Linda Bortolus is on a mission. She was brought up in a family where conserving resources is a way of life. As part of SAP, she has been at the lead of a number of sustainability measures and projects. Don’t think that means she is a highly-placed member of the executive staff. She is another worker bee, like you and me. She is a great example of how much power that even you, as a worker bee, have to drive change and make a difference. Consider the thought of being able to save the world and doing it right where you are.
Here are 5 1/2 ways to save the world from your cubicle.
1) Redesign spreadsheets and other templates to fit the page
It seems like such a simple thing, right? Well, Linda Bortolus thought about that when looking at the spreadsheets she used – which of course were used by others as well. When they were printed, there were huge, wide margins and Linda felt this was not only inefficient, but a waste of paper.
She didn’t have to be a spreadsheet design specialist, only someone who recognized a possibility and worked with others to get the templates redesigned.
Do you have some shared templates that could be better reconfigured?
2) Handouts on a stick – does it REALLY need to by printed?
Then Linda took the next step – don’t print it out! She was one of the drivers that moved TechEd material off the printed page and on to a flash stick. Attendees still received all the materials and didn’t have to lug around pounds of paper for a couple of days. Not to mention where most of those papers ended up when the attendees go back home.
Have you considered what paperwork you have that doesn’t need to be on paper?
3) Replace plastic and paper with reusable water bottles and cups
Another idea used at TechEd was to get people to use aluminum water bottles to keep hydrated, instead of individual plastic bottles of water or paper cups. Those aluminum bottles travel back to the office for use there as well. And for those hot beverages at the office, Linda encourages people to use their own mug which saves on paper cups at work.
How could you cut back on using individual plastic bottles of water and going through multiple paper cups each day?
4) Look where you throw it – is it trash or can you recycle?
Get a clue about the blue – the blue recycling bins! It always helps to properly dispose of things and especially to recycle when you can. If takes just a conscious moment to consider what is in your hand before dropping it into a receptacle; make sure it goes into the right one. And don’t forget about that in the copy room or at your desk – a lot of what gets in the trash could have been put in the blue recycle bin.
Is recycling a habit for you?
5) How much is too much for tissues, towels, and napkins?
How many paper towels do you really need to dry your hands? Even if you are a messy eater, do you really need all those napkins? There are any numbers of paper products that we use without much thought and usually grab great gobs of paper to use. Certainly, if you need them, take what you need. But, if you are going to save the world – how about a few less napkins for that coffee?
Please use a tissue when coughing, but save a tissue or napkin when you can.
5 1/2) Try and don’t be shy – mention it to others
Try doing it; even a half-hearted attempt at conservation can make a huge difference for all of us. And you can be a leader, without being a boss. Linda Bortolus, just another worker bee like you and me, spoke up and others took notice. Her suggestions make sense, and save money as well as save the world. She is genuinely passionate about sustainability and by just noticing what could be different has been able to influence changes by speaking up.
Don’t think this means that you have to find a podium or schedule a conference room to make a difference. Sometimes leading by example is easiest, but to make a real impact, don’t be afraid to speak up. When you hear co-workers utter “What would Linda say?” you can understand how your influence can change attitudes, can change behavior, can change the world.