Busting Myths for World Environment Day

June 6 2022

Clara Phillips

In celebration of World Environment Day on June 5 2022, we present Myth Busters: Environment Edition, where we tackle some common misconceptions surrounding every-day work activities that have an environmental impact.

Distinguishing fact from fiction is often an unavoidable battle as we are constantly exposed to content from social media and news outlets. When it comes to information about the environment and climate change, knowledge and education are powerful tools for making meaningful change! We hope these points will help to educate about sustainable work practices that we can all benefit from.

I live too far away to travel to work by bike or public transportation, so I can’t reduce my environmental impact during my commute.

False! Carpooling is a very effective way to reduce commuting emissions, and apps like this make it easy to coordinate with other carpoolers. However, if carpooling is not an option for you, making sure your vehicle is well maintained will help reduce emissions. These include things like regularly checking tire pressure, changing your engine oil on time, and driving efficiently with slow accelerations and taking it easy on the brake pedal.

Turning my computer on “Sleep” mode barely saves any energy and is not worth my time.

False! By putting your computer to sleep mode when not in use, you are saving more energy than you think. Desktop computers burn about 100-200 watts of power, and laptops burn about 20-50 watts. By turning to sleep mode, you drastically reduce that energy usage down to about 1-2 watts (close to zero, which is what you would achieve if you had turned off your computer entirely!). And, it is convenient – when the computer is turned back on from sleep mode, you can immediately begin working right where you left off. You can save energy from other electronics as well by putting them in stand-by or sleep modes, where possible. Unplugging electronics entirely furthers your energy savings!

Paper is recyclable, therefore it doesn’t matter how much I use, as long as it ends up in the correct recycle bin.

False! While it is important to make sure that paper gets thrown in the correct paper recycle bin, reducing your paper usage has huge benefits for the environment. Paper comes at a cost: “wood products” are the reason for 10% of total deforestation. This is a problem, since worldwide deforestation accounts for approximately 12% of greenhouse gas emissions, and results in reduced biodiversity, and soil and water quality. Moreover, large amounts of water and energy are used in every step of paper production. From making the pulp (which requires burning trees!), to bleaching the paper, to packaging and transportation, one A4 sheet of paper uses as much as 20 litres of water. Make a pledge with your coworkers to go paperless wherever you can!

Packing a waste-free lunch is a hassle.

True… but! We have some tips to make it easier and to stretch your environmental impact:

  • Pack snacks that already come with their own compostable or edible packaging, like bananas, oranges, and apples!
  • Make extra food for dinner throughout the week. Easily and quickly throw leftovers in a reusable container for lunch the next day.
  • Learn how to pack salad into one jar.
  • Scan your fridge for lunch items to pack, and try to use up older food before it goes bad! Get in the habit of rotating older food to the front of your fridge so you can see what you should be using first.
  • Use glass or dishwasher-safe plastic containers that are easy to throw in the dishwasher when you get home.
  • Leave silverware in your office and wash them right after eating so that they are ready to use the next day.
  • If you have a favourite packaged snack, don’t deprive yourself! Buy in bulk and transfer to smaller containers. Not only is it cheaper, but you eliminate waste from individual, single-serving bags.

I want to reduce my meat intake, but vegetarian lunches are too boring.

False! Check out these nutritious and flavourful vegetarian and vegan-friendly lunches, and easy one-jar salad ideas.

I have to throw out my coffee cup in the garbage.

Partially true! While the coffee cup must go in the trash, take a few seconds to remove the carboard sleeve (which can go in the paper bin) and the lid (which is plastic recycle).

Anything food-soiled must go in the garbage.

False… if there is a compost bin. Any food-soiled paper product (napkins, plates, coffee filters, etc.)  can go in the compost (along with food scraps). If there is no compost bin, these food-soiled items go in the garbage. Any wax-coated or plastic-coated paper products are always garbage. Learn more here.

West Park completes an annual waste audit executed by a third party to evaluate and documents the effectiveness of our waste diversion system, ensuring our commitment to waste management strategies. In collaboration with our waste hauler, we continually monitor and evaluate waste streams for materials that can be diverted from waste to recycling streams, saving approximately 33% of waste from the landfill. We are committed to adhering to the ‘3 R’s Hierarchy” to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and are continually looking for opportunities to innovate or improve our waste diversion, such as through proper signage and staff education. If you have any ideas or concerns you’d like to address, please get in touch!

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