Here are five suggestions for helping the environment whilst making your life easier:
1. Have a “no junk mail’ sign on your letterbox
In Australia 8.2 billion articles of junk mail are produced each year with the majority being binned before being read. It is quite unbelievable how much junk mail I was receiving at home. I have now placed a ‘no junk mail’ sticker on the letterbox and the amount of junk mail received has dried up.
As the NSW government advises: ‘Putting mail into letterboxes with a [no junk mail sign] is not against the law but it is against the distribution industry’s Code of Practice. Distributors should respect people’s wishes not to receive this material. For a copy of the Code of Practice, write to the Distribution Standards Board, Level 10, 128 Exhibition St, Melbourne 3000, or email: [email protected]’.
Many people however do browse through some of the junk mail and find it useful to get an insight into new products and special offers. Fortunately retailer and service sites usually have copies of their brochures and special offers Online and there are also dedicated brochure and special offer sites such as Lasoo.
2. Receive statements and communication via email
Most of the major organizations now offer the option to receive communication via email rather than via snail-mail. Besides the obvious environmental advantages of not printing and distributing communication via paper there is also the added benefit that electronic communication is far more simple to store. For example, storing tax return evidence in electronic format makes searching for the information significantly quicker as well as electronic records consuming significantly less physical space than paper. Contact your bank, telephone provider, electricity supplier and others to get your communication via email (also why not lodge your tax return via e-tax rather than using paper).
3. Work from Home
There is a lot of talk about how to solve rising traffic levels (in Sydney this topic is very prevalent at present) and reduce the resultant pollution. One option which is hardly ever mentioned is to allow employees to work from home wherever possible. Many organizations are doing this very successfully using technology; Mckesson, a very large Amercian medical company, provides medical call centre services in Australia. Mckesson enjoys providing high Service Levels and low staff turnover as most staff work from home with a computer and telephone. Many of the staff never visit a physical office. The advantages for Mckesson are huge as they are not constrained to employing staff in a limited geographic region (if a person wants to work from a station/farm in the Outback that is fine) and staff satisfaction is higher than in comparable businesses.
Businesses in Australia have unfortunately, in general, been very slow to adopt remote working.
4. Read ebooks
There has been significant press coverage of the Apple iPad in recent weeks. One of the selling points of the iPad is that it may be used as an e-reader. Of course Apple is not the only seller of e-readers with the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader being the most established. Samsung and others are all working to introduce their e-readers soon.
E-readers are essentially Internet enabled devices which are well suited to reading content with their included screens (the Amazon Kindle has an excellent screen which makes text extremely simple to read). Ebooks (and newspapers, magazines etc.) are downloaded via the Internet and stored on the e-reader which is in turn used by the consumer to read the pages.
The negative environmental impacts of books is significant. E-reader and e-books offer substantial environmental benefits over purchasing paper books, newspapers and magazine.
5. Download Music
Digital music, in the form of downloadable files (e.g. MP3, AIFF, WAV, MPEG-4, AAC and Apple Lossless formats) , creates far less waste than music sold on physical media. A Compact Disc for example needs machinery to produce the physical materials (i.e. the plastic CD case, paper inserts, ink etc.), trucks and other means to transport the discs and machinery and consumables to copy the music to the discs. Besides the environmental benefits of purchasing and downloading music Online, there is generally a far larger collection of music available Online.