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One-Thing Thursday Archive
Office
One thing you can do...
Consider the following at work and at home:
 

Use reusable plates and silverware in the office
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July 1, 2010
Purchase durable supplies to keep at your desk for potlucks, bake sales, social events and your lunch. Although it uses a bit of water to clean these items, the impact on the environment is much less than disposable items.
 
Talk to your administrator and the person in your division who purchases items for parties and ask them to make this the new practice. DAS will save money on supplies and garbage fees.
 
And, folks will learn quickly to bring reusable dishes if they want to partake in social events from now on!

Bring a reusable container and drink water from the drinking fountain.
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June 24, 2010
DAS replaces the filters in drinking fountains in all its buildings every month.
 
Many options exist for reusable water containers. Here are a few ideas:
  • Thermos - the thermal qualities of a thermos can keep drinks hot or cold longer.
  • Stainless steel bottles - stainless steel is lightweight; these bottles often come with keychain hooks to attach to a backpack or purse; they do not keep beverages hot or cold.
  • BPA-free* portable water bottles - these come in a variety of colors and patterns, and often have flip tops or "camelback" spouts to prevent leaks. *Bisphenol A.

Reduce the amount of plastic bottles sold in vending machines and cafeterias
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June 10, 2010
Even though the DAS Facilities Division coordinates the state's vending agreement with the Commission for the Blind (the entity that oversees the contractors that provide vending machines and cafeterias in state buildings), your voice matters.
 
Through your purchases, let the contractors know that you want to see more sustainable choices, like aluminum. Ninety-percent of soda cans are now made from recycled aluminum or paper cartons. DAS Facilities will do what it can with the contract, but money talks more than anything. The folks who buy the products hold the most power.

Reduce the number of plastic containers in our buildings
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June 3, 2010
Why?
 
Studies show that water and other beverages in plastic containers may not be safe or desirable. Chemicals in the plastics can leak into the water. These chemicals may cause a variety of health problems such as cancers and an increased risk of miscarriage, and interfere with the body’s hormonal system.
 
The manufacture of plastic bottles uses large amounts of energy and generates toxic pollutants. Plus, although these plastics may be recycled, millions of plastic bottles end up in landfills each year.
 
For each gallon of water that is bottled, an additional two gallons of water are used in processing. Given the wide availability of safe, low-cost tap water, and the wide array of appropriate and cost-competitive filters and other equipment to dispense drinking water, switching to tap water saves consumers money and dramatically reduces environmental impacts, including greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and waste generation. 
 
Sources:
  Responsible Purchasing Network  
  Suite 101 

Establish an annual "spring cleaning" day to purge your paper files
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May 27, 2010
Records that have reached the end of their retention period and are not archival can be considered obsolete. Staff should purge obsolete records on a regular basis. Regularly purging files facilitates the retrieval of information as there are fewer files to search, reduces the risk of litigation loss, and reduces the risk of unfavorable audit findings. 
 
Tips for a successful spring cleaning day:
  • Make the event fun for staff. Let them listen to music softly; bring in treats to share.
  • Give staff permission to take a break from routine work duties in order to work on their purging project. 
  • Call the DAS Custodial Program a few days ahead of time to request empty blue barrels for general recycling and a red barrel for shredding. However, ensure that staff understands when something needs shredding. Red barrels cost more and shredded paper cannot be recycled as efficiently, so use red barrels only when neccessary.
  • Don't forget to check the formal Records Retention Schedule for your divisions' files. Ensure that staff have relevant retention schedules handy and understand how to interpret them.
  • If you plan to send files to the State Records Center (Archives Division), work with them ahead of time to obtain any necessary numbers or forms.
Once you've purged your paper files, set up the electronic filing system featured in the May 20 One-Thing Thursday. Not only will that save paper, but it will begin to reduce the number of paper files to purge. Eventually, spring cleaning day will apply to electronic files instead of paper files.

Store documents and files electronicaly, rather than in paper files.
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May 20, 2010
 
Consider saving internet articles and resources to your computer drive, rather than printing. That way, the items are backed up on the server and may be easier to find later. You could also convert documents to an Adobe file, if you have that program available, and save it to your drive as a PDF.
 
In addition to the paper savings, here are some other benefits of electronic storage: 
  • Frees up office space for a more valuable use
  • Improves staff efficiency
  • Eliminates paper storage and any associated costs
  • Helps maintain documents that might otherwise be destroyed in a disaster
  • Improves document security
  • Reduces overhead costs for printing
Please note: the department pays for all items that each division stores electronically. While it's important to save paper, it's also important not to store unnecessary items. Please use discretion in what you save in your electronic files, as well as in any remaining paper files.

