Author Archive | Jennie

6 Ways to Create a Paperless Office

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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A paperless office is often seen as something of a gimmick, but the less paper we use, the better it is for the environment – a point discussed in this article by GoCanvas.com. You can’t create a paperless office overnight, even if you are setting up a business from scratch. Clients may still need hard copies of documents and there could be regulatory requirements to store some documents on-site. However, thanks to technology, it is possible to do away with more paper than you might think.

#1: Request Online Billing
Most suppliers offer online billing these days. It saves them – and you – money. However, you will probably have to opt-in to this. Otherwise, paper bills will continue to arrive. You don’t need to print off a copy of your bill. The Inland Revenue Service will accept soft-copies of bills for accounts purposes. Download your bills and store them in a folder so you can access them for accounts purposes.

#2: Print to PDF
Why print to paper when you can print to PDF and share via email or the cloud? PDF documents are far easier to deal with thanks to online sharing tools. There are free PDF print tools available online, but if you need extra functionality, subscribe to Adobe or similar.

#3: File Sharing
Long gone are the days when reports had to be printed out and posted. These days, we can print to PDF and email it to multiple recipients. This is less time-consuming and you don’t need to run the gauntlet of expensive courier or postal services.

File sharing is now a thousand times easier thanks to Google Docs, Microsoft 360, and tools such as Dropbox. You can share vast reams of data, in all formats, on any device. File sharing makes it much easier for employees to work remotely, which saves everyone time and money.

#4: Make it Harder to Print
If your office has a printer on every desk, is it any wonder that people are happy to print off anything and everything? To discourage people from printing unnecessary files, make it harder for them. Remove old desktop printers and install a network printer out of the way, so if they do need to print a file, they must make an effort to retrieve it. You will soon notice a reduction in print costs.

#5: Use Apps for Notetaking
Notepads are useful tools for making memos to yourself, scribbling down ideas, or taking notes during a telephone conversation. You can do away with notebooks if you download an app like Evernote. Evernote works across multiple devices and will sync with a smartphone, so you can access notes and memos from anywhere.

#6: Electronic Signatures
It’s a misconception that electronic signatures are not legally binding. Thanks to the ESIGN Act of 2000, electronic signatures are now legally valid, so you can do away with the physical signing, even on legal documents such as contracts.

You won’t be able to discard all paper in the office, but paper usage can be mitigated if you recycle it as much as possible. Use discarded paper for making notes and print on both sides of the sheet if you absolutely must print out a document.

Simple Life Changes to Better the Environment!

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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The idea of “green” living involves being less reliant on synthetic products, but from an economic standpoint, “keeping it green” can be pretty costly. However, when the environment is overrun with plastic containers and Styrofoam, all of the trees are removed, and the air has been polluted by synthetic aerosols, the cost of healthy living in this world might exceed any pocketbook pain resulting from pricey green products and services. Fortunately, today’s consumers might find they can save more money by adopting simple green habits that preserve and improve the environment.

Change through energy and water consumption
The first place consumers might see cost savings while improving the environment is in the home. While a person can go green and go big by converting their energy supplier from electric to solar, on a smaller scale, daily lifestyle changes reduce the cost of utility bills. For example, instead of running the air and heat on high throughout the day, keep the heat running a few degrees lower in the winter and the air running higher in the summer. Better yet, install fans that run in conjunction with the air to prevent it from cycling so frequently during the summer. Consumers can also make energy-saving upgrades to a home by installing cheap shutters or applying plastic window shades to keep the home cool in the summer. Instead of using incandescent bulbs, opt for compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). In addition, it is a good idea to exchange synthetic household cleaners with natural cleaners such as vinegar, lemon, and baking soda.

Wise husbandry of water resources can also improve the environment while saving money. Very minor changes, like line drying as opposed to using a dryer for clothes, can save energy, money and the environment. You should also consider washing clothes in cold water to offset heating costs, as most of the energy used in a cycle goes to heating water. Homeowners can also install water-saving fixtures and faucets to reduce the amount of water used when bathing and using the restroom.

Those who find they spend an inordinate amount of water while watering plants and the grass might consider planting environmentally-friendly plants that do not require a lot of water. Finally, pay attention to programs the city might have to reduce hot water usage during non-peak hours. A simple device can be attached to a water heater that regulates energy use throughout the day.

