Pedals are springing up everywhere – it’s National Bike to Work Week!
Already the commuter method of choice for people in many cities across the United States, bicycle commuting is a great way to clear your mind and feel more focused as you begin your workday. This week, May 13-17 is Bike to Work Week, providing a great opportunity to give it a try. It’s a healthy, energizing alternative to driving, and there are many designated lanes and routes to help new bicycle commuters safely and easily give it a go.
It’s also a great way to squeeze regular exercise into a hectic schedule. According to The League of American Bicyclists, a 180-pound man on a 10-mile round trip bike commute burns 400 calories, and a 130-pound woman burns 300 calories on the same commute. Imagine what that could do for the health of you and your coworkers over the course of the week!
Don’t have a bike? Try a shorter one-time commitment to bike on Friday, which is Bike to Work Day. You could have an old bike fixed up or borrow one from a friend for the day. Many cities even have bike-sharing programs.
Then, to get started on your way, check your city’s website for a map of lanes and paths to help you map your route to work.
Already a biker? Encourage your office coworkers to give it a try. The League of American Bicyclists has a handy how-to guide available here.
Here at CHOICES, we have our own dedicated bike commuters this week and in the summer season. One such commuter is Mike Ochsner, who regularly bikes to work.
“I think biking to work is a nice way to get some good exercise that fits nicely with my work schedule,” Ochsner (pictured center) said. “I am fortunate because there are good bike trails that lead to my office and virtually no traffic issues.”
For Howard Lortz and Dale Young, it’s a nice opportunity to get to know other coworker bike enthusiasts. Young (pictured left) and Lortz (pictured right) enjoy logging miles biked with coworkers after the workday ends.
“Riding to and from work is a great way to get the day started,” Young said. “And when the weather is nice, we ride as a group for about 20 miles after work.”
Lortz added, “We even have some office rides on the weekends, where we will ride 50 to 100 miles on a Saturday.”
But remember, bike safety is important. Please be sure to wear a helmet, use hand signals and ride safely! Review these Rules of the Road for other safety tips.
Get spinning! Let us know how many of you and your coworkers take advantage of this year’s Bike to Work Week or Bike to Work Day. We’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.
On the tails of our zero waste discussion last week, Waste & Recycling News reports that as more of our nation’s cities move towards zero waste policies, the traditional hauling and disposal industry is faced with a tough decision: adapt or die. Many in the industry agree that, in a world headed toward greener waste management practices, it is important for hauling companies to stay ahead of the curve. Instead of relying on high landfill volume, disposal companies should focus on providing services and technologies that allow other companies to more effectively manage their waste streams. “That is where the trend is going,” says Adam Alberti of San Francisco’s green disposal company Recology. “It’s about reuse, recycling, finding higher and better uses of a material that is discarded and moving as much as possible away from just burying in a hole.”
Greener Ideal reports that it’s necessary for education organizations to recognize the value of providing students courses that cover sustainability education. Through education, we can provide the next generation with the skills and knowledge necessary to handle the social and environmental changes occurring in the near future and build an understanding of the dependence between humans and the environment. There are four important aspects that should be considered when developing a curriculum for an effective education: sustainability for society, economy, culture and environment.
Last week, Boston became the latest city to order building energy benchmarking. The City Council approved an ordinance requiring larger commercial and residential buildings to report annual energy and water usage to the city, which in turn will make this information available to the public. It is reflective of a growing trend nationwide to increase transparency in building performance, although owners are not required to act on the resulting data. It’s hoped, however, that creating transparency around energy usage will result in market forces driving a reduction of greenhouse gasses as owners take steps to improve efficiencies and remain competitive among tenants focused on operating costs and sustainability.
HuffPost Green featured commentary on seeking sustainability in our modern age from long-time environmental and political activist Ralph Nader. There is little to debate about the impact commercial culture has had on the planet, Nader says. However, there is much to debate about how a culture of excess can be transitioned into one of more efficient restraint and responsibility. A daunting task, but examining each link in the supply chain proves that something must change. For many Americans, change can start personally and locally; consider the repercussions of one’s own consumer habits, “go local” and recycle.
One of the latest and ultimate ideals for sustainable and environmental concepts, “zero waste” is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource lifecycles so that all products are reused, and trash is diverted from landfills. There are zero waste programs and experiments running the full spectrum from the home to citywide scale.
Even large corporate retailers are declaring their intentions to reach zero-waste goals. Walmart has reduced waste in its U.S. operations by more than 80 percent due to supply chain alterations and an emphasis on recycling, repurposing and reusing materials. You can read more about the company’s efforts here.
While achieving zero waste can seem daunting, there are small steps you can take at your office to incrementally reach zero waste goals.
To begin, conduct an audit of what is coming in and what’s getting tossed out. Based on the results of your audit, seek the necessary approvals to establish a green purchasing policy. Be sure to communicate the objectives of zero waste efforts and highlight the expected positive effects (cost savings, environmental impact, convenience, etc.)
Buy planet-friendly office supplies – such as those with recycled content (like paper), biodegradable ingredients, reduced chemical content, or those that are compostable or refillable (like ink cartridges and pens).
And if your audit shows that it may not be possible at this time for your office to completely reach its zero waste goals, there are incremental goals you can set to help monitor your progress and provide exciting results that will encourage others.
Here are some tips from around the Web to help with your planning both at the office and at home.
- Compost. Separate food and kitchen waste that’s compostable into a separate container. Here’s a guide to getting started.
