By Wendi Latko
If you cannot recall anything Senator Gaylord Nelson ever did in his life – or you don’t know who Senator Nelson is – then you must know this: His 1969 idea of a “national day for the
environment” became the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. But Nelson worked to protect our environment much longer than one day a year.
So it is with Xerox and Xerox people.
As head of Xerox’s Environment, Health, Safety and Sustainability organization, I work with some of the smartest and most dedicated people in our company – regardless of whether they work for me, or if they report into our supply chain or product design organizations. For us, preserving the planet might just as well be part of our job descriptions. Even if you don’t believe people can do much to affect the world – and I believe we can and do — then you must believe that people can help their own communities, and their companies’ financial performance.
Our work informs how products and services are designed, how supplies are sourced, how Xerox responds to customer requirements for things like energy efficiency, and so much more. And when we go home, we try to figure out how we can live more simply, burn less energy, or use less stuff.
For instance, my husband and I purchased an electric vehicle in 2013, and we took the leap to install solar panels on our house in 2014. Our solar panels more than offset the amount of electricity needed to charge the car.
I asked some of the people who work for me and with me one simple question: How do you use the 3 R’s in your everyday lives?
Here’s what they said.
I am fortunate to live in an area where I don’t need to own a car to get where I want to go, but instead choose to walk, bike, or take public transportation. I know that by not relying on a personal motor vehicle, I am supporting transportation systems that reduce congestion, improve air quality, and reduce noise.
I separate and recycle all of my household waste paper, cardboard, metals and glass. I have seven composting bins for all green waste from my kitchen and the garden – all of which regenerates my garden, and the cycle continues. As a result, I’m down to sending only one 30-liter bag of waste to the incinerator/landfill every two weeks. And then there’s my low-emissions car for local trips, as well as public transport for long journeys.
Missy Bessey, Assistant to Wendi Latko, Webster, N.Y. (No photo available.)
My husband and I are big on “reuse.” Old envelopes become lists for groceries, to-do’s and more. In the kitchen, I use the wax bags from cereal boxes to wrap meat before I tenderize it, or to coat chicken for chicken parm and chicken French. They also work well when I crush cookies into crumbs. Clear plastic containers work overtime in our garage and basement where they hold screws, nuts, bolts, nails, and such. They also hold my gardening tools upright, which makes them easy to find and grasp their handles.
I buy locally-sourced eggs, meat, and produce. Hang clothes to dry. Install CFL light bulbs and unplug appliances when not in use. Always recycle. Print on both sides of the paper. Feed the birds, and put up bird houses for their nests.
My husband and I like to think that all the little things we do add up over time, including shop local, reuse, repurpose, recycle or donate, shop with reusable bags, use a programmable thermostat, walk or ride our bikes for nearby errands, and participate in the local Clean Sweep program.
One of my favorite sayings is: “Buy Local, Be Local, Become Local.” If you use local products, eat at local restaurants, and support your local community then everyone around you is better. People remain employed, food/goods travel less which reduces their carbon footprint and people are uplifted through your generosity of just giving.
I don’t have a big garden nor the time to gardening for harvest my own vegetable or fruits. But I did build a small greenhouse with recycled material. It grows three tomatoes plant, some salad greens, and strawberries in a suspended basket. In the winter, I grow chicory. It’s not enough to feed us through the whole year, but enough to enjoy the real taste of fruits and vegetables without chemical products.
When I was young, I remember my father saying “turn off the lights,” or “don’t keep the water running — use only what you need.” As I got older, I realized the little things add up: My friend and I carpool to volleyball, our programmable thermostat makes sure when we are not home we are not heating the house, we donate items to the goodwill instead of throwing them out, and recycling items is easier than ever — paper, plastics, bottles, ink cartridges, electronics, even sneakers.
Sandy Kerns, Manager, Material Safety & Compliance, Global Government Affairs, Webster, N.Y. (No photo available.)
In addition to recycling electronics, paper, glass and plastic, we minimize electricity usage with LED bulbs and turning off lights and appliances when not in use. My recreational reading is almost exclusively electronic to avoid having stacks of books requiring disposal/recycling.
