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Living Less Unsustainably: Two Feet

Two footprints in the sand
Dim Hou
Most of us have two carbon footprints: at work and at home. KLCC's John Fischer says the bigger one may land at work.

Many of us are making big efforts to reduce our personal carbon footprint - maybe better called our climate footprint. But most of us have two footprints, and the bigger one may land at work. Carefully recycling all the paper in your home, and then throwing out piles of paper at work could be defined as hypocrisy - or opportunity.

Where I worked many years ago, masses of paper were thrown out every day until a few employees talked to the waste hauler who set up a recycle bin. The company got reduced the garbage fees because volume went way down, and high value paper got recycled - not thrown out. Yes, yes, a win-win.

Energy saving opportunities like motion sensor lights, and programmable thermostats often pay for themselves in reduced utility costs. And while you likely have some great ideas, you don't have to figure out all the best places for your employer to change things. Utility companies, the Bring Business Rethink program, Eugene’s "Love Food, Not Waste" composting program and other opportunities are already in place just waiting for you, or your boss to ask.

And if quick pay back of investments is not enough of an inducement, there are numerous programs - through utility companies, energy trust of Oregon, and state and local government - that will give you equipment, or the money to buy it.

During construction or demolition, it's best to presort wood, metal, and concrete, but if that's not possible, EcoSort will do the job for you - usually at a cost the same, or less than dump fees. Lane forest products and Rexius will take concrete, wood, branches, and soil. Not only will those materials stay out of the landfill, they will have second useful lives as soil amendments, construction gravel, or biofuel.

If you're doing a remodel, insist on a contractor who will do the right thing with the leftovers. When you clean out the fridge in the break room, put those leftovers into the new company compost bin, not the trash can.

Here is a list of resources. Let me know what I've missed, and I'll add it on.

Business Footprint Reducers
BRING Rethink
Love Food, Not Waste Eugene
Lane Forest Products

Springfield Utility Board
Eugene Water and Electric Board
Emerald People’s Utility District
Energy Trust of Oregon

John Fischer is a Master Gardener and Master Recycler and the host of KLCC's Good Gardening and Living Less Unsustainably.