- Donate. Consider donating old electronics (in usable condition), home or office furniture and decorations to local charities.
- Reuse by buying second hand, swapping disposable items for reusable items and shopping using reusable packaging.
- Buy in bulk. Bring the reusable packaging and containers to local co-ops or other stores that allow you to shop in bulk. Fill them with easy bulk items like snacks, hand or dish soap, detergent or other products.
- Recycle. If you’ve successfully completed the items above, your waste stream should have decreased quite a bit already. Sort what’s left into the recycle bin and be amazed at how little is left over!
Where you can’t eliminate, get smarter. By utilizing the above options and doing a little research into issues that persist, an office can get pretty close to zero waste goals. While you may not get there right away, it’s likely your officemates or family will be impressed at the significant changes you’ve worked to make together.
If you’re interested in a zero waste program or have other sustainability goals in mind, Boise partners with iReuse to help customers plan, track and achieve measured sustainability results.
Think you’ll try it? Or, have you already set zero waste goals? Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts and tips.
Image via Sclick.net
As we continue our coverage of Earth Week, we wanted to bring you some interesting new ways to incorporate sustainability into your daily lives.
While typical activities range from volunteer tree plantings to education workshops, our shared goal of making the world a more sustainable place isn’t limited to off-screen choices.
There are now more tablet and mobile-enabled ways to get involved in Earth Day/Week/Month than ever before. We encourage you to take the week to explore some of the best new sustainability apps and how they can easily increase your participation this year.
The Four Seasons. Looking to engage your kids and help them celebrate Earth Day while learning about the environment? This interactive storybook teaches about the gifts of nature, such as “the clean scent of air, refreshing water and a green environment in the context of a beautiful children’s story set around the changing seasons.”
The Lorax. On sale for Earth Day, this app is a vivid, interactive rendition of Dr. Seuss’ classic story of greed and environmental destruction. It includes features to assist early-readers, such as professional narration, background audio, enlarged artwork and interactivity like picture-word association as the story is read. You can also buy the film version on iTunes.
iRecycle. Ever wonder where the nearest convenient recycling opportunity is located? iRecycle tells you how, where and when to recycle just about anything, with access to more than 1,500,000 ways to recycle over 350 materials. By using your current location, ZIP code or city, this free app helps you easily access details for many different area collection points.
Lyft. Currently only available in San Francisco and Los Angeles, we think this app will soon take off in many other cities around the country. Described as a “friendly, safe and affordable transportation option,” Lyft is a peer-to-peer rideshare program from Zimride. All community drivers have been “background checked and personality screened to offer the best ride experience in the city.” Available for iOS and Android devices.
If you’re looking for more traditional ways to make a difference this Earth Week, remember that recycling is one of the biggest ways to quickly make an impact. Check with your local recycling center and ask about volunteer opportunities.
Tree plantings are also a great way to get involved, get your hands dirty and see your environmental efforts literally continue to grow over time. Learn about National Neighborwoods Month, sponsored by Boise and find a way to get involved in your area.
How did you celebrate Earth Day this week? Tell us about it in the comments below, or feel free to share your experiences with any of the apps and literature mentioned above.
Every April 22 since 1970, Earth Day reminds us to do what we can to preserve the world we live in. It helps us reflect on environmental issues that both sustain and threaten our planet.
Did you know there are Earth Day celebrations held around the globe? Schoolchildren in Pakistan collected trash from Karachi’s Clifton Beach as part of an Earth Day cleaning campaign. In Manila, Filipinos in colorful costumes participated in a protest against plans to develop the Manila Bay, celebrating Earth Day simultaneously with their initiative to save the country’s coast. Here in the United States, Durham, N.C.’s Central Parks hosted a hula-hooping, face-painting Earth Day festival, celebrating the Earth with responsible revelry while families in Savannah, GA, got sustainable with the “Great Cloth Diaper Change.”
CNN gave its readers this Earth Day quiz, reporting that on average, every person in the United States created 4.43 lbs. of trash per day in 2010. That is 1,617 pounds of garbage per person each year! Extrapolating that weight to the cumulative population of the United States means over 507 billion pounds of waste are produced per year in the U.S. Recycling has never sounded more appealing.
Earth Day is a good time for many to put their relationship with the Earth into perspective, including businesses. There have been numerous studies aimed at helping business leaders to understand how businesses affect the environment and vice versa. Forbes complied an informative list of recent articles about the complex intersection of business and the environment. From how CEOs can execute higher-ambition sustainability goals to funding the design of livable cities, the list offers a gamut of conversation starters for topics relating to corporation’s environmental choices.
GreenBiz reports that according to environmental opinion data, there is a declining amount of genuine interest in environmental issues. They found that Baby Boomers are significantly more likely than Millennials to make a strong effort towards sustainable actions like recycling everything they possibly can or using reusable grocery bags as much as possible. While there is concern and conversation about issues such as energy and water conservation, preservatives and chemicals in food, global warming and VOCs, these discussions aren’t producing change. In other words, “action isn’t aligning with intent.”
So why on earth do we still need Earth Day? Casting a spotlight on the environment once a year is a pointed calendar mark set aside to engage Americans in conversation about all that needs to done in environmental efforts as well as their roles. However if we want to see a paradigm shift in our culture – if we want sustainability to become habit, it must be promoted everyday (to start, here are a few simple ways to be green for Earth Day, and Every Day). As long as Earth Day can be a celebration of an ongoing commitment to a serious integration of sustainability into an individual’s or company’s values, it will continue to help us all take an environmental step forward.