When you eat in a restaurant, do you notice busboys cleaning the table by using a spray of chemical cleaners? And the mist doesn’t go away at once, it floats in the air and lands right smack on your table or your food when it is served. Not green.
To be green, cleaning supplies should have the following description on their packaging: nontoxic, renewable, plant-based ingredients, chorlorin- (question: did you mean chlorine?) and ammonia-free, nonaerosol, biodegradable, phosphate-free, no animal ingredients, cruelty-free, hypoallergenic and recycled or recyclable packaging. That leaves us with soap (not petroleum-based detergent) and water.
My own cleaning material at home is citrus-peel (lemons, oranges, dalanghita, calamansi and/or dayap fermented in vinegar for two weeks in a glass container. The juice is good for all kinds of surfaces and there is no need to rinse after application. Throw away the used citrus peel and store the juice in a dry clean place. Try it on your old, ugly monoblocs and see them become clean and clear again. Useful for home and office.
Other low-hanging fruits to create a healthy, environmentally sound and cost-effective workplace: Start a green team at work to go after changes that cost nothing or little and even save money for your company.
Get in touch with your utility provider (Meralco, Maynilad, Manila Water, etc.) and ask them to do energy audit for your business—at a nominal cost. Then implement their recommended changes that help the bottomline. I am sure there will be savings here, plus you’ll get that sense of safety and security knowing that your utility systems are in tip-top condition.
Adjust the thermostat of your cooling system to simply provide a comfortable and optimum temperature for the people and machine in your workplace. Be sure to unplug all electrical and water connections after work hours.
Of course, switch to LED bulbs—the payback comes in a couple of months and lots of energy savings afterward.
Cut paper costs by asking employees to print double-sided pages. Switch to 30 percent post-consumer recycled paper in all copiers.
Choose the lowest energy setting for your computers and other electronic devices. Completely power down all computers, printers, fax machines, scanners, shredders and other work gadgets after office hours. This will also give your devices rest to reduce heat and mechanical stress. Assign one cleanup crew to make sure this is done.
Reset computers so that they go into sleep mode after five minutes of inactivity. Avoid screensavers, which are energy wasters.
Better yet, use laptops. Laptops require smaller workspace and use half or less energy than desktops. They are also portable and could easily be brought to meetings or to where you need to work next.
Start a share-a-ride program. Give special parking privileges for people who carpool.
Use refillable pens and mechanical pencils. Disposable plastic pens are neither recyclable nor biodegradable.
The regular pencils require trees to be felled for their casing.
Reuse rubber bands until they break or just stop using them. Most rubber bands nowadays are synthetic and are made from crude oil. When incinerated, they emit toxic fumes into the air.
Donate old, but in working condition, telephone sets, cell phones, computers, printers and other electronic devices and equipment to public schools and nonprofit organizations. Or you can sell them to your employees. You can also do this for your furniture and fixtures and others when it is time for you to change your physical work environment.
Keep used envelopes, bubble wrap, packing materials, boxes and others for reuse. If there are just too many of them already, send out for recycling and earn from that.
There are many more ways to green your workplace, save money, or even earn from such efforts. Abangan, or send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org