Thursday, March 31, 2005

What do we do about it, really?

Yesterday, I wrote about problems in the world as listed in the MEA report. Today I'm having the feeling that my closing paragraph was a bit glib. It's true that we have options and responsibility, but I'm trying to think of practical things a small business can do. My ideas so far:

  • Buy sensibly. Before buying something, consider—seriously—factors such as energy usage, amount of resources consumed in its production and distribution, and whether I need it.
  • Work sensibly. Don't travel to a client's site if I get the same or better result working online. If I do travel, consider the resource/energy/environmental cost in my decision as to transportation mode. Don't print everything out. Recycle.
  • Be a good citizen. Become educated on issues, and vote thoughtfully.

What does that mean in practice? While this may seem trivial, to me it means lots of online work (i.e., not presuming a face-to-face meeting is always—or even often—necessary), being frugal in deciding to print out something, and using recycled paper as much as I can. It means thinking about riding the bus to local meetings rather than driving, if I can make it work reasonably. It means borrowing rather than buying books I want to read but don't need to keep forever (local libraries and inter-library loan work well).

In essence, it means minimizing the inflow and outflow of material or energy except perhaps that which will be reused elsewhere (e.g., library books). It puts no direct restriction on the transfer of information. Hopefully, it puts no direct limitation on the transfer of money. :-)

I think that list may be too short; new ideas might help. If you are in a small business, what do you do in your business to help the environment?

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