Being green can begin at the office

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Imagine a future where massive flooding displaces 100 million people, insect swarms devastate crops and enormous forest fires rip through the landscape.

It sounds a like the plot of a science fiction movie, but a number of reports say that if humans continue ravaging the planet, and climate change continues unchecked then that may become Earth’s future.

The reports say that climate change is here, it’s happening and it’s because of human actions, Shannon Clohosey told a crowd gathered at the MacBride Museum of Yukon History last week for the second of four talks in this winter’s Climate Change Lecture Series.

“I don’t think being paralyzed by fear is very productive,” said Clohosey. “We can all do our part to stop climate change.”

For Clohosey, who works with the Yukon Federal Council (part of the Canadian government), doing her part extends to the choices she makes at her workplace.

“We spend a lot of time at work,” she said. “Some people see their coworkers more than they see their families.”

Though many people recycle and compost at home, Clohosey is trying to get people to bring that mindset to the office.

And she is not alone, according to a poll by Monster.ca where 78 per cent of respondents say that they would leave their present workplace for one that was more environmentally conscious.

“It makes good business sense to think about the environment,” she said. Being green can attract workers and customers to a business, and it can save a company money in the long run.

For example, the Yukon Federal Council has purchased some electric bicycles for its employees to use as an alternative to driving a government vehicle to get to off-site meetings.

Greening the office can begin with something as simple as using fewer sheets of paper, said Clohosey. Using paper more wisely can make a big difference when all of the resources that go into creating the paper are taken into account.

Making just one box of paper, or 5,000 sheets, uses 1.3 trees, 965 litres of water, 345,000 BTUs of energy, and puts 12 kilograms of waste into a landfill.

Here are some of Clohosey’s top suggestions for making a workplace more environmentally friendly:

1) Buy office paper with a high percentage of recycled content.

2) Print on both sides of a piece of paper.

3) Use whiteboards instead of flipcharts.

4) Only buy what is necessary.

5) Save energy by plugging electronics into a power bar and then unplug the power bar at the end of each day. Then the electronics won’t be sucking energy while they’re not working.

6) Use refillable ink cartridges for pens and printers.

7) Set computer screen savers to black so they do not waste energy while the computer is not being used.

8) When ordering catering employ a business that does not use disposable cups or plates.

9) Form a sustainability team and create short and long-term goals for the company.

This talk and the entire Climate Change Lecture Series is presented in partnership with the Northern Climate ExChange.

The series continues this Wednesday with a talk by Ryan Hennessey of the Yukon Climate ExChange on Community-based Climate Change Adaptation Planning in the Yukon.

All talks in the series are free and begin at 7 p.m. at the MacBride Museum at 1124 First Avenue.

This column is provided by the MacBride Museum of Yukon History. Each week it will explore a different morsel of Yukon’s modern history. For more information, or to comment on anything in this column e-mail lchalykoff@macbridemuseum.com.

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