Stop the Press: How to Go Paperless in 2015

Since papyrus was re-branded as paper and Gutenberg press first began printing, the ideal of the ‘Paperless Office’ has been strived for by some and derided by others as an impossible dream, fanciful folklore and a mere modern myth.

In 2014, Wrap.org (Waste & Resources Action Programme) calculated that the average office worker in the U.K. uses 45 pieces of paper a day – with over half of this figure considered as waste.

A depressing statistic indeed, but as the new year is a time for optimism and promise, a time to lay yesterday’s bad habits to rest and turn over a new leaf, we’re looking at easy and cost-effective ways to set your company on track to achieve the seemingly unachievable.

Introduce Electric Signatures

Sometimes there’s just no substitute for a nice weighty piece of paper. Like, for instance, when you need a physical signature on an important document. This is one of the rare occasions when it’s ok to say “hey environment, you don’t mind do you?”

Hmm. Sorry but yes, the environment does mind. Copying and printing forms in order to get written signatures is one of the most common practices in the workplace – from estate agents to law firms, schools and hospitals – everyone’s doing it and has been for far too long. Yet in most countries (including the U.S. and the U.K.) e-signatures hold the same legal weight as traditional, hand-scribed authentications. Changing your company policy to make sure that electronic signatures are compulsory in all cases is one sure-fire way to stop this madness once and for all.

Curtail Your Snail Mail

Wage-slips, bills and invoices – if you haven’t switched the majority of your company correspondence to paperless methods, you’re not only hurting the environment, you’re hurting your stationary bill too. Transform your mailshots to e-shots and change corporate Christmas cards to e-cards to drastically cut-down company paper usage. Fully switching to an online marketing strategy can save tonnes of paper and provide instant and more reliable statistics for your company about who has viewed and engaged with your campaign.

Newspaper minus the Paper

With the proliferation of tablets, phablets and smartphones in the workplace, why are we still reading newspapers on former forests? If you’re someone who thinks that you can’t substitute the ‘feel’ of the real thing, then perhaps take a moment to consider how it will ‘feel’ when the earth is a smouldering crater… Ok, so we’re being a little dramatic, but with so much free and up-to-the-minute news content available on the web, along with very reasonably priced subscriptions to most popular news publications, maybe it’s time to make use of company property for something other than just emails and calls.

Printer Limits

Take Control of Your Paperless Office

Take Control of Your Paperless Office

Whilst many offices have enforced double-sided printing policies and introduced tactics to reduce printer use (replacing smaller machines with one central printer located a walk away from all employees) we’re suggesting another way to limit what makes it to the printer tray. Printer codes or fobs that restrict the amount of printing that can be done by each employee per day/week can be particularly effective in weaning members of staff off their addiction to the white stuff.

File Sharing

Share files internally (and paperless-ly) using useful online applications like Google Docs. This file sharing app not only saves trips to the printer but also allows users to work on a document simultaneously, automatically saving every time the file is modified.

All these suggestions provide a way of setting a course towards an eventual paper-free office environment. And looking at these tip you may notice a theme: technology. Technology is making one valuable leap after the next in granting the average office worker the means to gradually reduce the amount of paper used in the office without hindering productivity. And as technology continues to develop, it’s no longer relevant to argue that the ‘Paperless Office’ is inefficient and unattainable. Instead, it’s time to make a date (in your online diary, of course) to make the change for good.


Christiana Brockbank writes for Ecard Mint, a corporate ecard provider and champion of eco-friendly marketing methods for small to medium-sized businesses.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Guest Author - January 24, 2015 at 8:49 am

Categories: Eco Business   Tags:

Are Electric Cars More Harmful To The Environment?

Electric cars have been frequently touted as being more environmentally friendly than standard petrol vehicles. This point, as many of you know is a key differentiator that most of the electric car companies use heavily in their marketing, both on and offline.

However, this view of electric cars being less environmentally damaging, although the most popularly held, is not the only one being bought to public attention. There is a small but vocal group that argue that electric cars may actually be more harmful to the environment than the gas guzzling beasts most commonly seen on our roads today.

