Going Green- at Work




Introduction: Going Green- at Work

About: I work in a D.i.Y style superstore. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, but it certainly perpetuates my interest in such areas. I enjoy high powered devices of any kind. I do not give in, even…

Gone green at home?
If so well done!!
Now spread the green-love to your workplace...

This Instructable will show you some practicle excercises, which may assist you in reducing your workplaces signature on the globe...

I work for a Home-depot style store.We excercise many avenues when trying to reduce our damage to the globe..

Fortunatley the business I work for is very community minded and is willing to input revenue into these projects.
Yours may not be so willing, yet some gently persuasion by staff may assist..

$$$ figures seem to work wonders. Although some set up costs are involved, they will reap the $$$ back in the future...


Step 1: Planning-

Although not the most exciting step, it is a necessity and needs to be done first in order to achieve maximum results with minimum expenditure.

You should begin with enlisting as many co-workers and management as possible.

Many hands make light work.

Try to get at least two other keen people to orgainise this with you.

Start small, think BIG

Too often we find that what may seem like a small issue, can rapidly escalate and accumulate into a much larger problem. This can often go un-noticed until a critical level is reached.

Take a look around your work place.

Note all the obvious things that would make a sudden/large impact if something was to be done.
Of those break it into two groups 1. Low cost 2. High cost .
Low cost solutions should be considered initially as they will be more acceptable to the business.

You should be also looking for things which will not disrupt the flow of the work place especially during business hours when converting\implementing.

Parallel conversions (running both simultaneously until new system works etc) are always a good option.

In the following steps I will show you what we have been able to accomplish and how you can do it to..

Step 2: "Wastefulness"- Our Human Failing

No one wants to be wasteful. We try our best to recycle and do the right thing.

Unfortunatley every human being on this planet, has a slightly different version of what's their "best" and how much "trying" goes into achieving this.

This is however the major problem with recycling. "Trying" is just not cutting it.
If we all just "tried our best" we would achieve something, yet not the ultimate goal if we were to have "done it" not just "tried our best".

The more facilities available at hand to recycle, the more likely we are to use them.

Step 3: Plastic Bags- Who Needs Them?

We are all more than aware of the damage that these little nasties do to the environment. Not only will they be around for the thousands of years, they flow with the earths currents. Both air and water take them to the far reaches of our planet. Sometimes beyond. Several have been spotted by astronauts.
So we are not only polluting Earth but have now started on space.

If your products come in outer cardboard boxes upon delivery, keep them!

Slice them in half and re-tape the top closed. Now you have two boxes suitable for goods to be carried in.
We offer bags still (as customers still are customers) yet they cost 15c AU, which is donated to tree regeneration programs.
Our customers now very rarely complain about not having bags and many prefer the boxes.

You should find in most cases that your incoming box supply should almost keep up with the demand. Obviously this may not be an option, but a ready supply of boxes at hand may save a few bags from reaching space.

(Yes they are mini red wheel-barrows for the kiddies to use)

Step 4: Carboard Box's- Got to Many?

When your box storage area is crammed full. You may find yourself tempted to throw-out these valuable boxes. Valuable you say? Yes in the monetary sense.
Cardboard recycling is a profitable business these days. Many companies have arisen not only willing to take them for free, but are prepared to pay reasonable money for them. Especially if crushed into bailes. These "bailes" are 1.2m by 1.2m or 4ft by 4ft.
We are paid $15AU per bail and accumulate 5-10 per week.
The initial cost for this is quite high and therefore perhaps out of reach for a smaller business.

The bailer is a hydraulic driven compression device. It crushes full boxes down then wraps and ties the bailes. These bailes hold approx 60 crushed boxes.

They addition of the compactor has also reduced our amount of hard waste collected dramatically. This was the major benefit as we were having to pay alot to have them taken to land fill etc.

Step 5: Harvest Your H2O-

As at home, rain water storage vessel's can offer a effective and cheap source of clean water.
Depending on the businesses size and nature, the harvested rain water can be used for a myriad of different things.

