One of the many green amenities I offer at my properties is composting. When a new company moves into one of my buildings they get a beautiful living orchid and a compost bin to get them started in the right direction.
Since the average American tosses away 4.5 pounds of trash per day, but approximately 25% could be compost. Composting is a critical step in reducing the garbage sent to landfills, which produce methane gas 72% more powerful than carbon dioxide. What a difference we could make to our environment if we could all do something as simple as compost our biodegradable materials. Compostable materials tend to way more than other items that go in the garbage so if your garbage is weighed at each pickup separating it out can possibly save a lot off your bottom line.
Here are some basic steps on starting your office compost program:
- Find a local provider in your area. Google or your local municipality works well to come up with local providers. I am lucky to have an amazing vendor in Seattle called Cedar Grove Compost.
- Reach out to like-minded people and operations to meet with the vendor and discuss how the project would operate. Questions to think about: How many pickups per week, where the bins will be located for pickup, cost, janitorial staff pickup and any challenges to the building layout for service.
- Order the bins that each tenant will need. Amazon offers bins and compostable liners of all sizes, a large bin with a lid for a bigger tenant or smaller stainless steel or plastic kitchen counter bins for coffee grounds and banana peels.
- EDUCATE THE MASSES! Work with your compost vendor, janitorial, and the others that are passionate to educate everyone on what goes in what bin. Plastic is NOT biodegradable! Napkins ARE!
- Launch your program! Continue to monitor use and any contamination. Periodic educational sessions are always great to educate new employees and companies that transition through the property.
For those that have followed the transformation of one of my building lobbies, here is the final product. The overall project consisted of new paint, brighter lights, new furniture from Stylex MG Collection, a cocktail table from Room and Board, Shaw Carpet bound into a rug, and the rearranging of some existing plants. The focal point, a wall of colored canvases bought at the local art store and painted with Benjamin Moore’s Natura Interior Paint cost under $300. The total ecofriendly project came in under $10,000 which was a huge win and a huge improvement.
Energy efficient lighting is literally changing overnight. Previously LED bulbs only contained one light that streamed light pretty directly to the ground and looked streaky. The newer LED bulbs contain three lights which allows the light to span out further. Look at the amazing difference in my elevators. If you were hesitant to use LED lights in the past, fear no more!
Keeping in line with our recent article on fabulous green products and sustainable services you have to check out the best laptop bag on the market. I was forced to purchase a new carrying case after the Dell bag that came with my laptop literally fell apart. Before I went out and purchased something brand new I did do some searching on Craiglist.org and Ebay.com for something vintage that would work. While I did find some amazing used bags on those sites, I just couldn’t find what I needed to standup to the Seattle rain or that was my price range.
The messenger bag I ended up purchasing is called, Daily Grind, and is made by Patagonia from 100% recycled polyester that feels like a nice canvas. This bag is super lightweight with lots of storage compartments to keep things tidy and accessible. I thought I wouldn’t be fond of the flap that flips over the top and buckles, but it may be my favorite part. It keeps my papers and computer dry from Seattle’s never-ending drizzle and the occasional snow with its water repellant finish called, Deluge(R) DWR. If you can believe it, this bag was only $69 and worth every cent. I highly recommend it to anyone in the market.
Economic growth and social and environmental responsibility have to go hand in hand in order for this world to prosper. I am a firm believer that we, as a society, can push economic growth and a healthier environment together through our purchasing power. A decent example is my purchasing of paper supplies for the office. For the last 6+ years I have only purchased paper made from 100% recycled paper and there used to only be one option, but because of the choices and where consumers choose to spend their money, we now have several options. The same goes for the disposable pens that inundate our landfills, there are now brands making writing pens that are fully recyclable and made out of recycled material. This is a small, simple example, but it shows how we can push our environment to change not necessarily through giant leaps, but rather gradual steps towards change.