So, are electric cars more harmful to the environment? The people at Carbuyertom.com did some research, the answer is not clear cut and is dependent on a number of factors which we will be discussing below.

yes no

Groups that assert that electric cars are more harmful to the environment than petrol cars centre their arguments around two major points, some of which are mentioned in a key study conducted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

The main arguments are;

  1. The production process of the electric car is more damaging to the environment than that of the non-electric cars, as “EVs exhibit the potential for significant increases in human toxicity, freshwater eco-toxicity, freshwater eutrophication, and metal depletion impacts, largely emanating from the vehicle supply chain”.
  2. The generation of the electricity needed to produce and later run the electric cars still often requires the burning of fossil fuels that are damaging to the environment. In some cases the burning of fossil fuels for car production is greater for electric cars which need more electricity to produce compared to non-electric cars.

With regards to the first point, a number of leading electric car manufacturers are increasingly doing more to make sure they are producing their vehicles in the least environmentally damaging way possible.

On the second point, even the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s, Guillaume Majeau-Bettez who has criticised electric cars has said, as mentioned by the BBC, that the electric cars success from an environmental standpoint is largely dependant on “how much we can clean up our electricity grid – both for the electricity you use when you drive your car, and for the electricity used for producing the car.” So a solution is posed. And on this note it is worth mentioning Tesla, a company who make it a priority to produce and run their cars using solar energy. But, harking back to Bettez’s point, the Tesla way has to become the mainstream way if the true environmental benefits of electric cars are to be realised. And there already seems to be a move in the right direction in the UK as according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change, “by 2020 it is estimated that coal will provide only 11% of electricity”, with the assumption being that most if not all of the remaining 89% of electricity production is going to be coming from renewable, clean sources.

The Electric Car Guide - 2015 Edition: Discover the truth about owning and using electric cars

The Electric Car Guide – 2015 Edition: Discover the truth about owning and using electric cars

It is also worth mentioning that the criticisms of the negative environmental impact of electric cars outlined in this article have been largely based on studies by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology which itself has been criticised by some for having links with oil company Statoil. However the university stresses that no oil money was used to fund the research and that their results are published online so are free to be challenged and scrutinised by other parties.

Furthermore, other studies such as the one conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists which analysed emissions and costs for both electric cars and gasoline-powered car from a well-to-wheel perspective (including drilling, refining, burning for gas and mining coal, making electricity for electric vehicles) found greater benefits coming from electric vehicle technology than that determined by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s.

So as we mentioned at the start of this article, when asking the question are electric cars more harmful to the environment than standard vehicles, the answer is not a clear cut yes or no, it’s dependent on a number of factors and the response varies depending on who you ask and what their motives are.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Eco Warrior - January 23, 2015 at 9:26 am

Categories: Eco Travel   Tags: ,

So what if our rainforests disappear?

Everyone’s talking about rainforest deforestation. We all know it’s a bad thing. But what, exactly, would happen to our beautiful blue planet if our rainforests disappeared?

Brand new research delivers a powerful message

A new piece of research delivers a powerful message: clearing trees not only hurls damaging carbon into the atmosphere, it also drives dramatic changes in rainfall patterns and increases temperatures right across the globe.

Worse still, the effects of cutting down forests are just as dangerous as human-driven carbon pollution, and levels of agricultural productivity are at risk too, threatened by the resulting deforestation-induced warming and changing patterns of rainfall.

Tropical rainforest destruction impacts farming conditions across the globe

The report is called Effects of Tropical Deforestation on Climate Change and Agriculture and it was published recently by Nature Climate Change magazine, the internationally respected scientific journal. It gives us the most comprehensive analysis so far about the impact of tropical deforestation on climate change as well as the impact of climate change on farming. More specifically, the research reveals how deforestation in South America, south east Asia and Africa might be instrumental in changing farming conditions as far away as the US’s mid-west, the EU and China.

The results are particularly important because this is the only global synthesis of research based on innovative new climate models plus empirical data about the direct local, regional and worldwide impact of destroying and damaging forests.

