READ TIME: 3-5 Mins
Earth day was in April so hopefully I have given you enough time to implement that green program in your office before I completely change what you think you know about being green. Now let me preface this by saying green is good. I mean, who wouldn’t want a greener planet? The problem with going green in the office is there are plenty of marketing departments telling you how green their products are, but not a lot of education about what it truly means to be green. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the common points of confusion related to the green movement.
Third party certifications such as EcoLogo, Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Green Seal and others have very high costs to get products certified. Purchasing products that pass these standards and earn certification are generally a great place to start when developing a green program for your office but are not necessarily the end all be all of green. There are lots of fantastic products out there that meet or exceed the green standards put forth by these certifications but have not spend the money to become certified. Try to understand how the product is made, what it is made with, and how it gets to your office to assess its true carbon footprint.
Speaking of a misconception around a carbon footprint, did you know that virgin copy paper that meets the FSC and/or SFI certifications actually has a smaller carbon footprint as compared to copy paper made from recycled content? How can that be?
Think about the process of making paper. Virgin paper is made from trees harvested according to FSC and/or SFI standards which protect the environment. These trees are harvested from very close to the paper mill and your paper is created from virgin pulp. Recycled content copy paper requires recycled paper that has to be shipped in from a far greater radius than the trees used in virgin paper increasing the carbon emissions of trucks and trains to get that recycled paper to the mill. Once it is there, the recycled paper has to be stripped of all the ink and dyes currently in it resulting in a lot of waste. Finally, the recycled pulp has to be bleached to bring it back to white. Just because something is made from recycled content does not necessarily mean it is a greener alternative.
Compostable and biodegradable products are a newer phase of the green movement. On paper they are an excellent idea. The problem is just buying compostable or biodegradable items does not mean they will end up composting or biodegrading. Both processes require oxygen to break down. When these items are put into a landfill, which is where they end up when you simply throw a compostable cup or biodegradable fork into the regular trash can, they do not receive the oxygen necessary to break down and in effect are just the same as your normal trash. If you want to invest in compostable or biodegradable items to make a difference, make sure your items are not ending up in a landfill, so they can break down the way they were intended to.
That’s right folks, going green isn’t all that simple but totally doable with these in mind. Again, going green is great and at Guernsey, we like to go green the smart way. What did you think about our two-cents? Tell us your thoughts!