Tuesday, January 1, 2008

If It's Yellow, Let It Mellow...

One of the most pressing issues that the United States and the rest of the world are going to have to face in the not so distant future is a shortage of clean water. We tend to think (especially us Americans) that we will always have access to clean water, both to drink and to use for things like bathing, watering the lawn and washing the cars.

However, if this past summer is any indication - remember the news story regarding a town in Tennessee where the mayor limited water supply to just several hours per day - it looks like we're going to have to deal with this issue much sooner than many of us had anticipated.

Now, before I get too far into a suggestion on a simple way for us to conserve water, I just want to take the opportunity to say that while some of you may turn your nose up to my suggestion, the Atlanta Falcons recently had to resort to this tactic for one of their home games during their recent drought.

So without further ado, here's the tip:

If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down.

In less Dr. Seussian like terms, essentially I'm saying if you go number one, don't flush, but if you go number two flush.

In an attempt to get away from the subject at hand, let's look at some math to see how much water can actually be saved by implementing this idea.

Toilets built before 1982 usually use between five and seven gallons of water per flush, while newer toilets are required to use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. For the sake of argument, let's assume that most toilets in the U.S. are newer, and that the "average toilet" uses roughly 2 gallons per flush.

From personal experience, I'd be willing to bet that the average person goes to the bathroom about six times per day; five times to go number one, and another time to go number two. Obviously, this is going to vary from person to person, but let's just stick with this guestimate.

So, if we followed the "if it's yellow, let it mellow - if it's brown, flush it down" mantra, the "average" person could save about 10 gallons of water per day. Multiply that by 300 million people in the United States, and that's over 3 billion gallons of water saved each day. Over a year, that's over 1 trillion gallons of water.

Even if you're dealing with the most abundant natural resource on the planet, that's a lot of water saved with very little effort.

Waste Less Around the Office

One of the places where we're most likely to be unnecessarily wasteful is around the office. Think about it: how many crumpled up pieced of paper have you thrown away rather than recycle, simply because your trash can was closer than the recycling bin?

Obviously, the wastefulness doesn't end with paper. Leaving your computer on over night, leaving lights on in unused common areas, etc., really does add up, hurting both the environment as well as your company's bottom line.

The following article, Tl Kleban, illustrates many things you can do to help reduce your waste in the workplace:

If you get a moment, offer to take the trash from the office out to the dumpster and take a look at how much is wasted material. I bet you didn’t realize how much recyclable garbage is just thrown away by the people you work with at the office nearly everyday. It’s up to you to educate the company and your fellow employees about recycling and the office can easily and effectively change the way it operates.

Unfortunately, you and your coworkers are just too busy to notice the waste or consider the impact of your inefficient actions. It’s up to you to show how going green is even easier than they can imagine and gaining in popularity with the bosses since it will immediately save money. Here are just some of the ways your office can being working in an environmentally friendly way.

  • Make it the company’s monthly goal to consistently try and lower the utility bill by 2-3% or reduce the office supply expenses by about 15-20%. By lowering the waste of paper in the office, you not only save money but also some beautiful trees. Make it a company goal to waste less.
  • Come up with some type of a corporate green policy for the company. All it takes is one person to make a difference so think of all the good it would do if everyone followed your lead. Give it out to all employees and even some customers.
  • Speaking of office supplies, what better way to save some trees that buying recycled if and when possible. Almost everything needed to run a small office can now be purchased from recycled products. Items such as toner cartridges, paper goods, and plastics are available in recycled form and costs much less too.
  • Whenever office items such as any lights, computers or appliances like the coffee pot are not in use, turn them off and unplug them. When it is time to purchase a new piece of equipment for the office, shop around for Energy Star models to be sure you are getting something environmentally friendly.
  • Try not to drive as much. If you’re out on the road running a few errands, try to get everything done while you are already out and about. Finish off the errand or make a delivery but then on your way home, stop at the store for any items you may need at the office. If your office is close enough, walk to the store instead of driving. Set up a carpool for any employees who live close to one another.
  • Go through the office or at least have maintenance go through and replace all of the incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones which use less energy and last longer.
  • Instead of just throwing away misprints or unneeded printed pages, use them as scratch paper around the office or as packing materials if your company does any shipping. You can always have your office go 21st century and paperless by doing everything electronically instead of printing.
  • Buy supplies from companies who already have green policies in practice. From your supply company to your shipping couriers, every little bit will help. Don’t be afraid to ask a company about their green policies. Many will be proud of what they have in place.

For further stories like this be sure to check the countless cheap magazines available for purchase at Magsforless at www.magsforless.com They sell over 75 different magazine subscriptions with hundreds of other subjects to choose from.

Truth be told, these are pretty simple steps and wouldn't be hard to implement. Why don't you make it one of your New Year's resolutions to try some of these out?

Mother Nature will thank you for it!