Rainforest deforestation could warm the climate 0.7 degrees Celsius more

Tropical forests play a vital role in the planet’s health, regulating interactions between the planet and its atmosphere. The findings indicate how complete tropical deforestation might push the earth’s temperatures 0.7 degrees Celsius higher, in addition to the impact of greenhouse gases. As lead author Deborah Lawrence, Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, says:

“Tropical deforestation delivers a double whammy to the climate – and to farmers. Most people know that climate change is a dangerous global problem, and that it’s caused by pumping carbon into the atmosphere. But it turns out that removing forests alters moisture and air flow, leading to changes – from fluctuating rainfall patterns to rises in temperatures – that are just as hazardous, and happen right away. The impacts go beyond the tropics – the United Kingdom and Hawaii could see an increase in rainfall while the US Midwest and Southern France could see a decline.”

As if we needed it, the report provides plenty more reasons for protecting and cherishing our precious rainforest environments.


Guest post by the Rainforest Foundation.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Eco Warrior - January 22, 2015 at 10:40 am

Categories: Conservation   Tags:

How Scotland can set the agenda for recycling

With more powers than ever before, the Scottish Government can now truly play a role in setting the green agenda for the entire British Isles.

One way that this can be done is by increasing the profile of recycling, so that both individual homes and businesses understand the importance of having a proactive approach.

Zero waste

The country’s first Zero Waste Plan was introduced on the 9th of June 2010 and has set out the Scottish Government’s vision for a zero waste society. The concept is still to create a Scotland where all waste is seen as a resource to be used in a positive manner, rather than as a problem to be dealt with by literally throwing it away.

This can be achieved by making sure valuable resources are not disposed of in landfills and that most waste is treated with the result that only limited amounts will remain to be disposed of.

Information

Part of the current problem is that information about waste management isn’t seen as a ‘sexy’ subject. No matter how much value it has – talking about refuse disposal techniques and recycling is a difficult conversation to start.

However, when it comes to businesses and commercial activities, overheads are always important. Individuals are likely to listen when they are told how to make cost cutting measures and introduce efficiencies that streamline working practices.

In this way, changes can be encouraged by offering companies information about how they can take part in Zero Waste activities and save money at the same time.

Compacting

Waste Management - Prevention, Recycling, Conservation

Waste Management – Prevention, Recycling, Conservation

Waste management can be expensive for a business in many ways. Storage of waste products and refuse can take up a large volume of space and transportation costs can also be a significant outlay.

By taking advantage of waste compactor rental deals a company can save money on both of these aspects of expenditure.

A compactor uses its clever design to literally squash waste materials together so that they take up far less room. This therefore means less need for storage space and less frequent transportation to disposal areas.

Not only does this save space at landfill sites but emissions from heavy duty waste transport vehicles are also reduced.

This is only one example of how Scotland’s businesses can take on a proactive green role and help the country achieve its Zero Waste targets.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Eco Warrior - January 22, 2015 at 10:27 am

Categories: Recycling   Tags:

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint Whilst Studying Overseas

Every year thousands of UK based students hop on a plane and embark on an exciting adventure that involves learning whilst experiencing new cultures abroad. There is little doubt that the combination of studying and travelling can be extremely rewarding and this is why it has become so popular. However, there is no excuse for forgetting about your eco-responsibilities whilst furthering your education, especially if you have chosen a country that may have less a stringent view on these issues. With this in mind we have picked a few proven tips that will not only ensure that you continue giving rather than taking from our beautiful planet but you will also enjoy your experience even more than you imagined.

Before You Go

Take a good look around your home and unplug any appliances that are not going to be used, also turn off your water heater and central heating unless you happen to be leaving people behind! We often waste energy on services that we don’t even use; so double check that your computer is not on standby and also your cable/satellite box should be given a rest.

On The Plane

Before you actually embark, why not save some paper and use your smartphone for those e-tickets and you’ll also be dodging potential identity thieves by removing that paper trail altogether. Take a direct flight and see if you can choose one that is near capacity instead of hoping for a half empty one. Okay, it may be nice and relaxing to have a few seats to yourself, but look at the bigger picture and know that a little discomfort will be well worth it to our beautiful planet.

Accommodation

If you are going to be finding accommodation after you arrive, try to find eco-friendly options if at all possible. Once you check-in you can employ some green practices to add to your overall efforts. Something as simple as hanging up a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your room to prevent the housekeepers blasting their chemicals and whatnot around your room will help a little. Keep your shower time down to a few minutes and try not to leave the light on, even if those noises outside are a little creepy.

