We did it! A greener Upstatement

Emily Theis
Aug 9, 2019 · 3 min read

In April, I wrote about one of Upstatement’s internal projects to make our office and people more eco-friendly. I’m back, happy to report that we made a lot of progress! We hope the little bit of effort we took in our offices and lives inspires others to make more sustainable changes in their world:

Lights, now powered by the god of WIND! Blurry people, now throwing away less trash.

Switched to 100% renewable energy

  • Citizens AND companies (even renters!) in Massachusetts have the right to choose their energy providers, which means we now have officially 100% renewable energy powering our computers and very loud fridge.
  • It cost us nothing — in fact, our current rate is slightly lower than the basic Eversource rate.

How to do it yourself:

  • Visit your utility company website to check out a few past bills to determine how many KwH you are using per month.
  • Choose a new provider and estimate your costs at http://www.energyswitchma.gov/. Find a company with 100% renewable energy at a good price, and go for a long, fixed rate contract. Mark on your calendar when your contract ends so you can call and check the rates or switch providers. You’ll sign up through the energy provider itself, not the utility company. It feels fake but it’s real!

Completed a trash audit

  • We designed a survey for people to fill out to get a sense of how much we were dumping in the landfill. In one week, we ended up with 75 aluminum cans, 50 cups of food/organics waste, 316 pieces of paper or cardboard per week. We estimate we were tossing 4,000 aluminum cans, 162 gallons of food waste, and over 150,000 trashed paper and cardboard pieces in a year.
  • We haven’t officially measured again, but you’ll read below that we are now diverting cans and paper to recycling, and composting all organic waste, which means less than a bag of actual trash per day most days!

Implemented recycling

  • It was strangely hard to get a sense of whether or not our building had recycling services, but figured it out, and we’re doin’ it now! We’re focusing on CLEAN aluminum cans and paper — plastic is rarely actually recycled.

Brought in a Zero Waste speaker

  • We brought a speaker for our Friday speaker series: an awesome local friend, Melanie Bernier, who is living a zero-waste life. She told us how she got into it, how she makes it work, the challenges she faces, some recommended resources & activities. I know some folks are already finding ways to bulk shop and reduce trash in their homes!

Implemented composting

  • We paired up with Bootstrap Composting, an awesome local composting company, who is helping us divert our organic waste from landfills. We’re filling up a whole stinky bag per week.
  • FYI, Not only does composting keep this waste out of landfills, it minimizes the pollution they create. Plant matter doesn’t decay cleanly when placed in landfills — it produce methane, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Composting, by comparison, produces negligible greenhouse gases.

Investigated our plastic utensil situation

  • We have a ton of disposable serving and eating utensils and plates/bowls that we need to get through before we consider buying more reusable ones
  • We’ve organized the drawers + cabinets to help people find them and encouraged our caterers not to bring any more

Wrote up summary for other floors of our building

  • We want to spread the earth love beyond our walls, so we typed up a how-to guide for many of the actions above for other companies who hang out here on 137 Portland.

That’s it! We’ll be on to new Friday projects in a month or two, but we’re proud of our progress and committed to doing more for a happy, healthy earth.

Currents

Writings collected from around the Upstatement office.

Emily Theis

Written by

Head of Producers at Upstatement. Designer, musician, and quilter. Hoosier turned Bostonian. Devoted dog mom. http://emilythe.is

Currents

Currents

Writings collected from around the Upstatement office. Upstatement is a free-thinking, fun-loving creative studio that imagines & builds exceptional digital experiences. www.upstatement.com

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