Survey Says: It’s Not Easy Being Green In This Economy

The Society of Human Resources (“SHRM”), has released a new poll which surveyed 368 HR professionals about the green initiatives at their workplaces. The poll reveals that. by far, the cost is the greatest barrier to starting and maintaining a green program. Ninety percent of those polled said that cost was a barrier to establishing a program, while 84% said that cost was a barrier to keeping a program going.

3d man goes green

The poll also found that the following elements were most likely to be included in a green initiative:

· A recycling program for office products (88%)

· Encouraging employees to be more environmentally friendly by encouraging double-sided copies, lowering blinds, etc. (84%)

· Using energy efficient equipment and lighting systems (73%)


The poll next asked about the major reasons or drivers for going green. The top reasons given were:

· Contributions to society (64%)

· Environmental considerations (55%)

· Economic considerations (53%)


The poll also explored how companies demonstrated their commitment to going green. The top 2 reasons were:

· Including the efforts in company newsletters and publications (74%); and

· Making environmental responsibility a stated goal of the company (45%).


Finally, the Poll sought to measure the perceived benefits of going green at work. Those surveyed gave the following as the most likely:

· Improved employee morale (46%); and

· Stronger public image (41%).


A PDF version of the PowerPoint slides are linked here: 

Going Green Using Direct Deposit

Going green at work has been a slow-going process for me.  At home, I have built a composter, installed a rain barrel, banished incandescent light bulbs, started using organic lawn fertilizer, and began recycling almost everything I can (reducing our trash by about 50 percent).  At work, though, going green is a journey taken in baby stepsrecycle

One idea I had not considered is the positive environmental impact of direct deposit.  That’s right, direct deposit. According to a recent study by the PayItGreenAlliance, the elimination of every paper check will yield a real environmental impact. It claims that each employee switching to direct deposit will:

– Save one pound of paper.
– Eliminate the release of four gallons of wastewater.
– Eliminate the release of one pound of greenhouse gases (equivalent to:  not driving four miles and half a square food of forest preserved for 10 years).
– Save a business $176.55.

If every employee with access to direct deposit began using it, the country would:

– Save 11,082,971 pounds of paper.
– Avoid the release of 105,709,380 gallons of wastewater.
– Save 4,105,889 gallons of gas.
– Avoid the release of 31,581,675 pounds of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.  Equivalent to: 112,329,703 miles not driven; 1,345,379 trees planted (and grown for 10 years) and 13,756,978 square feet of forest preserved.

These stats further prove that small changes by all of us can have a real impact on the environment, as well as help the bottom line.

Going Green at Work: New Year Resolution #4

Want to go green in the office for 2009?  Sure you do!  It’s one of our new year’s resolutions, remember?  Well, there’s no time like the present.  Going green at work doesn’t require a company-wide initiative–there’s plenty that can be done at the individual level that can have real impact.  Of course, the more, the merrier.  So get some friends to join you in your eco-friendly endeavors.  Here are just a few ways you can make the move towards a greener office today.  image

Curb Your Paper Consumption

The average U.S. office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year.  (If that’s the average across all industries, I dread to think how much the average law firm employee uses.)

An easy and effective way to reduce the amount of paper used in your office is to get into the habit of printing on both sides of the page.  Our printer will print double-sided easily, so we print just about all of our documents this way.  (An added bonus is the fact that our binders are half as small as they used to be!) 
Also, print in draft mode whenever possible. The ink you save will save the company money, as well as help reduce its carbon footprint. By purchasing remanufactured ink cartridges, you can contribute significantly.  According to Office Depot, for each remanufactured ink cartridge used, approximately 2.5 pounds of metal and plastic are kept out of landfills and about a half a gallon of oil is conserved.

Going Green at Work: Baby Steps

How employers and employees can make their workplace more environment-friendly is one of my favorite employment topics.  One of my favorite movies is “What About Bob?” starring Bill Murray and Richard Dreyfus.  In the move, Murray is absolutely hilarious as Bob Wiley, a neurotic and manipulative patient of Doctor Leo Marvin, an egotistical psychiatrist played by Dreyfus.  The hilarity begins when Bob tracks down Dr. Marvin and his family on vacation using “baby steps,” the buzz phrase from Marvin’s new book of techniques for treating mental patients and their phobias.

What’s this got to do with going green at work? It may be a way to really get started. I stumbled upon a post in the blog,,  which advocates for just such an approach. 

Just what are the “baby steps” for going green at work?

Turn Off the Lights. Commercial buildings account for 18 percent of the nation’s greenhouse-gas emissions. A good portion of the problem is caused by leaving lights on in vacant rooms. Switch off the lights whenever you leave your workspace empty for more than 15 minutes, and especially when you leave for the day.

