Toward A More Sustainable 2009

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With New Year's just around the corner, it's time to make resolutions for the coming 12 months. Many of us have pledged the old clichés year after year: dieting, saving money or quitting smoking.

Resolving to be healthy or financially fit is important. But with fluctuating energy prices and rising social awareness around the importance of sustainability, many Americans are ditching the tried and tired New Year's clichés in favor of more holistic "green" resolutions for the benefit of themselves, their communities and the earth. These individuals are resolving to make a real difference in the world — in small, but collectively impactful ways.

We know that sustainability starts with each and every one of us, individual and company alike. What better way to kick off 2009 than to make some commonsense adjustments around the office?

One of the most obvious ways to make a greener office is to simply switch off computers when they're not in use. Another energy saving suggestion is to install timers on printers and photocopiers so that they switch off automatically when not in use, or install motion sensors to guard against wasting energy when no one is in the conference room, kitchen or copy center. Have a window in your office? You may not need to turn on the lights at all. In many circumstances, natural light is just as good, or better, than indoor lighting. It's also a bold — and completely free — environmental statement.

Opt for sustainably-grown coffee in the office coffee pot. Switch out the soap in the bathroom for a biodegradable bar. Pack a healthy, natural lunch — in a reusable sack, of course. Instead of taking that business trip, try videoconferencing or just using that old, GHG-conserving standby — the telephone.

Long day at the office? After carpooling home, why not kick back in front of a crackly fireplace with a clean-burning fuel source? Turning down the thermostat by just a few degrees is more than just good for the environment. It can save money on your family's monthly energy bill.

These are just a few of the simple things we can do as individuals to make the world better for our children and grandchildren and, in many cases, improve our own health and finances.

At Business Roundtable, we believe that companies have a role to play in this process as well. A major role, in fact. That's why we have launched several major initiatives, including S.E.E. Change and Climate RESOLVE, to harness the sustainability contributions of our member companies and encourage business strategies that measurably improve society, the environment and the economy.

Business Roundtable member Abbott has made, and kept, a resolution to make its U.S. vehicle fleet completely "carbon neutral," the first Fortune 500 company to do so. Its actions will result in a GHG reduction of more than 180,000 metric tons— the equivalent of 12,000 cars. Siemens is demonstrating its commitment to alternative sources of energy, producing 50,000 oil barrels worth of energy at a wind farm in Maine. ITT Corporation has resolved to help a drought-stricken town in New Mexico, cleaning every drop of water that goes down the city's pipes and returning it to the community for washing, irrigation, cleaning and drinking. Eastman Kodak made a resolution several years ago to reduce its energy use by 15 percent; a promise it not only kept, but exceeded. This resulted in CO2 emissions reductions equivalent to planting more than 216,000 acres of trees.

The new year is a time for renewal and change. We believe strongly in the power of individuals and businesses to positively transform our planet, inch by inch and action by action. That is something we're committed to at Business Roundtable, and it's something that's increasingly drawing the attention of America's socially committed citizens.

Saving the planet — now that's something that deserves a New Year's toast. So, this January 1, let's raise our glasses to sustainable growth and a brighter future for America's citizens, communities and companies.

Sustainable Office Supplies From Our Archive
Lock Cup: Your Sustainable Office Coffee Cup And Key
The Green Office: Sustainable Everything for Work
Sustainable Portables by the Office of Mobile Design
The Office: Flexible, Green Office Space for All
Sustainable, Modern and Stackable Furniture

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