Hey Mr. Green Advice for workers, actors, and shoppers By Bob Schildgen
Hey Mr. Green,
How can I persuade the company I work for, a nationwide restaurant chain, to adopt a recycling program? —Trisha in Cincinnati
Try to start a pilot program in your workplace that other outlets can emulate. The first step is to find out what recycling programs are offered by the city's commercial haulers and what types of waste they take. Then ask if they pick up recycling for free or at a discounted rate. If they do, that'll be a big plus.
Next, try to identify an environmentalist in management, if indeed such a creature exists, and explain how recycling can save money (the economic argument) and help reduce global warming (the moral argument). Also point out that recycling is mighty fine PR. If all else fails, ask permission to set up a program yourself and organize your coworkers to help collect waste and take it to the nearest recycling center.
For more ideas, go to earth911.org and click on "Business Resources" or contact the Green Chamber of Commerce. If your recycling venture succeeds, you can move on to promoting energy conservation with efficient lighting, water heating, and insulation. Then you can kick back and listen to your supervisors gloat about how they're saving money and the environment.
Hey Mr. Green,
I recently spent five months touring the country with the American Shakespeare Center and tried my best to be green on the road. I unplugged the clock, microwave, and fridge and kept my water usage to a minimum. What else can we travelers do? —Kevin in Detroit
Turn the heat down to 68 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in winter (60 degrees when you're sleeping), and in summer, turn the air conditioner off or the thermostat up to 78 or higher. Use towels more than once, and take mass transit when possible for your side trips. If you want to go all-out, turn off the TV. (Having to entertain yourself will also build character and sharpen your acting talent.) Avoid wasting energy in your vacant home by unplugging or shutting off as much as is practical, turning the heat down as low as possible in winter (but not so low that your pipes would freeze), and turning the air conditioner off. If you have a conventional tank water heater, turn it off too. Finally, as Shakespeare himself said, albeit under tragic circumstances, "Put out the light, and then put out the light."
Hey Mr. Green,
I know organically grown cotton is better for the environment, but is there any difference in the fabric? Do the pesticides wash out in the laundry? —April in Redlands, California
The clothes shoppers buy don't have pesticides in them, but the clothes farmworkers wear home from the fields might. Conventional cotton growing requires a lot of poison--as much as 25 percent of the insecticides applied to all crops--so organic cotton, which is grown with minimal pesticides and governed under the same standards as organic food, is safer for farmers and the environment. Some organic cotton processors also use natural dyes--another plus. The major minus is a higher price. But if people are willing to shell out for a big name on a little label, they should be able to spend more on fashion that's lighter on the earth. For more information, visit aboutorganiccotton.org.
CONTACT USRead more Mr. Green and submit your own questions atsierraclub.org/mrgreen, or mail them care of Sierra at 85 Second St., 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94105.
Illustration by Melinda Beck; used with permission.