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AnswerConnect has always advocated going paperless. You’re hard-pressed to find a printer in our office. (Well, there is one. It’s tucked away and used so rarely the sound startles nearby associates.) We prefer the easy access and improved collaboration of Google Docs and other cloud-based software. Then there’s the sense of satisfaction that comes with the huge decrease in our annual waste production.
So it was only a matter of time until we phased out paper bills. New clients are automatically enrolled into our paperless billing program, and we’re currently working on switching over all of our existing clients. Here are a couple reasons why you may love the new paperless billing as much as we do:
It’s much easier to organize bills on a computer desktop than on a wooden one. Paperless bills mean no more clutter. Take a look at your desk. It’s possible you’re a naturally organized person and your bills are stacked and filed neatly away. Or it takes fifteen minutes of digging through drawers to find a bill when you need it. Either way, no more bills accidentally ending up in the recycling bin or getting lost between the desk and the wall. Your bills are archived, organized and accessible from any location.
Paper makes up the largest percentage of municipal solid waste. In 2010, paper and paperboard made up 29% of municipal trash in the United States. Office buildings are responsible for a hefty portion with the average office worker using approximately 10,000 sheets of paper annually. We’ve done our best to reduce our contribution by virtually eliminating office paper, but generating monthly paper bills for thousands of clients adds up. Paperless billing felt like the next step.
AnswerConnect strives to be a green office. We’ve switched to non-disposable dishes in our break room and energy-efficient bulbs in our light fixtures. We’re thrilled to make another change that is environmentally beneficial, cost-efficient and convenient for our clients. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or sending us an email to email@example.com.
0 comments | Posted by: Terri on April 13, 2012 | Categories:
On March 31st, at 10 a.m., AnswerConnect employees gathered in the parking lot of the Pelican Pub Brewery at Cape Kiwanda. We were joined by hundreds of other volunteers carrying buckets, old colanders for straining sand and plastic bags emblazoned with the SOLV logo to participate in the 2012 Oregon Beach Clean Up.
Twenty-eight years ago, Judy Hansen of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was shocked by a bear’s autopsy results. The bear’s stomach held the remains of 13 Styrofoam cups, likely the cause of death by starvation. Judy began to study the effects of plastic pollutants in natural habitats, and the annual Oregon Beach Clean Up took shape. The first year alone, 2,100 volunteers gathered 26 tons of trash from Oregon beaches. SOLV (Stop Oregon Litter and Vandalism) began coordinating the event in 1986, and it’s been going strong ever since.
As we drove to Cape Kiwanda we expected to spend the day huddled in rain, sifting through sand with cold fingers. Instead we were rewarded by mild weather and the occasional sunburst. The pint-sized and four-legged members of our team were able to play on the dunes as we kept an eye out for pieces of Styrofoam and tiny bits of plastic masquerading as sea shells.
“The weather was a pleasant surprise,” Donny Stevens, Assistant Manager, recalled. “It was more fun than work. We got to spend a day at the beach and meet our co-workers’ families, all while doing a something good for the environment.”
Our “hard work” resulted in three full bags of trash and one car door! We’re lucky to live so close to Oregon’s beautiful rugged beaches, and we’re proud to have done our part in keeping our home state litter-free.
AnswerConnect is always on the lookout for new volunteer opportunities in our community. We can’t wait for the next one!
If you are interested in getting involved, check out SOLV’s website for details on upcoming events, including a Japanese Tsunami Debris workshop.
0 comments | Posted by: Spencer on January 19, 2012 | Categories:
Earlier, we wrote about the 102, 826 gallons of gas AnswerConnect annually saves by enabling 272 of our employees to work from home. That seems like a lot of gasoline for one mid-sized company, but that’s merely one metric. How many cars does that keep from the waste stream? How does that lighten our company’s environmental impact?
