has been printed on one side only, and use the blank sides to print all of our draft copy, online research that we need hard copies of, etc. Once both sides are used and the printed matter no longer needed, then the pages are shredded or tossed in the recycling. On average we now purchase roughly 40% less paper each month, which is beneficial to both the environment and our bottom line. In addition, we save on sticky notes by cutting up scratch paper and old one-sided forms and appointment calendars into small scraps for quick notes and reminders.

Recycle… Many office buildings participate in citywide recycling programs, and work in conjunction with the building’s janitorial service. If your building doesn’t have a recycling program, look into the possibility of establishing one. Alternatively, you can set up a rotation in the office for people to take recyclables to local drop sites located throughout the county. Find one near you here:
http://www.sandiego.gov/environmental-services/recycling/centers.shtml

Travel green. Organize carpools for the daily commute, and/or encourage using public transportation. This benefits the environment, and also cuts down on everyone’s individual auto maintenance and gas costs. Our office has even used a monthly stipend equal to the cost of a transit pass (currently $72) to encourage staff to drive less often.

Educate one another. When you gain new information or have tips of your own, share them with your colleagues the way you do with family and friends. If possible, have a communal bulletin board where helpful information is posted, such as where to buy locally grown foods…
http://www.sdfarmbureau.org/BuyLocal/Farmers-Markets.php

…or why it’s so important to use reusable bags for shopping…
http://www.zerowastesandiego.org/pdf/prc_factsheet.pdf
http://keepcaliforniabeautiful.com/pdf/Got_Your_Bags_Tip_Sheet.pdf

Another great method is to simply email fellow staff when you come across helpful articles, good causes, or organizations that need your help.

The bottom line is, if you haven’t started implementing some or all of these sustainability strategies and the many others that are out there, now is the time! No more creating needless waste… no more needlessly wasting money. Help the environment, cut your costs, and increase employee attitude and cooperation through a collective effort toward greater environmental responsibility!

Check out the following links for more information, great money-saving options, and fantastic resources for achieving a more natural, more sustainable future.

> www.gogreenbook.org
> www.newleafpaper.com
> www.sustainabletable.org/shop/eatseasonal
> www.keepcaliforniabeautiful.com
> energycenter.org
> www.energystar.gov
> www.sandiegonaturalguide.com

Get This Party Started

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

In recent years, business strategy has shifted from a focus on advertising and marketing to an emphasis on networking. Establishing personal relationships is now the fashionable key to securing new business and building a recognizable and respected brand.

For the not-so-gregarious or even shy types, however, the prospect of attending networking groups and mixers can be daunting. Even for the most seasoned minglers, sometimes at networking events it’s hard to break the ice or approach strangers randomly to start a conversation. If you get stuck or feel like you are just not in the mood, try this: look around the room and “notice” someone. Whether they jump out at you because they have a great hair cut, a nice smile, a handsome suit, a distinguished air, whatever it may be. Once you’ve noticed it, walk up to that person and tell them what you noticed that you liked. “That’s a really great jacket.” Invariably, they say “Thank you” and you can ask the natural follow-up questions like “where did you get it?” Once you’ve opened the door and put them at ease, simply introduce yourself. You’ve made a new connection with a potential client, colleague, or service provider, and they’re first impression of you is a positive one.

Be brave and give it a try the next time you’re cringing in the corner or hovering over the hors d’oeuvres. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your networking skills will improve, and you’ve made the world a better place by paying a compliment.