Let technology help you save paper.
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May 13, 2010
  • Use "print preview" to verify formatting, rather than printing first.
  • Use spell-check and grammar-check onscreen rather than printing a copy to review. Word has a feature to highlight misspelled words and grammar errors as you type.
  • Avoid leaving "widows" and "orphans" -- single words or sentences that print on a page. Instead, adjust your margins a bit smaller or wordsmith it until the text fits on the previous page.
  • Print two pages to a side, when possible. This is a great way to print handouts for meetings or large documents. The DAS Sustainability Program prints this way all the time. It makes the writing smaller, but it's generally OK for most people.
  • Change your default setting to double-sided printing on personal printers, shared network printers, copy machines, fax machines and any other equipment that can duplex.
  • Change your default margins to 0.75 inches for top, bottom, left and right sides in Word, Outlook and Excel.
If you know of other innovative ways that technology can save paper, share with your co-workers or the DAS Sustainability Program.
 
And if you need help to change any of these settings on your computer, talk with co-workers or the TSC help desk. 

Order a small amount of sate letterhad at a time
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May 6, 2010
Order a small amount of state letterhead at a time.
 
In January, the state of Oregon will have a new Governor. Since the Governor's name appears on official letterhead, do not order more than you need right now. Otherwise, you'll have expensive scratch paper for your office come next February. 
 
Another option is to use the department’s Templates for a black and white version of your letterhead. While it won’t print in color, many times black and white is all you need. Save the official, color letterhead for documents in which it is required.

Use the Internet to find phone numbers
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April 8, 2010
Spring is the time of year when we receive new phone books. This year, consider declining a book and use the Internet instead. Often, the phone company updates numbers online first, so they are more recent and accurate. Plus, you can avoid the paper consumption, recycling, and space consumed by the big book. 
 
Dexknows.com displays the same information online that appears in the phone book, and with very specific search capabilities. It even has white and yellow pages.
 
The following instructions take less than two minutes to opt out and not receive a phone book:
1. Visit http://dexknows.com/green/.
2. Click on Order More/Stop Delivery.
3. Enter your ZIP code and click on Proceed to Select Your Dex.
4. Scroll down to Proceed to Select Your Dex.
5. Enter your name and home information. In the section that says, Select Your Dex, click on the down arrow key and select 0.
6. Complete the form with other information and click Submit.

To discontinue receiving the Yellow Pages or other books, go to: http://www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org/. Click on the Opt Out link near the top of the page, enter your information and follow the instructions.

Comingle your recyclables
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April 1, 2010
Beginning today, employees can place CLEAN paper, plastics and metals into the same blue recycle barrels. (Note a few exceptions below). Signs at the barrels will help guide you on the new system. Please place items in the barrels accordingly. Exceptions:
  1. You can now add plastics and metals to the mixed paper barrel, but the items must be rinsed and free of any food or particulates.
  2. Corrugated cardboard continues to need its own barrel and should not be placed with the mixed paper.
 
More information:

Shrink your margins to save paper.
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March 25, 2010
The default for margins in Word and Outlook is 1.25 inches for the left and right and 1 inch for the top and bottom. However, DAS allows as low as 0.75 inches for its standard. Reducing the margins could save half an inch on each side of a page. But does such a small change add up?
 
According to a study done by Penn State's Green Destiny Council, reducing margins to 0.75 inches on all sides results in a total reduction of paper by 4.75 percent. Using these more efficient margins on a ton of paper would save 19 reams of paper or the equivalent of 1.14 trees. In 2009, DAS spent around $700,000 to purchase paper. If all staff reduced margins on documents, DAS could save around $30,000 a year. 
 
Instructions to change margins in Word:
  • Select the File menu
  • Scroll to Page Setup
  • Locate the margin fields in the middle of the window and adjust them to 0.75 inches for top, bottom, left and right
  • Click the Default button on the bottom left
  • Click Yes - this allows Word to change all future documents to the new setting
More information on changing margins 

Verify the number of attendees at meetings before making photocopies
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March 18, 2010
Try not to make more copies of handouts or agendas for meetings than you need. Better yet, avoid the use of paper completely and project the information on a screen.
 
The DAS Sustainability Program conducted research that reveals it's more economical to display meeting materials on a SMART Board or screen if you have 20 or more attendees. However, if you have fewer than 20 attendees, the carbon footprint of the paper does not offset the electrical use; it's more sustainable and costs less to use paper.

Avoid overly packaged items when purchasing foods, toys and other consumables
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March 11, 2010
Watch how consumables are packaged and avoid overly packaged items when purchasing food, toys, office supplies and other consumables.