Consider this quote from Energy and Equity by philosopher Ivan Illich (thanks to worldcarfree.net):
“The typical American male devotes more than 1,600 hours a year to his car. He sits in it while it goes and while it stands idling. He parks it and searches for it. He earns the money to put down on it and to meet the monthly installments. He works to pay for petrol, tolls, insurance, taxes and tickets. He spends four of his sixteen waking hours on the road or gathering resources for it. And this figure does not take account of the time consumed by other activities dictated by transport: time spent in hospitals, traffic courts and garages: time spent watching automobile commercials or attending consumer education meetings to improve quality of the next buy. The model American puts in 1,600 hours to get 7,500 miles: less than five miles an hour.”
Assuming one car per employee, let’s begin with the hard numbers.
Take 272 cars for each working-at-home employee and multiply that by 7,395 commuting-miles traveled (29 miles per day times 255 annual work days), and you get 2,011,440 annual commuting miles. Divide that number by the average lifespan of a vehicle, in miles (150,000 miles, according to Consumer Reports), to get 13.41 vehicles saved from the trash compactor or landfill.
Cool: 13.41 cars saved per year, simply by empowering 272 employees to work at home.
Even so, 13.41 feels less visceral than 102,826. File that number away for a sec while we unpack it.
Disposing of a car—not extracting its raw materials, not shipping them, not assembling them, not driving the car; just, you know, throwing it away in a landfill—doesn’t stop its pollutants from entering the water table, soil, people’s bodies or the atmosphere. Again, from worldcarfree.net:
On average, each dumped vehicle contains six litres of lubricating oils, three litres of fuel, five litres of cooling liquid and three litres of sulfuric acid. (1) …Disposing of the car [produces] 102 million cubic metres of polluted air.
Now we’re getting somewhere meaningful. Conservatively, we can estimate that annually saving 13.41 cars from the landfill saves 21.24 gallons of lubricating oil, 10.63 gallons of fuel, 17.71 gallons of coolant and 10.63 gallons of sulfuric acid from the landfill. That’s for just over 13 cars per year. I’m pretty certain I haven’t seen 10.63 gallons of sulfuric acid in my life (then again, I’m not a plumber or a phosphate fertilizer manufacturer).
The thing is, numbers are measures, and measures have real weight behind them, affecting real humans. Enabling 272 employees to work from home isn’t a revolutionary act; it isn’t even technically difficult. We began this distributed work model because it’s efficient.
Only later did we begin realizing the social and environmental benefits of letting people work from their homes. Keeping 13.41 cars from the landfill each year is a 0.000017% drop in the bucket compared to the 77,857,705 new cars manufactured in 2010. But it’s a start. And we think we can do even better in the years to come.
0 comments | Posted by: Terri on January 18, 2012 | Categories:
As an AnswerConnect employee, or client, you did something remarkable today. You helped save 282 gallons of gasoline. You cut down on the amount of pollutants released into the air. You lessened our country’s dependence on a nonrenewable resource. Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back.
The daily commute is a necessary evil in most workers’ lives. At least five days a week, millions of Americans start and end their work day by traveling between home and work, averaging 29 miles round trip.1 While some commuters choose public transit, car pooling, bicycling or walking to work, the truth is 75% of commuters drive to work alone,2 contributing to the 380,000,000 gallons of gas burned daily within the United States.3
Three-hundred eighty million gallons is a mind-boggling number, especially considering that burning just one gallon of gas produces 19 pounds of carbon dioxide,3 a major contributor to climate change. Add in carcinogenic hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone and other pollutants harmful to individual health, plant life and air quality alike, and suddenly the daily commute costs more than just dollars.
But we’ve found commuting isn’t a necessary evil. The concept of one central location to which all workers flock is not the end-all and be-all of work models. Smarter technology has made working online—from home—a feasible, even preferable option to commuting. Using shared networks, collaborative software and other online/cloud-based tools, we’re able to employ 272 workers from home, keeping them off the road, and saving 102,826 gallons of gasoline annually.
That number isn’t huge compared to 380 million, but we’re just one office. One single office saves 102,826 gallons of gas annually simply by using cloud-based tools (many of which are free or comparatively inexpensive) and a progressive culture to make remote work possible.