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It’s a cold Thursday morning here in Northwest Ohio. As I write this, the snow is coming down and we had a winter weather advisory last night. (Thankfully, we didn’t get as much as predicted…we rarely do!) While it’s technically spring now, you wouldn’t know it by the temperatures until early to mid-April around here. But that doesn’t stop us from preparing for the warmer weather and attempting to break free from our cabin fever.
As the weather breaks and you begin to get out and about more, it’s a great time to think about how you can personally live with the intention to be more environmentally conscious this year. Below are a few examples of changes you might consider.
Take Fewer Road Trips
We’re very fortunate at Lyon Software that because of the nature of our work, we’ve been able to remain a work-from-home company since 2020. Because of this, we’ve been able to significantly reduce the amount of pollution we’re putting out through our vehicles. It’s also helped us to cut out a lot of unnecessary spending.
Not everyone has this opportunity to work from home though, and I get that. Especially our amazing clients in the healthcare field who are at their hospitals every day caring for their communities. While you may not be able to work from home, you can reduce some of your drive time.
One practice I have done for years (well before the pandemic) is to batch my trips. If I have to be on the far end of town for an appointment, I’ll make sure to make additional stops with it. Even if it means waiting a week or two. No sense in driving across town twice!
Last year in my neighborhood, there was a house that didn’t cut their grass for the entire month of May. They called it “No Mowing May”. They even had a sign in their yard that they were observing this to allow bees to pollinate the flowers. As you can imagine at the height of growing season, their lawn was a disaster from an appearance perspective. It was refreshing to see someone who wasn’t worried about what others thought about that.
This was their way of encouraging positive growth in the animal kingdom. Maybe you’re like me, and aren’t ready to commit at that level. That’s OK. Instead of skipping for a month, we can commit to one mow per week from April to July, then shift to once every other week from August to November.
Donate Your Old Clothes
One popular springtime activity that you may be doing soon is going through your closet and updating your wardrobe. Whatever clothing is still usable, make sure you donate it instead of throwing it away. Whether you’re taking it to Goodwill, Salvation Army, or giving it to a friend, giving your clothes a second life is always a great, environmentally conscious idea.
Set Up an eBay Account
I’ve written about this before, but selling on eBay is a great way to live sustainably by giving your items a second home. It’s also a great way to boost the economy, since you’re earning extra coin and spending with a shipping service. You’re also keeping old items out of the landfill.
If you’ve never done this, you would be amazed at what will sell on Ebay or Facebook Marketplace. When I first started at Lyon Software, we had 15 old multi-line phones sitting in a cabinet that could have easily been thrown away. I offered to sell them on eBay. A week later, I shipped them off to their new owner after receiving a bid of $287.
What Will You Do?
This is a fairly surface level overview of a few simple ideas for living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle this year. I hope this gives you some motivation to participate. I’d love to hear what else you would add.
Please leave a comment letting all of our readers know what you plan to do to be more sustainable this spring. I look forward to reading about it!
October is International Campus Sustainability Month. Last year, I wrote about my memories of BGSU Can Recycle – the campus environmental awareness program at Bowling Green State University in the late 1990s. That was my first real exposure to the sustainability movement.
This year, I’m attending the Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education (GCSHE) to learn about the sustainability practices of colleges and universities across the country. It marks the 6th consecutive year that Lyon Software will be a participating exhibitor at this conference, which is hosted by AASHE (The Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education). GCSHE is once again in a virtual setting, and this year, has attracted over 2,000 attendees from all around the world.
One of the reasons we enjoy this conference so much is the ability to learn what new developments are happening in the area of campus & corporate sustainability. It’s also inspiring to see so many students working to advance the green initiative on their home campus.
The Urgency of Now
This year’s theme is The Urgency of Now. Every session has done a terrific job of capturing the spirit of the theme. Each presenter has focused on the changing physical and social landscape, and how important it is for all of us to come together for a better future – and sooner rather than later.
We began with a spirited keynote address from Tyson Yunkaporta on October 18th. He talked quite a bit about the changing landscape of the world, and how university and campus life fits into that. Then yesterday, Kumi Naidoo gave an inspiring talk about the need for going beyond the solo approach and working together for a better world. GCSHE wraps up on Thursday, November 3rd.
A Great Way to Connect
It’s been over 20 years since I left campus as a college graduate, so for me, this conference is a wonderful way to interact with students and faculty about an emerging topic. It’s amazing to learn about all the great work that is happening on campuses all over the world to advance environmental sustainability initiatives.
My favorite part of the conference is getting to interact with so many of the attendees online. Face-to-face isn’t my game, but I can keyboard warrior with the best of them. I find that people are much more interested in what you have to say when they can respond at their own pace. It allows us all to be more thoughtful in our communication.