Travel

Car hire may be fun and it’s usually not that expensive but if there are just one or two of you, why not skip this altogether and use the local transport system instead? As well as sampling some of the local colour, you will be saving on fossil fuels and the whole event will make for some excellent memories and holiday snaps.

We do hope that your overseas study is everything that you want it to be and if you bear these tips in mind, once your study has completed, you will leave whatever country you are visiting in a far better state than you would be ignoring them.


Author Bio

Phil Hall enjoys running an online clothing business and you can often find him reusing bags for his shopping chores.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Eco Warrior - January 16, 2015 at 8:44 am

Categories: Eco Friendly   Tags:

Why Use Low Carbon Technology?

There is a constant pressure on individuals and businesses to ensure that they are being as environmentally friendly as possible. In recent years the UK government has extended this pressure to suppliers, providers and owners of power assets, in order to increase the amount of low carbon technologies being used.

Low carbon technology holds a lot of benefits, although it can be expensive to replace your existing assets. So why make the switch?

Environmentally Friendly

One of the most overwhelming reasons to make the switch to low carbon is to cut down on pollution, waste and overuse of fossil fuels. Doing this will help to slow down and even prevent climate change, which the UK is currently aiming to see reduced by 80% by 2050.

Looking after the environment should be the number one priority for every power asset owner as not only will this ensure the longevity of their livelihood, but opens up new possibilities for the future. Every company needs to open the possibility for future expansion and for power companies this means looking into sustainable and environmentally friendly methods of providing the same service.

Competitive Advantage

As the current industry is already highly competitive, it may feel as though taking a step in a different direction could be a handicap. However, focusing on sustainability and utilising eco-friendly systems can give you an edge when it comes to the future of the power industry. This is a focus that the UK government and many industry leaders are already taking and investing a lot of money into.

Instead of having your business’s sole emphasis being on the use of fossil fuels, you can enter into the renewable energy and low carbon technologies market. By getting into this market now, you will be well placed for when this form of power becomes the industry norm.

Cut Costs

Adding low carbon technologies to your existing assets or integrating smart grids with your current operations can help you to dramatically cut costs. While some of these practices may be costly to enter into, once acquired your running costs should see a large decrease. This is especially true when using renewable energy systems, as there is no expensive and time consuming process of acquiring your main fuel source.


Guest post on behalf of EA Technology.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Guest Author - December 22, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Categories: Energy   Tags:

Deforestation, illegal logging and forest certification

Forests currently cover 30% of the earth’s land, and are home to almost 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. Each rainforest consists of the canopy, the understory, the shrub layer, the herbaceous layer and the forest floor. The ecosystems within the forest are complex and naturally self-sustaining. Disruption to these ecosystems can break down whole communities, causing a snowball effect which can kill off large areas of forests.

Deforestation is the process in which forests are cleared through logging or burning of trees, either for timber or to clear the land for non-forest use such as palm plants. Deforestation can be through forest fires, soil erosion, climate change, unsustainable logging and clear cutting. The current rate of deforestation is 1 hectare per second. Considering there can up to 320 species per hectare, this can be extremely devastating on the biodiversity.

As well as homing billions of species, forests play a vital role in regulating greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Forests act as a natural carbon sink, as they take in more carbon dioxide than they give out. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by plants, some is turned into oxygen through a process of photosynthesis and some is stored in the leaves, roots and trunk of the plants. It is estimated that deforestation has contributed to up to 30% of the carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere, as it hinders forests ability to absorb the greenhouse gas. This carbon dioxide contributes to the devastating effects of global warming.

There are national laws which aim to protect forests from the devastating effects of deforestation, however it is often cheaper for timber suppliers to violate these laws in order to gain access to protected species, cut down more trees than the laws allow, or clear cutting areas to gain timber at a faster rate. This illegal logging also allows timber suppliers to evade paying tax: it is estimated that $15 billion worth of tax is lost due to illegal logging. Illegally logged timber can therefore be sold cheaper than sustainably managed wood, saturating the market with cheap products and affecting timber sales for suppliers of sustainable wood. Whilst it is now against the law to sell illegally logged wood in Europe, businesses often turn a blind eye to their supply chain in order to get the cheaper products.