Change through consumer purchasing power
Developing green habits that include purchasing green groceries and other personal items can also improve the environment and your health. Simple habits like reducing the number of meals where meat is served can save on groceries while bettering the environment. Because most vegetables are cheap, people and families who reduce meat consumption not only save money but also develop healthy eating habits. It’s even better if you can purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from local farmer’s markets in the area. If meat is a must-have staple in the diet, consider purchasing organic or free-range meat and eggs. If you’re feeding a family, consider purchasing popular groceries in bulk to save on money and reduce waste. Consumers can also save money on water consumption and reduce waste by avoiding bottled water and using a water filter that only needs changing every couple of months.

When purchasing products for the home, consumers should adopt a “borrow instead of buy” policy to reduce consumption. For example, instead of purchasing brand-new books, consider borrowing from libraries or visiting second-hand bookstores. Consumers reduce waste by borrowing and exchanging magazines as opposed to spending on subscriptions that add up. Better yet, purchase online subscriptions to get rid of hard copies entirely.

Other ways to conserve and save
Use online bill payment and e-statement options. Online bill pay and e-statements reduce paper waste, and some financial institutions do not charge a monthly fee for e-statements.

Maintain appliances in the home. Whether it is servicing a heating system or cleaning the coils behind the refrigerator, these maintenance habits save energy and money in utility costs.

Reuse and recycle plastics. Reuse plastics by converting them to storage containers. Furthermore, many garbage companies offer recycling programs in addition to garbage collection.

Ultimately, the planet, the human being, and the pocketbook will all benefit from adopting green habits that encourage conservation. Simple changes that cost no more than the effort it takes to adopt them can save consumers thousands in the long run. More importantly, conservation is one of those now-or-later situations. Humans, as a collective, can either conserve the earth’s resources now or pay costs related to a polluted environment later.

Photo by Natalie Collins on Unsplash  

Eco-Friendly Ways to Successfully Cool Your Home

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.
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While you might enjoy staying cool and comfortable in your home during the warmer months of the year, you may also be concerned about cooling your home in a way that’s sustainable and friendly for the environment. Explore a few tips for making your cooling experience eco-friendly and just as effective as traditional methods.

Invest in Quality Insulation and Sealing

Some of the best and most effective cooling methods don’t even involve your air conditioner. Take out some time to have a professional technician who specializes in air conditioning repairs inspect your current insulation to see if it’s doing its job and whether you need to consider investing in an upgrade. Different types of insulation and sealing include thermal envelopes and heat shields.

Boost Your Home’s Ventilation

Making sure air can easily flow through your home is also essential to keeping cool and overall energy efficiency. Specifically, you’ll want to keep your home’s windows, shades and doors closed up until it’s cool out, otherwise, you’ll only have hot air blowing through your home’s interior. Additionally, bear in mind that ceiling fans cool people, not rooms, which means you should only have your fans on when someone is in the room. On a related note, when your fans are on, they should spin counter-clockwise to draw hot air up into the ceiling.

Close Your Shades and Blinds

No matter how great the inside of your home looks while drenched in sunlight, it comes at the cost of heating up your interior, which means your air conditioner is working harder than necessary. To help combat feeling as if you’re living in a sauna, close up your blinds and shades against direct sunlight and the heat waves that comes with it. If you’re someone who thrives on sunshine, you can leave your blinds and shades partially closed to direct sunlight.

Cook at Night or in the Early Morning

Operating your oven or stove during the day cranks up the heat in your home, which makes your air conditioner crank up its efforts to keep your home at the same temperature. Rather than feel as if you’re making a sacrifice by not using the oven, you can instead start eating more raw vegetables and fruits, which your body is sure to thank you for. Opt for fruits like watermelon that contain a lot of water to help you keep cool.

Lower Your Overall Cooling Load

Ways to make the most of passive cooling include:

  • Add or upgrade the sealing around your home’s windows and doors.

  • Use low-E glazing to your windows.

  • Make sure you have proper and sufficient insulation in your attic.

  • Invest in a whole-house fan, which can decrease your use of your air conditioner as well as your overall energy consumption.

  • Consider installing a radiant barrier in your attic ducts.

These methods are sure to pay off in the long run.

