Category Archives: Consumers and Sustainability

Water Cooler Talk: Water Coolers or Filtered Water Fountains

filtered water fountainsLast year, Americans consumed more than 9 billion gallons of bottled water, according to the International Bottled Water Association.

That’s an average of 30 gallons consumed for every person in the country, and an awful lot of plastic bottles being unceremoniously dumped in landfills from Maryland to California and everywhere in between. If only there were some tools to help people use fewer water bottles.

There are.

As bottled water consumption has increased throughout the United States, so, too, has awareness among schools, local governments and businesses about the problems associated with bottled water, including the greenhouse gasses used to produce the plastic bottles, the carbon dioxide associated with hauling them to landfills, and the loss of green spaces to landfills.

To help make it easier for people to cut back on the number of plastic bottles they use, more and more businesses, schools and government agencies are installing either water coolers or filtered water fountains in their buildings. Both provide convenient ways for people to find places to refill their water bottles rather than buying new ones all the time.

If people use them, both water coolers and filtered water fountains are better for the environment than having everyone buying new bottles of water every time they finish one. What are really cool are the filtered water fountains that come with a tracking system that counts how many bottles of water are saved each time the fountain is used.

Today’s modern filtered water fountains are much more than just a place to refill your water bottle. They’re billboards for the environment, equipped with sensors that measure how much water the fountain has distributed and the corresponding number of water bottles it would have taken to dispense that much hydration. The fountains flash a number that represents how many water bottles have theoretically been kept out of landfills.

People using the fountains get instant gratification on two fronts: They get their fresh, filtered water, and they get to see the direct impact they’re having on the environment.

It’s a win-win and a great way for a company to earn extra points for their online sustainability certification. An online sustainability certification, like the one from Class-G, shows the world that an organization is committed to being a good steward of the community’s natural resources. And thanks to innovations like bottle-counting filtered water fountains, it’s never been easier to achieve.

Office Materials: The Difference between Recycled and Recyclable

recycled and recyclable

When shopping for the most environmentally friendly options, it is important not to confuse the terms recycled and recyclable.

Office materials are one area where companies can easily increase their efforts to become greener. However, when shopping for the most environmentally friendly options, it is important not to confuse the terms recycled and recyclable.

What Is the Difference Between Recycled and Recyclable?

Items that are recycled are made from materials that previously formed another object. Recyclable, on the other hand, means the item can be reused when the owner no longer has use for it. Paper, metal, and plastic may all fall under this latter category. Some other materials are not worth recycling either because their recycling rate is too low or because the technology to reuse such material does not exist.

The Problem with Recyclables

The most eco-friendly options for office materials are those that are both recycled and recyclable. However, there is often a problem with items labeled “recyclable,” namely, the likelihood that they will actually be recycled once they are no longer useful. For instance, an office chair may contain a high percentage of recyclable materials, but most likely office managers will encounter difficulties if they try to recycle the pieces.

In order to make the smallest environmental impact, businesses need to make smart choices when choosing office supplies. This means considering the recycled and recyclable materials contained in an object, researching how easily an item can be  recycled, and choosing supplies that are likely to have a long lifespan.


Apple CEO Tells Climate-Skeptic Shareholders Where to Shove It

Apple SustainabilityThis is a shout-out to Apple, their CEO, Tim Cook, and to who published this great article with a terrific headline, from which we are borrowing.

Essentially the article talks about how Cook told shareholders that if they don’t like Apple’s switch to renewable energy, they should sell their Apple stock.

Since Cook became CEO, Apple increased the amount of renewable energy powering its facilities worldwide from about 25% to a whopping 75%.

Cook shot back at the conservative think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research, which asked Apple to discontinue environmental initiatives that don’t increase profits. Their general counsel wrote: “We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards. This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender.”

Cook retorted to this, stating that the company’s environmental efforts make full economic sense, and added “We do a lot of things for reasons besides profit motive. We want to leave the world better than we found it.”

Some of the comments on that article inspired us.

Andy Middleton, Associate Director at Institute for Sustainable Practice Innovation & Resource Effectiveness, wrote, “It’s not before time that Apple has made strong comments about common sense. They could do so much more, and maybe influence a whole generation of consumers to make smarter decisions.”

Bert Lee, Manager at Key West Sunset Celebration, wrote, “Good. They voted down the profit-first people. This is the only way to get meaningful change. Even if there wasn’t a problem with the climate, renewable energy is a forward-looking concept. The people that claim climate change is a hoax will usually concede that pollution is a problem. There can be nothing bad about choosing a better path.”

Nathan Baker said, “I’m very impressed. I don’t own anything made by Apple. This may very well influence my purchases in the future.”

And Andy Trafford wrote, “For the first time ever I am giving Apple a thumbs-up.”

This points to what the public is clamoring for more and more. That sustainability is a practice worth rewarding. Yes, there is a minority of the population who think profits trump clean air, but, as Apple and so many Class-G clients are telling us, you can have both.