With Earth Week starting around the corner, on April 17, it's a good time to think about sustainability—not just on the broad scale but in day-to-day life. The Johns Hopkins University Office of Sustainability has shared some tips for leading an eco-smart lifestyle in your workplace, without much fuss.
"A sustainable lifestyle means examining your daily habits and gradually adapting them in a way that is sustainable for you," says Olivia Zug, the department's outreach coordinator. "Reducing your environmental impact can be an exciting personal challenge—one that is, of course, beneficial not only to our neighborhood streams and parks but also for your personal health and community connections."
1. Before you recycle, refuse, reduce, and reuse
Although recycling your metal, plastic, glass, and paper is important, it's helpful to think about how you can bypass that step entirely. An easy way to reduce waste in the first place is to carry reusable water bottles, to-go mugs, and utensils with you every day. Before catered meetings, send a quick email to encourage others to do the same.
Pro tip: All JHU cafes provide a discount for beverages when you #BYOMug.
2. Power down
Help Johns Hopkins in its goal to reduce energy consumption and emissions by turning off lights and electronic equipment when they're not needed, especially over the weekend. With your computer, it's helpful to tinker with the settings to maximize energy efficiency. Your office's IT support can help.
Pro tip: Setting your computer to go into standby mode after 30 to 60 minutes of inactivity can help your department earn points for Green Office Certification.
3. Go meatless on Mondays
When you stick with a vegetarian, vegan, or even "flexitarian" diet for just one day a week, you're helping not only your own health but also that of the environment at large. Joining the global movement to go meatless on Mondays helps reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with livestock production. If we all did it, the impact would be the same as removing 240 million cars from the road each year.
As a Johns Hopkins employee, you can take special pride in participating in Meatless Mondays—the campaign was born here, in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, in 2003.
Pro tip: Visit the Meatless Monday website for tons of recipe inspirations.
4. Go green with events
Whether it's catering for 5,000 or a staff meeting with coffee, you can take steps in your planning to ensure the sustainability of the entire event. A "zero waste" event is one that produces no trash going to the incinerator because everything discarded is recyclable or compostable.
Check out our Green Event Planning resources, including the recently updated Preferred Green Caterers Directory, to guide you every step of the way. When you host a zero waste event on the Homewood campus, bins are free of charge—that's a savings of $30 to $120 per event.
Pro tip: "Bulk" is the magic word when it comes to green events. By asking your caterer to provide everything in bulk rather than in single servings—including beverages, condiments, coffee creamer, and more—you will make it easier for guests to sort their waste and for you to ensure a zero waste event.
5. Get connected
To go beyond changes in your own lifestyle, consider joining a network of like-minded people at Johns Hopkins who are advocating for a greener, cleaner world. The Green Team is a group of staff, faculty, and graduate students who stay in touch via listserv and take part in monthly "challenges" and bimonthly events such as tours, trainings, volunteer outings, and happy hours.
Pro tip: The website's Campuses and Contacts page answers frequently asked questions about recycling such things as electronics, lab items, and furniture, which varies by campus.
Earth Week will be celebrated April 17–21 across Johns Hopkins University. This year's theme is eco-literacy. Join the JHU and Baltimore communities for an event-packed week to celebrate our natural world and to learn how you can play a part in protecting it for future generations. A full calendar of events can be found on JHU Sustainability's website, and you can keep up with everything on Facebook.