Sleep With a Buckwheat Pillow

If you’re like most people, you probably like sleeping in a cool room. Blankets and sheets are comfortable while sleeping, but they can raise your body temperature. Rather than crank up the air conditioner, invest in a buckwheat pillow, which is naturally cooler than standard pillows and won’t keep you tossing and turning during the night, which impacts the overall quality of your sleep.

Turn Up Your Unit Temperature

You can still remain comfortable even if your unit is set at a higher temperature. For every degree you set your unit above 72 degrees, you can save anywhere from one to three percent energy. Try it and see if you notice a difference in your comfort levels.

With the right information, you can do your part to save the environment through more efficient cooling methods. Put these tips to good use and see what a difference they make and how good it feels to practice sustainability.

New: Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks!

Stonyfield Gummies 2

What kiddo doesn’t love fruit snacks? Now, you can feel happy about giving your kids this sweet treat. Stonyfield’s new organic fruit snacks are made using real fruit and vegetable juice and are free from artificial flavors, preservatives and GMOs. And they are shaped like cows too!

We excited to receive a delivery of the fruit snacks and we loved both the strawberry and mixed berry! They taste great and have a great consistency too!

Wouldn’t these treats be fun to add to your Halloween party goody bags? I think they would be a hit!

 

This post was written in partnership with Stonyfield – all opinions are my own.

How to Reduce Waste this School Year

How to Reduce Waste this School Year

Back-to-school time is a lot like Christmas—there’s excitement, stress, and a lot of buying. Most parents with school-aged children have spent a small fortune on school supplies and snacks at the beginning of the year only to discover a mountain of barely-used pencils and notebooks at the end of the year—not to mention a car littered with fruit snack wrappers. As parents, we lead by example, and the practices we employ today will rub off on our kids. Here are 4 simple ways to reduce waste this school year and set a green example for your kids.

#1 Avoid Buying in Bulk
Those bulk packages of pens, notebooks, snacks, and juice boxes are tempting, but the truth is that many of these products are sold cheaply in bulk because they’re unhealthy, cheaply made, or don’t follow environmentally-friendly productions standards. Instead, compile a list of everything you need based on all your kids’ school supply sheets and look for supplies that are made from recycled materials or that can be recycled or refilled later. As far as snacks, shopping locally for healthy fruits and veggies and setting aside a couple hours a week to bake a batch of granola or whole grain muffins to send the school will ensure that your kids eat healthy without creating a ton of trash.

#2 Use Resusable Lunchware
The average American family creates 4,320 pieces of unnecessary lunch waste, mostly plastic packaging. That adds up to a lot of trash in the landfills and ocean with a lot of dollars down the toilet. Instead of buying pre-packaged snacks and milks and sending lunches to school in brown bags and plastic baggies, purchase non-toxic, reusable lunch boxes and snack cups for your kids to take lunch to school in and send water and milk in stainless steel bottles. Throw in a cloth napkin and reusable cutlery and you’ll eliminate ALL of the 4,320 pieces of lunch waste your family would normally produce!

#3 Choose Minimally Packaged Products
When possible, buy notebooks and supplies that don’t come in plastic wrappers or extra boxes, which are totally unnecessary. Every piece of non-degradable plastic trash that you throw away ends up in a landfill or adding to the island of trash in the ocean.

#4 Green Your School Commute
A great, easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is by having your kids walk, bike, or ride the bus to school. Walking or biking will give kids a little exercise to boost their energy and sharpness before class and let them enjoy the outdoors at the same time. If safety is a concern where you live, walk or bike your kids to school instead of driving them, or see if another student who already walks to school has a parent who can tag along.

What are some simple ways your family has reduced waste during the school year?

3 Delicious Organic Lunchbox Lunches

Organic Lunches

School just started, however your student may be getting sick of seeing the standard PB&J in her lunchbox (or you’re sick of making it!) I know this happens in our family – Eben will want the same thing for lunch for a few weeks and then all of a sudden as I am packing lunch – he chimes in that he wants something different! If you are struggling for new lunch ideas, it’s time for a box-lunch upgrade! Read on for three new lunchbox standards that your child will be asking for again and again.