At our work place we have three 15000 litre tanks. They collect from a 250sqm skillion corrugated iron roof upon our warehouse. Note the signage, helps with public image.

The three tanks facilitate-

1. All WC's, those being three males staff, three female staff and three for customer use.
That is nine toilets running from the tanks. I would estimate usage to be around 100 flushes per day, at 4litres a shot. That is a lot of water being saved.

2. Our outdoor nursery is irrigated using the harvested water. We did have exemption licenses to use mains water for the plants, yet installed the tank so we could cease.
With over 2000 plants at any time, we were consuming immense amounts of water.

3.Cleaning of hard surfaces is also done with this water.

Step 6: Recycling Containers-

Finished the milk bottle off after your coffee??
Where does the plastic milk container go? In the trash? I certainly hope not.
Worldwide sorted garbage disposal and separation at point of usage is becoming more and more popular.
Many local governments run recycling programs for plastic/glass/aluminium containers.
This may also extend to business addresses also.

In our case our containers are separated and collected in these blue plastic recycling bins. They are picked up bi-weekly. They provide an easy and convenient way to stop these precious resources going into our hard waste.

The bins were supplied free of charge and are collected free of charge also.

Well worth looking into if there is not recycling bins in place.

Step 7: Paper Waste-

Paper waste especially in office environments is becoming a more high lighted issue.
This is due to the fact that we are consuming emmence amounts of paper, some of which is avoidable and all can be recycled.

If your paper waste is not going into a seperate recycling bin, then it should be.
A recycling bin should be located in the vacinty of all photocopiers and one placed next each bin in the workplace.

If it is just a matter of moving your hand slightly to the left, then workers will be more likely to put it in the correct bin. Due to the human nature, if the recycling bin is in a less convienient place than the bin, it will go in the bin.

Shredding devices can now be in-built into you bin to ensure all shredded documents are recycled.

Step 8: Chemical Spill Kits-

The last thing we want is any spills getting anywhere near the external environment. Any spills whether toxic or not should be addressed immediately.

This can be ensured by keeping spill kits ready at hand.

These bins are located in several positions around our store.
They contain several items, these include:-

*Face shield/goggles
*Barrier/absorption medium
*Dust pan

Extra care must be taken if a storm water drain is in the vicinity.
A barrier medium must be laid as to prevent flow into a drain.
Heavy fines may be encured as a result of contamination of a storm water drain.

These kits are relatively cheap to make-up/purchase and could save a hefty fine as well as a nasty contamination of the environment.

Step 9: Male Urinals- Yes I Am Going to Go There

You thought you got away with it hey..?
No mention of the urinal.
Unfortunately not.

Male urinals waste an enormous amount of water just to flush a liquid away.
All that is needed to switch that water off for good is a few anti-bacterial cubes to kill off bacteria levels etc.
It uses natural microbial technology to control odours and the build up of uric scale.
Urine is 98% water, it is gernerally mild in odour and stertile. The odour is due to bacteria binding with the solids in the urine.

The micro-bio cubes block the bacteria from feeding on the solid matter. This eliminates most if not all odour.
The water that a standard urinal runs on help provide bacteria with exactly the environment they crave, a wet or damp environment, a food source and protection from direct light.

So our urinal runs on no water, except for the occasional wash down (just to be sure).
There is no smell at all. Although it does not sound pleasant, after 2 years we have got use to the idea.

Now I cringe when I walk into a bathroom, that has a urinal running on water.

I am in no way affiliated with this company, but this is what we use. I am sure there are many others available on the market. Check them out.

Do not confuse this with standard urinals cakes, they are not.

Step 10: Bio-degradable Products-

On the market these day there are literally hundreds of environmentally sensitive products available for home use cleaning. They are available at minimal extra cost and have little to no impact on the environment.