Participate in the Charitable Fund Drive
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October 1, 2009
In the fall of each year, state employees may participate in a combined charitable giving campaign. The professionally-run drive allows employees to tailor their giving to the causes and organizations they wish to support. Employees can select from hundreds of charitable organizations from around Oregon. The drive provides an efficient and easy way for state employees to donate to charity.
An employee can give through fund-raising activities sponsored by his or her agency, by a one-time gift, or through the convenience of monthly payroll deductions.
 
New this year, employees can support sustainability by using a secure, online system that displays information about the charitable organizations and allows people to make an electronic pledge.
 
A year-round Web site reports on the many activities of participating charities, giving employees an opportunity to see their money at work helping the needy, improving the environment, and making Oregon a better place.
 
Look for future announcements as the Charitable Fund Drive gets under way in DAS. For more information, visit http://ecfd.oregon.gov/.

Attend the Health and GREEN potluck
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September 24, 2009
The event will occur on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on the lawn of the Executive Building (or in Conference Rooms A and B if it rains). The Executive Building's Green Team and the DAS Wellness Committee are jointly sponsoring the event.
 
The potluck will be a waste-free event with only recycled-content napkins provided, so plan to bring your reusable tableware. Please contact Yvonne Hanna or Summer Warner for more information about the potluck.
 
More information about Waste-Free DAS and tips for successful waste-free events: http://sustainability.oregon.gov/DAS/FAC/SUST/waste_free.shtml.

Join a Green Team
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August 27, 2009
DAS continues to promote green buildings that minimize impact on the environment. But the work doesn't stop once we design and build a facility. It takes a lot of dedication to maintain a high performance building — dedication from the tenants and operations and maintenance crews. This explains why DAS hopes to start or expand Green Teams in all its buildings. Green Teams play an active role to implement new programs, track progress and communicate in state buildings.
 
The Executive Building launched a Green Team in March 2009. The team has many goals including a combined Wellness and Green Team potluck on Sept. 30 (stay tuned for details), and to help DAS move to "waste free" social events. In addition, the team will play an active role to implement energy conservation strategies that develop from quarterly night audits. 
 
Other buildings such as General Services and the Print Plant don't have active Green Teams yet. If you’d like to start a Green Team or join an existing Green Team, please contact Elin Shepard at the contact information below.

Fax and copy only when necessary.
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August 20, 2009
Sometimes an electronic file works just as well as a hard copy. Many copiers also serve as scanners that allow a user to send a pdf to a computer or directory folder. If you must make copies, make all you need in one batch. This allows the machine to power down between uses.
 
Copy machines and fax machines use the most electricity when they copy, duplex, staple, etc. — all the features we've come to expect. When we batch jobs together, it uses less energy, generates less heat and saves on wear and tear.
 
Office equipment uses 4 to10 percent of a building’s total energy consumption, which could total as high as $1,000,000 in DAS buildings each biennium. The state’s new resource conservation policy requires that staff turn off copiers and printers at night. Nearly all devices power down at night (which is all that's required for faxes), but even in a low-demand mode, machines consume up to 25 percent of full capacity. If someone turns off office machines completely each night, that’s the best yet.

Recycle CDs, DVDs and cases
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August 13, 2009
DAS buildings can recycle CDs, DVDs and jewel cases. Garten Services asks us to use a simple process:
  • Create a collection container out of an old box with a clear, plastic liner. 
  • Place broken, outdated and non-reusable CDs, DVDs or cases in the container.
  • When the box is full, ask DAS custodians to place the plastic bag on top of a full paper barrel for Garten to pick up. 
Garten takes the items to Quantum Resource Recovery on a future run.

Talk with the custodians in your building.
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July 23, 2009
Over the summer, all of DAS' custodians will transition to dayshifts. Each week, the custodians in five buildings will make the move to days. By now, this transition has occurred in many of our buildings. In addition to saving energy and operating costs, moving to dayshifts will give you the opportunity to interact with the previously unseen workforce that puts the "shine" on state buildings. Our custodial workers contribute to our success as an agency, and now we have an opportunity to welcome them and thank them for all they do.
 
Take a few moments to meet your building's custodians.

Print smarter
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July 16, 2009
The average U.S. office worker goes through 10,000 sheets of copy paper a year. Make it a habit to print on both sides or use the back side of old documents for faxes, scrap paper or drafts. Make it a practice to buy paper with a higher percentage of post-consumer recycled content.
 
State agencies can buy 100-percent post-consumer paper through Office Max, called Aspen 100. The Facilities Division started to purchase this paper several years ago. They report no additional paper jams in printers or copiers, and very high satisfaction from staff. 
 
Some of the pulp used to make Aspen 100 comes from mills in Oregon – the same mills that buy the state’s recycled paper from Garten Services (the contractor who collects recycled paper from state buildings in Salem and Portland). When we buy this product, we close the loop of reuse and recycling.

