The Company (Policies) We Keep

There’s an old Aesop’s Fable that deals with a man who wanted to buy a new donkey.  When he got the donkey home, it immediately took up with the laziest and greediest ass the man owned.  The man promptly returned the donkey to the seller saying he could see what sort of beast it was from the companion he chose for himself.  The moral of the story is that a man is known by the company he keeps.  So, if men are known by the company they keep, could one say that companies are known by the policies they keep?  This week’s post will deal with the company policy portion of social responsibility.

When company policies are written in regard to environmental initiatives, they may be accompanied by some grumbling of staff.  After all, most people don’t like change.  But it’s my experience that any new program is typically better received if it comes with some explanations.  For example, did you know that a faucet that drips one drop per second will waste over 2,000 gallons of water in a year?  What else would you like to spend that money on?  Whatever it is you would surely get more enjoyment out of that than sending a check to the utility company.

And speaking of water, are there bottles of water in your office or home?  There isn’t a definitive answer on how many water bottles are tossed out annually, but the numbers range from 22-50 billion.  Yes, that’s billion…with a “B”.  Whether it’s 22 or 50, that’s a heckuva lot of water bottles!  Living in God’s Country (aka Minnesota, the land of sky blue water) we are lucky enough to have the best tap water around.  I like to think of it as the water against which all other water is measured.  But occasionally people still have to purchase it due to well-water or local mineral issues.  So why not use the old water cooler?  They are readily available, fairly priced, can have hot or cold spigots, and provide the ultimate cliché meeting place for an office!  If you’re not ready for that type of commitment, you could always go with a filter for the tap or a filtered pitcher to keep in your fridge.

Some other good policies to help you be more socially responsible and save money:

  • Use bulk amenities (soaps, shampoos, etc.) instead of small individually packaged items
  • Have light switches only turn on one fixture as opposed to an entire room of lights
  • Have a preventative maintenance program regarding heating/cooling units and other appliances
  • Limit the use of disposable dishes and silverware
  • Have a paper recycling plan
    • Reuse paper whenever possible—using both sides
    • Only print necessary emails or reports
    • Buy recycled whenever available
    • Reduce the amount of (printed) newspapers in your home/office
  • Kick the habit!  Going nonsmoking saves money out-of-pocket and in health care expenses.  Set up teams for support and quit together.  Check out this blog post for a great way to stop for good.
  • Got grease to get rid of?  Take it to a transfer station or mix it with kitty litter for disposal instead of dumping it down the drain.

So when you’re looking at becoming more planet-friendly, don’t forget about the donkey.  The future really does depend on the company (and policies) we keep.

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