Similar products are also available on a commercial level. They are well worth investigating and evaluating as to whether they could be used.
The possibilities are endless try to brain storm as to what might be available in a eco friendly form.

For example we now offer eco-friendly paints for the home that have a large percentage or the entirety of harmful chemicals removed from them.
The tinting pigments we use are also enviro friendly.

Step 11: Illumination-

Every work place just about is illuminated in some way. Lighting is a necessasity. Our illumination source is however a decission we need to make wisely.

We recently have purchased low powered lighting, it will arrive soon and once our floors are polished it will be installed.

Illumination is one of those things that I formentioned. We as humans take light for granted, for many years we have been blinded by this fact(pardon the pun).

Illumination sources left running for extended periods of time are extensive energy wasters.
Although perhaps a neccessity, we can ensure that we minimise the loss by using energy efficient globes.
In order for us to minimise the amount of required lumens, we need to optimise our light produced. A simple way in a warehouse situation would be to re-surface your concrete floor smooth then have it gloss sealed or polished. The reflection of light can be in excess of 70%. Alternativley have it painted a light shade of colour.

Can be an excellent supplement for you low power light sources. Natural light can be easily equivilant to stanadard lighting systems. (Pictures show old High intensity lights next to skylights.)

*Compact fluorescent-

Positive: Useful for close quarter lighting or higher wattages are suitable for office lighting.

Negative: Lack in directional focus. Not able to spotlight an area.

*Compact fluorescent with reflector-

Positive: After years running a electrical department, in my opinion reflectors optimise your direction of light. Given the correct reflector angle for sqm of light required, these optimize your some what under powered compact fluorescents. For those in countries related to AU a Ro80 reflector with a 100w (incan equiv) would be optimum for a standard office.

Negative: The draw back is they lack in dispersed lightly for larger areas.

*Linear fluorescent-

Positive:36w out of a 4ft x 1 In (120cm x 25mm) is fairly impressive. The very nature of linear globes makes them an attractice prospect in lighting a work space. they disperse light very effectively.

Negative: They lack in directional focus.

Step 12: Final Note- to Close

Although it is a unnerving thought it is essential we all spare a moment to understand the situation the Earth is in.

The Earth can not sustain the human population for much longer if we continue at this rate.

Oceans are warming, the ozone layer is drastically depleted (hardly could be considered a hole anymore), ice caps are melting, all but some substantial rainforests have been felled, the Earths own breath has been disrupted.

We are standing on the edge, we have a choice. A decision needs to be made with-in us all as to if we believe that we owe the Earth anything. Is it not our role as keepers of it to, nurture and ensure it's continued funtionality as an orgasism supporting enviroment.

Take your time in deciding this as the results of your answer, will determine not only the fate of the human kind but also the planet we reserve the right to call our own

Choose wisely.

I hope you may find this of assistance if nothing more, I hope enjoyed it.

Step 13: Should There Be More- Your Opinion

I would request in the interest of public awareness, that instead of negative comments to this intructable lets try a new approach.

Collect your thoughts and post them in point form.

I would be more than happy to add steps or correct points.

This is a list I very much intend on adding to, yet I realised I could personally go on forever and that may not achieve the ultimate goal unfortunatley.

In saying that I look forward to you input and expect you have some more important points. Please contribute...

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    14 years ago on Introduction

    . Great job - I gave it a +. . I used to work at a hazardous waste incinerator and since everything that came in contact with hazardous materials was considered contaminated, we generated a lot of waste. While they started recycling a lot of stuff, their main emphasis was on "waste minimization" - the less you make, the less you have to worry about.


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    As of next week our mixed waste dumpsters(2) are being picked up. After that we will sort everything and recycle 99% of our waste(hard). I look forward to that day. I will not miss those bins.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    I love this!!! It is great that you are going green not only at home...but also at work! It is absolutely awesome, nice work!


    Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

    Thankyou, look forward to some more additions. Our funding has just started, soon we hope to get into the community some more. Perhaps our local waterway will be our next project.