Turn Off Your Computer.  Each computer left on at all times results in more than 1,000 extra pounds of greenhouse gases each year. At a minimum, consider using the sleep mode. The widespread use of sleep mode could prevent the annual release of hundreds of millions of tons of global warming.

Print Fewer Copies. The average American office worker uses 10,000 pages of copy paper. If you must print, do it on both sides of the page and reuse paper that’s only been printed on one side.

Turn Off Your Gadgets. If you use printers, scanners, and copiers only on an occasional basis, turn them off until you need them. Use a power strip to turn off your cell phone charger, lamp, and such when you’re not using them.

Ditch the Styrofoam. Stock your lunchroom, stock it with reusable mugs and kitchenware.  Oh, and get rid of the plastic stirrers. It’s estimated that 138 billion of them wind up in the trash each year.

Control the Thermostat.  This is a tough one. As previously debated on the Delaware Employment Law Blog, the office thermostat is a place of great conflict.  But it is also a great place to save energy since heating and cooling systems suck up about 22 percent of energy used in the commercial sector.

Earth Day: A Green Workplace

Employers, today is Earth Day. It would be hard not to notice. It seems that every media outlet is “going green.” NBC, for example has an entire website on the topic of environmental friendly options. The latest issue of Time magazine cover reads, “How to Win the War on Global Warming.”

While the green movement has certainly taken center stage in the popular press, has your workplace started to change? Are you or your coworkers stuck in a “why bother” mood? I suggest that you read Michael Pollan’s article, which asks the same question, “Why Bother?” Pollan’s article was featured in this past Sunday’s New York Time magazine, which, by the way, was titled, “The Green Issue.” Pollan tries to answer just that question. In the article, he addresses why we should all look for and make small changes, even if the environmental problems facing us and our planet seem so incredibly large. He argues, among other things, that one of the best reasons for each of us to change is that we will influence others to make similar changes which together can truly make a difference.

In honor of Earth Day, I added a small gizmo on my shower which cuts off the water when it gets warm. The device, called Evolve, was needed to combat my family’s habit of starting the shower running and then leaving the bathroom, allowing gallons of water to go wasted down the drain. I know that there are other ways to address the situation, including simply putting our hand under the water, but this approach will prevent me from becoming the shower police.

While this is just the latest effort I have taken at home, I still remain, as I have said before, a “paler shade of green” at work. Earth Day has gotten me thinking as to how to get changes started in the office. While I can replace my Styrofoam cup with a ceramic one, how can I get others to go along? Well according to Pollan, they might just do it because I did it.

That sounds ok but there must be more, right? Another way might be to get co-workers to start brainstorming on ideas to green up our workplace. I am very impressed by the list developed by the Employees of the State of Kentucky with their list of Earth Day Suggestions for Office Workers.

I would appreciate your ideas.

Delaware Earth Day Events: Employers, Make Earth Day Events Team Events

Make Earth Day a Team Event

Delaware employers, you can celebrate Earth Day today by passing along the following list of State-wide activities to your employees. Or, for the innovative employer, why not turn one of the many environmentally friendly activities into a (voluntary) corporate outing. It’s a great opportunity for a little team building and a chance to feel good about giving back. Plus, it’s a beautiful day in the First State today, so get outside while you can!

Here in Delaware, Delaware State Parks, along with the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DENREC) will celebrate Earth Day 2008 with events throughout Delaware. Residents of the First State can do their part to help conserve Delaware’s precious resources by participating in any one of the nearly 20 activities happening across the State this week. There are events in New Castle County at Bellevue State Park in Wilmington, Brandywine Creek State Park, also in Wilmington, and White Clary Creek State Park in Newark, as well as at the Brandywine Zoo. Kent Count and Sussex County have events at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware, Delaware Seashore State Park in Rehoboth Beach and Killens Pond in Felton.

Another helpful resources for Delaware employers looking to “go green” is the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) website, which has a page for Earth Day At Work. The EPA identifies workplace-specific suggestions for being more engery efficient, managing electronic equipment replacement, and other tips to help protect the environment.

Going Green at Work

Over the last year, I have been trying to “go green.” I switched to Compact Fluorescent (CFL) light bulbs, recycle most everything I can, and started using cotton shopping bags. Heck, I even constructed a yard waste composter!

Once I get to work, however, I am far paler shade of green. I use Styrofoam cups for my coffee, print out every draft motion or brief, and leave my computer on 24/7.

With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, I have been thinking about ways to change some habits at the office. has the following 10 tips on greening the office here. The Sierra Club has a top 10 list here. has a list of 10 ways to save paper at work here.

Have you thought about or started a green office program for your office?