Member Articles

Write an article!

How to Save the Planet on Your Lunch Break

by Lorna Doone Brewer  |  2986 views  |  3 comments  |        Rate this now! 

As a working woman, you know that doing business requires the use of energy, water and other natural resources. Time has also become a scarce "resource" in the workplace. With meetings to attend, goals to reach and phone calls to return (not to mention the inevitable paperwork that follows each), the need to take action grows, while the time to do so shrinks.

So, how can you improve the state of the planet without giving up your job and becoming a full-time (and probably unpaid) environmental lobbyist? Here's a fool-proof method to make a difference over the course of one lunch hour:

12:00 noon: Open the lunch you've brought from home. Congratulate yourself for packing each item in a washable, reusable container. Marvel at your ability to pack an entire meal-to-go without using one plastic baggie or piece of cling wrap.

12:05: Point your web browser to and get your address removed from thousands of mailing lists designed to send you junk mail you didn't want in the first place. According to Oberlin College (Ohio), for each 100,000 people who stop their junk mail, 150,000 trees could be saved annually. They also note that the average American spends eight years of her life opening junk mail, so this step also gives you more time.

12:15: Place a folder of blank labels in one of your desk drawers. You can place these over existing addresses on manila envelopes and use them repeatedly. They might not look great, but it doesn't really matter for in-house correspondence. You can also turn manila file folders inside out for reuse, rather than throwing them away. Get started right now on any you might have tossed aside or put in the trash already this morning.

12:25: Now that you've finished your homemade lunch, it's time to wander down the hall. Don't forget to turn out the light when you leave. Many people believe that turning the light back on uses more energy than letting it burn, when in fact, that difference is made up in one second! If your organization has a community kitchen area, fill a pitcher with water and place it in the fridge. The Academy of Natural Sciences estimates that two gallons of water are wasted each time a person lets the water run to get cold.

12:30: Rummage around in the stock room, mail center or wherever empty boxes are found and neatly tape on labels designating one for used magazines and one for scratch copier paper. One ton of the coated virgin paper used for magazines uses 15 trees, according to the Oberlin recycling facts web page. Meanwhile, battered women's shelters eagerly accept donations of outdated magazines for their clients to enjoy. A single ream of copy paper uses 6% of a tree, so by simply printing rough drafts or in-house memos on the back of paper that would otherwise be discarded, a single office can save hundreds of trees every year. If you're using new paper for this type of work, print on both sides.

About the Author

Lorna Doone Brewer is a freelance writer and business owner who also writes for both Freelance Parent and the Something Good blog.

Read more by Lorna Doone Brewer

3 comments so far...