I visited China last year and couldn’t believe how terrible the air pollution was in the city of Xi’an. Walking outdoors felt like being in a room full of smoke and gas fumes. My travel companions and I were forced to wear masks at times and it was a sad reminder that we have a long way to go to in saving our planet.
I wondered why China’s pollution wasn’t being treated as an international disaster. Its industrial output is the second biggest in the world, manufacturing goods for many countries, including the U.S. While that may be benefiting economies, the air pollution must have a huge impact on the environment and health of the people there.
April is Earth Month so being green is on the news agenda. Just last week the United Nations launched the Decade of Sustainable Energy for All (2014-2024), an initiative aimed at promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency worldwide.
The United States is the second-largest single consumer of energy in the world but thankfully there’s evidence that people are increasingly becoming more environmentally aware. For example, the Energy Efficiency Indicator Survey 2013 found that people running buildings are “paying a lot more attention” to energy efficiency, with interest increasing by 116% since 2010.
We all have a responsibility. There are simple, small changes we can all make in our lives and at work in order to be greener, including:
- Go local
Have sustainability at the core of everything you do. For example, when picking a vacation, consider whether your trip supports the local community in the destination you’re visiting. You might want to avoid the all-inclusive resort next time and dine in the local restaurants, buy from local food producers and shops, and utilize local guides.
- Go paperless
Do you use the printer too much in your office? I used to feel like I needed to bring paper copies of notes and other documents into meetings. Then I started at my new workplace and noticed my co-workers tended to display documents on their laptops or tablet devices during meetings instead. Printing paper suddenly felt quite old-school and I now rarely need a printer.
- Go home
Do you or your coworkers take lengthy commutes to the office? You could save all that gas, money and time – and work at home a couple of days a week instead. Thanks to the digital age, it might be time to shake up the traditional model of 9 to 5 in the office and consider telecommuting instead. I work from home twice a week and I couldn’t imagine anything else now.