In the past decade or so, there has been an emphasis on sustainable forestry. A forest is deemed sustainable when it is carefully managed so that each tree felled is replaced by a new seedling. This is done in a way which protects whole habitats, species, water and soil quality, as well as the rights of local communities, workers and indigenous people.

Forest certification programmes have been created as a way of accrediting forests which conform to national laws and manage their forests responsibly. Certified wood can be tracked through the entire supply chain, allowing consumers to know exactly where it comes from.

There are almost 50 forest certification programmes available worldwide, but the most credible is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) due to their strict standards for responsible management. Where FSC is not available, the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (FSI) make a good alternative. All three feature online databases which allows consumers to check their products certification.

A study by Oak Furniture found that two thirds of consumers are willing to spend more for sustainably sourced wood, but only half would ask about whether or not it comes from responsibly managed forests. By asking for certified wood, consumers are letting businesses know that there is a demand for sustainable wood, making it more likely that businesses will increase the supply in the future. By refusing to buy wood which does not come from certified forests, businesses will have to switch suppliers, which will in turn encourage forest owners to comply to sustainable regulations in order to pass certification.

By choosing wood which is certified and comes from sustainably managed forests, consumers are helping to combat deforestation, slow down climate change and protect the earth’s biodiversity.


Image courtesy of John Barker via Flickr

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Eco Warrior - December 22, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Categories: Conservation   Tags:

Ancient Chinese rainforests under threat

We don’t often hear much about the vast tracts of ancient forest in China, an often secretive nation. But it turns out their old-growth forests are disappearing fast despite the government’s conservation policies. Worse still, it looks like China’s anti-logging, conservation and ecotourism policies are actually accelerating the damage.

Tensions between modernisation, development and conservation

The loss, which is taking place in one of the world’s most ecologically fragile places, poetically known as Shangri-La, in the north west of China’s lush Yunnan Province, serves to highlight the complicated interactions between the vast nation’s modernisation, development and conservation policies. They all have an impact on the most diverse temperate forests in the world. It’s an area famous for its scenic, ecological and ethnic diversity, but poverty levels are high and local people rely on the forests for their survival.

The region sits at the heart of China’s struggle to achieve both sustainable economic development and environmental responsibility, and highlights tensions that occur all over the planet.

A 1950s paradise lost

In the 1950s Yunnan became the focus of state logging companies, dedicated to clear-cutting old-growth forests in an effort to keep China’s national economic boom on track. The resulting catastrophic flooding of the Yangtze River in the 1990s drove the government to put a host of forest protection policies in place and implement a series of nature reserves.

There was a ban on commercial logging as well as reforestation programs and an increase in ecotourism. It looked very much like a sustainable development strategy. But local people are still allowed to carry out logging on a quota basis.

When ecotourism makes things worse…

According to research by Dartmouth College, USA, satellite images and statistical analysis reveal the protected area status did conserve old-growth forests. And the logging ban has managed to increase the total amount of forest cover. But at the same time it has accelerated old-growth logging in the region’s beautiful sacred forests.

Worse still, the fastest old-growth forest loss happened in the areas where there was the most ecotourism. As the study’s lead author Jodi Brandt says, “Our results show that the negative impacts of ecotourism-based economic development on the environment outweighed conservation efforts.”

It appears the booming tourist industry has increased demand for old-growth timber, and China’s official conservation policies have displaced logging to sacred areas. All of which illustrates the difficulty of satisfying diverse and often contradictory needs when addressing rainforest deforestation and forest conservation.


Guest post on behalf of the Rainforest Foundation. Image from yakovlev.alexey via Flickr.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Eco Warrior - December 22, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Categories: Conservation   Tags: ,

The Benefits of Peat Free Compost

Increased consumer interest in peat-free composts will encourage less peat extraction in the UK and reduces the damage of lowland bogs. This infographic from www.compostdirect.com provides some ideas on the benefits of going peat-free.

The benefits of Compost - Compost Direct

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Eco Warrior - December 18, 2014 at 11:13 am

Categories: Eco Garden   Tags:

Time to Save Life, Future, and World

A thoughtful infographic, especially at this time of the year, from Packaging Express.

Packaging Express

Be the first to comment - What do you think?
Posted by Eco Warrior - December 16, 2014 at 8:29 am

Categories: Eco Business   Tags:

Next Page »