The easiest way to do this is by supporting the vendors that are leading these changes is a great way to help. FedEx is a great example of a company moving towards electric vehicles, reuseable and recyclable packaging. During a recent conversation with a colleague I heard that Staples was making push into the sustainable market with their EcoEasy line of office products, including a very cool bamboo flash drive. They, like many others, are making the push at a corporate level to improve their day-to-day operations with rooftop solar energy systems, an energy-efficient fleet of vehicles, and waste reduction. Not to be left out Office Depot and Walmart also have sustainable products for your workplace, but unfortunately not as easy to locate on their websites.
Living Aware Daily, will keep you posted on the office products we use and love, as well as any new sustainable companies and initiatives. Thanks for reading and thinking twice about what products you choose to support with your hard-earned cash!
New Kinnikinnick plants and mulch from our compost.
I am so happy to show off the new garden space next to my building that has been an eyesore for years. Hundreds of people who are occupants in my Building, their guests, and tourists had to past this unsightly sliver of earth that was infested with litter, weeds, and unsavory behaviors in order to make their way to the famous Pike Place Market. I started working on changing this little area in 2009 and met more red tape than I could have ever imagined. But because of the gracious donation of native plants and mulch from my landscape vendor, assistance from some city organizations, and a very determined Real Estate Manager, we have reinvented this space into a small garden. I hope, as with all my posts, that this inspires you to cleanup an area near your office or home to make it a place of health and pride, like my new favorite little space.
Before with briars, weeds and garbage.
Here are the before and after photos of my $3.99 desk from Goodwill. The desk is not only a perfect fit for the space but it is solid, with clean lines and a warm wood hue. The patina on the surface from being used gives it great character and the modern, no frills chair, also recycled, is a perfect fit. I couldn’t be happier.
I cannot tell you how elated we are to have found this gem at, Ballard Goodwill, for the Living Aware office. This simple, solid, well-constructed piece of furniture was $3.99. I am not kidding, $3.99. This desk is an absolute PERFECT fit and we have been able to turn someone else’s trash into our treasure. We will show you how to freshen this workspace up into something even better with a few carefully selected accessories as we chronicle our office buildout with the incredible, Prime Asset Group.
While we all love shiny new things, studies show that we appreciate items that we put a little elbow grease in to make our own. Pick up a used wood chair for your desk or office at Goodwill and give it a fresh coat of paint from Benjamin Moore’s Natura product line. If you must use a spray paint check out Krylon’s H2O Latex Spray Paint.
Decorate your office with photos of your loved ones in used but refreshed photo frames from a secondhand store. I also love picking up souvenir postcards of my favorite paintings from art museum visits. It is a great way to support the museums, have a memory of your trip, and jazz up a dull bulletin board. I can always find a mason jar or vase for a different and interesting way to hold your pens and pencils. One of my favorite DIY projects for the office or at home is taking advantage of used fabrics and turning it into throw pillows. The pillow can add comfort and a pop of color to your boring office chair.
We recently completed a successful lobby upgrade on the smallest budget known to man. The down economy, and the fact that this lobby is housed in a building slated to be demoed sometime in the next five years were all factors to the nonexistent budget. The Building was constructed in 1983 and has had very few upgrades since it’s debut. The major tenant occupying 90% of the facility moved on to a new spot sending this property into a full lease-up. If we were going to be successful in selling short-term leases at a decent rate something had to be done about the dark and dated lobby.
We darkened the chestnut-brown doors with a nearly black paint and lightened the walls with a Zero-VOC color from Benjamin Moore, called Designer White. We added a series of simple canvases painted with various shades of blue, also sourced from Benjamin Moore colors, as inexpensive pieces of art. The lighting was switched out to with a high-efficiency fixture in a cooler color. The carpets were cleaned with green solutions and machines provided by our amazing environmentally friendly janitorial company. We had Shaw Eco Solution Q carpet tiles bound into an area rug to anchor the seating area. The furniture has yet to arrive but the space is already a lot more fresh and airy.