Make Plans to Attend Next Year
If you’re considering attending a sustainability conference to learn about the best practices currently happening in a higher education setting, I strongly recommend putting GCSHE on your calendar for next year. It will likely be in October and continue in a virtual format. If you do decide to attend due to reading this blog post, be sure to stop by and say hi to me. I’m sure Lyon Software will be back in 2023.
Quick Question: Will you plan to attend the Global Conference for Sustainability in Higher Education in 2023?
Let me know in the comments below.
Living sustainably on an individual basis may seem as simple as drinking from a refillable water container, refusing plastic grocery bags, and recycling. However, many people miss out on a major and necessary area of sustainability, which is what they wear.
According to the EPA, textiles, such as clothing, shoes, bags, bedding and more, accounted for 14.4 million tons of total municipal solid waste in 2017, which equates to around 70 lbs per person in the US. These numbers do not need to be so high, but the reality of the matter is that consumerism and fast-fashion are so common that they have been conditioned into the minds of millions.
Thankfully, there are several approaches that can be taken to help decrease the amount of needless textile waste that ends up being added to landfills or incinerated.
Buying less is the most impactful and obvious thing that can be done to decrease textile waste. This can be accomplished by repairing old clothing vs throwing it away, avoiding purchases based on trends, and putting together custom capsule wardrobes. A capsule wardrobe is centered around a few staple, versatile articles of clothing, shoes, and accessories that pair well with each other, and can be easily mixed and matched to create multiple outfits that suit the style and needs of the wearer. Taking the time to create an individualized capsule wardrobe deters people from submitting to the temptations of fast-fashion, as well as simplifies the process of getting ready for the day.
Guide on how to get started with a capsule wardrobe here: https://importantenough.com/how-to-create-the-perfect-capsule-wardrobe/
The best thing to do when in need of additional clothing is to try to find items you need second-hand from a yard sale, thrift shop, or online marketplace. Buying second-hand can easily save you money, while also saving on textile waste.
When buying second-hand is not an option, choosing clothing made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, hemp, linen, bamboo, recycled cloth, etc., or choosing clothing from brands that are transparent about their production processes still helps to make up for some of the negative environmental impact brought on by introducing more products into existence.
Go the extra mile
One extra step that can be taken to minimize harm to the planet is to purchase a filter to help catch some of the synthetic microfibers that come off of clothing while washing, preventing them from entering and polluting the water system. This step may not fit the budget of all sustainability warriors, but another alternative to installing a filter is tossing your clothes in a filtration bag while washing, or adding a specially designed laundry ball that helps catch some of the microfibers that would otherwise be washed away.
Versions of these items can be found here: https://eluxemagazine.com/living/tech/5-great-microfiber-filters-to-help-stop-microplastic-pollution/
When considering living a sustainable lifestyle, the first thing that comes to mind may be the decisions you make at home and in your free-time. This makes sense considering that is when and where you have the most control, but the average person actually spends around one third of their lifetime at their job. With this apparent, sustainability practices in the workplace should be considered equally important as they are at home or in public.
Tips on how to have a Less Wasteful Workplace Kitchen
1. Instead of plastic bags, use reusable containers that seal such as silicone zip-bags, glass containers, or reusable plastic containers. Your office will want to have a few extra that people can borrow to take home leftovers in case they forget their own.
2. Instead of plasticware and disposable dining products, consider using reusable silverware, plates, bowls, etc.
3. If your office serves coffee, consider using a coffee a pot and washable mugs instead of disposable foam cups. Or, if using a Keurig (single use) coffee maker, use a reusable pod and ground coffee instead of single-use disposable pods.
4. If your office takes trips to the grocery store to stock snacks, beverages, or condiments be sure to bring reusable grocery bags with you to avoid needing to use disposable plastic bags.
At Lyon Software, we set up recycling bins for containers, cardboard, and paper, all labeled with details on which items are acceptable to go in. Once the bins fill up, we take them to one of our storage rooms, where we keep larger sorted bins to dump our smaller office bins into to collect the recycling until the time comes to take it to the recycling center- We try to make it very simple and efficient to encourage more people to participate in recycling, and have had great success!
Utilizing Natural Light
Instead of keeping the lights on in your office or work area all day, try to make a habit of flipping the lights off whenever you leave your area (going to complete a task in another area, going to the restroom, going to have lunch, etc.), or on bright days, you might not need extra light if you have a window in your work area, so consider working without extra lights on.
How to be Less Wasteful when Ordering and Shipping
1. Request sustainable packaging from Amazon if purchasing with them- you can do so by contacting their customer services via email or phone. You can also check with any shipping company or supplier you use to see if they have sustainable shipping alternatives and utilize them when applicable.
2. If you need to ship from your office, consider using more sustainable methods such as minimizing the amount of paper mail sent by digitizing what is sent, using recycled paper, and choosing envelopes without plastic windows.