Growing up, I often left the lights on when I left a room and I let the faucet run while brushing my teeth. Years ago, I decided to change in order to reduce energy and water use in the house. I now turn off the lights when I leave a room. I also don’t leave the faucet running when shaving or brushing my teeth. I’ve seen the difference in my utility bills!
When I leave work, I make sure to unplug my power strip to ensure no electricity is wasted in my cube overnight. I also recycle both plastic and paper goods at home.
Our goal of zero waste to trash. It also means zero dollars to disposal companies. Reduce/reuse/recycle is achievable with mindfulness, making the options convenient and fun. Like side-by-side recyclables, reuse and trash containers; challenging our creative abilities. For ideas, I turn to Pinterest to copy ideas or build upon them and then share. Happy to say “goal achieved!” Trash company services eliminated. Weekly, my reuse and recyclable containers are at max. I accumulate the trivial amount of “trash” and when I have a trash bag amount, I drop it off the landfill and pay $5. Best of all, we’re “walking the talk.”
I go to work either by bicycle or public transportation. When I go shopping, I bring my own bags and favor local and packaging-free products. The gifts I offer for birthdays and such occasions generally have fair trade and ecologic certifications. Globally speaking, I try not to waste energy or resources.
When I lived in the New York City area, home storage space was minimal. Now, living upstate in a larger home, I buy food and other items in much larger size, single packages. This avoids the packaging waste created by many smaller size packages. We also re-use the containers, especially plastic ones.
I prefer to use refillable water bottles rather than purchasing bottled water from the store. There are several personal reasons for this choice: 1) I’m cheap (or thrifty), 2) Webster water tastes as good as bottled water, plus we get free filtered water at Xerox, and 3) it reduces the number of plastic bottles that have to be recycled or end up in a landfill.
Here’s how my family uses the 3 R’s at home: Reduce energy use with LED lights, energy efficient windows, and save water with high efficiency clothes washer and dishwasher. Reuse containers such as grocery bags, water bottles and Tupperware. Recycle cardboard, plastics, glass, and aluminum with weekly recycling pickups.
Every time I am some place where people give me documents to read, I always make a point to let them know that they should print them double sided, if they have not done so. I do that with documents from my son’s school, at my doctor’s office or the dentist’s office, documents here at Xerox, handouts from a training class and even flyers from vendors when I attend an event.
Getting back to nature. Each spring I tap my sugar maple trees and boil down the sap into pure maple syrup. I fuel the fire with wood from pine trees that have died or blown over in my yard. I recycle and reuse the glass syrup bottles each year. Yum!
Every day I pack a lunch for my daughter to bring to school. I will not use plastic baggies so I have a variety of reusable containers to choose from. I also have reusable plastic forks and spoons. She brings it all back home for me to wash and reuse. I have also started to avoid plastic straws as much as possible.
My family preserves the planet by packing no-litter lunches. Everything packed comes back to be washed and re-used. We use water bottles everywhere, which we refill and re-use. And when grocery shopping, we bring our own cloth bags. Every little bit helps!
The premise of Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” is put your hands on everything you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, get rid of it. Saving the world starts with consuming less. I’m now painfully aware of how much I consume.
On my diet I reduced by 70 pounds in the last nine months. Does that count? 😉 We use our leftovers to pack lunches. All recyclables go through our trash compactor at home, and Rumpke Recycle helps us perform reuse and recycle down line.
At home, we reduce our electrical usage through power saving options like LED lighting. Religiously recycle – we have one trash can and three recycle bins on the curb each week. We reuse packaging and paper for crafts for my wife’s kindergarten school projects. (She’s a teacher, not still in kindergarten herself!)
A few years ago I purchased a Toyota Prius C to cut back on my fossil fuel use. I am also the chair of the Environmental Committee at the Xerox Digital Sales office in Saint John, NB. Also, I recycle, compost, and shop local.
David Platt, Customer Service & Refurbished Sales, Inventory Planning Analyst, Wilsonville, Ore.
The Xerox Factory Outlet, launched in 1999, offers lower-cost alternatives to customers, and promotes reduce, reuse and recycle strategies. All refurbished equipment is processed by qualified Xerox technicians at the Reverse Logistics Center in Monroe, Ohio. Each of the refurbished machines meet original factory specifications, and come with a 90-day warranty.
How do you help preserve the planet? Leave a comment and let us know!