Reuse name tags and name tents from training sessions and meetings
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April 30, 2009
If you organize an event:
  • Play an icebreaker instead of providing name tags. This works well if the size of the group is small.
  • Ask people to bring name tag holders that they've collected from other conferences, and fill them with standard name tags.
  • If you want to provide your own name tags, don't laminate them.
  • Collect name tags at the conclusion of an event by placing visible drop-boxes at exits.
 
If you attend an event:
  • Ask the coordinator to encourage attendees to bring name tags and name tents from previous events. They don't all need to match.
  • Use your business card or ID badge as a name tag.

Carpool with co-workers to common meetings or locations
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March 26, 2009
Often several staff from the same department or building travel to the same meeting.  Rather than drive your own vehicles, carpool.  It allows for time to prepare and debrief from the meeting, and saves fossil fuel use.  Other times, co-workers travel to different meetings in out-of-town locations.  With a little creative thinking about logistics, you could ride together to save the state money on another motor pool car or travel reimbursement.
 
DAS has begun testing software solutions to help staff easily connect with each other to carpool to meetings.  Stay tuned for more information.

Share your periodicals.
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March 19, 2009
I subscribe to a newspaper from a favorite vacation spot. Instead of recycling the newspaper after we read it, my husband takes it to a co-worker who gives it to his mother. We started this process a year ago and she recently sent a card to thank us. In the card, she told us that after she reads the newspaper, she gives it to another family member. After this family member reads it, she takes the newspaper to a nursing home for the residents to enjoy. After receiving her card, I feel like I make a difference by choosing reuse instead of recycling.
 
-Submitted by Mary Mattison, State Procurement Office

Conserve office supplies.
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March 12, 2009
DAS encourages reuse of office products before buying new. This includes file folders, paper clips, binders, sheet protectors, boxes, and any other material in decent condition. Before ordering new items, talk to your office manager about where the stash of used office material resides in your area. If a stash does not exist, create one. If you need to order supplies, take advantage of the reusable tote program through Office Max. When you sign up for this program, Office Max brings supplies in reusable totes rather than cardboard boxes. They even pick up recyclable packaging from the order when they bring the next shipment. Office Max will reuse the recyclable material you place in the tote, in a future shipment. 
 
For more information, contact Jim Chatfield at Office Max, JimChatfield@officemax.com.

Remove Clutter
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March 5, 2009
Remove clutter. As you clean up, you may find things at work to send to Surplus or things at home to donate to charity. In today’s economy, it’s a great way to help neighbors – at work or home. You reduce stress and mess, and other people reuse your items and save money. 
 
At work, we send nearly everything to Surplus for resale to other agencies, sectors of government, and even the public. At home, many charities will take items to sell or distribute to members of the community. Some charities, like Teen Challenge, will pick up items from your home to sell in their store.   
 
For more information, visit the Surplus Web site: http://oregon.gov/DAS/SSD/SURPLS/index.shtml 

Hire interns
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February 19, 2009
As we celebrate the birthdays of Presidents Lincoln and Washington, it’s a great time to think about education and its significance in our communities. A strong community places value in the educational system. One way for students to learn beyond the classroom is an internship. 
 
Discuss the possibility of an internship in your work unit. Internships allow students to learn about state government while completing their education, and offset workload within the department. DAS coordinates the internOregon program, which has placed 11 students in DAS divisions since last summer. Interns either receive pay or volunteer (not paid), and offer a variety of expertise. DAS interns from internOregon have completed major projects around diversity, FMLA, financial analysis and marketing. 
 
More information: http://oregon.gov/DAS/HR/internoregon.shtml.

Turn off the water while soaping up during hand washing.
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January 15, 2009
It will save gallons of water, takes almost no effort, and is something we can do at home or work.
 
Submitted by a DAS employee
 

Use rechargeable batteries
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December 28, 2008
The sale of batteries is at an all-time high over the holiday season when people stock up for toys and gadgets. Batteries contain many hazardous and corrosive components. Although batteries are not officially designated as hazardous material, consider minimizing the number of batteries in your home and office. The environmental benefits of reusing batteries again and again more than offsets the small amount of electricity used during the charging process. You can buy rechargeables for all the common types of batteries, as well as some specialty batteries. If rechargeable batteries are not your thing, most garbage companies offer a recycling program for regular batteries. The process breaks down the raw materials (chemicals and plastics), allowing the components to be used for new batteries.

Bring a reusable coffee mug to work.
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October 2, 2008
Single-serve cups and to-go containers from nearby restaurants are the number one item in the garbage of DAS buildings. Buy a coffee mug or start bringing lunch to work in reusable containers. When you eat lunch out, ask your co-workers to place a large order (which is more efficient than many separate orders), or consider walking to the restaurant to eat there instead of bringing waste back to the office.