#1 Wraps and Burritos
Wraps are a great way to get a few servings of healthy vegetables into your kid’s day. I like to make extra chicken breast at dinner the night before and combine it with cucumbers, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots—you name it!—into a hearty wrap the next day. Make sure to include a healthy fat like avocado and a protein like garbanzo beans or feta cheese so that your student gets a balanced meal. Burritos are one of my all time favorite lunch foods and I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t like them, too! Create a healthy version by combining black beans and brown rice and a sprinkling of cheese. Send some avocado slices, lettuce, or tomatoes in a separate container and the meal is complete.

#2 Homemade Soup
Hearty, homemade soups and chillis are a great fall and winter lunch to send to school with your kid. The next time you make a big pot for the family, portion some out into jars or Pyrex containers and freeze or store the portions in the fridge. On lunch morning, simply heat up the soup and pack it in a thermos. Add a slice of seedy, whole grain bread and the meal is a winner!

#3 The Re-done Lunchable
Instead of serving your kids the highly-packaged, preservative-laden lunchables that come from the grocery store, create your own using healthy ingredients. Put together whole grain crackers and organic cheese with fruit and nuts or hummus with carrots, celery, pita bread, yogurt (right now – the Stonyfield Petite Creme’s are Eben’s fave!) and almonds for a more filling, much more nutritious alternative.

What are your favorite organic lunches to send to school with your little ones? What’s the new PB&J in your household?

7 Easy Steps to Start Living a Green Lifestyle Today

7 Ways to Start Living a Green Lifestyle Today
Starting to live a green lifestyle can be totally overwhelming – the first thing you think is you have to make a lot of changes all at once. Not true. You can start greening your lifestyle by taking small steps – one at a time. It is about changing your mindset and creating new routines. Once you start to incorporate these small steps into your daily, weekly and monthly routine, it will naturally just become a part of you life. Back to school time is the perfect time to get started, follow my 7 easy steps to living a green lifestyle and work your way through the list.1. Eliminate the Paper
Invest in a nice selection of cloth napkins, washcloths and towels. To keep things simple, we have washcloths that are only used to clean the bathrooms, ones to clean the kitchen and other areas of our home and ones to use in the shower. Each of these are different colors; white for the bathrooms, gray for the kitchen and yellow for the shower – I like to keep the shower washcloths separate from the cleaning ones.

2. Reusable Bag It
Buy a set of five reusable grocery bags and use them. My hands-down favorite reusable bags are Envirosax because they package five large reusable bags inside a pouch. We have a few of these – I keep one in my handbag, the mister keeps one in the front of his car, we have a set that we use in our RV and there is a set stowed in my car – in case the mister takes it to do marketing. This way we always have a set available and there is never a reason to have to choose paper or plastic?

3. Make it a Waste-Free Lunch
When you pack your lunch, your spouse’s lunch or your child’s lunchboxes, the idea is to get each lunchbox to be waste-free. When Eben was younger we loved the PlanetBox, it has everything needed to keep his lunch waste-free. Now, that he eats more – we are obsessed with our Wean Green Glass Cubes.

4. Green Clean It
The next time that you do your household-cleaning product shopping, pick up some green cleaners. These products work just as well as the conventional products without the toxic ingredients. Nothing is worse than gagging while cleaning – isn’t house cleaning bad enough by itself. 🙂 Green cleaners are not only great for the health of your family but the health of the environment too. Plus, if you wish you can make the green cleaners yourself.

5. Ditch the Bottled Water
This one is simple – DO NOT purchase bottled water. Instead, get each member of your household a great reusable water bottle – we prefer stainless steel. These are great for beverages on the go! And if you are worried about water quality, then purchase a filter for your kitchen faucet, a filtered water pitcher or a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter.

6. Green your Cup of Joe
Skip the Starbuck’s drive-thru window and brew your own organic coffee at home. It is much more affordable and when you pour yourself a cup or two into your reusable coffee mug, you help the environment too. Instead use that money to make a small environmental donation –  Charitable Donations Canada is a great place to start.

7. Recycling 101
If you aren’t already recycling, what are you waiting for? Most communities offer some type of recycling program, so start there. If you are too lazy to walk the recyclables to the recycling bin in your garage, set up a simple recycling center in your kitchen. Many kitchens have the space to neatly conceal all of your recyclables under a cabinet – I like this option, it would allow you to separate paper, cans, plastics and glass all in one space. Brilliant!

How about you, what easy steps have you taken to live a green lifestyle?
Do you have suggestions for readers who are just starting their green journey?

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