One of the events garnering more attention in recent years is Earth Day. “First launched as an environmental awareness event in the United States in 1970, Earth Day (April 22) is celebrated as the birth of the environmental movement” (source: Earth Day Canada). Regardless of the political background of the event, it is a helpful reminder that we need to increase our stewardship of our planet.

Earth Day Canada proposes a list of top 10 actions to celebrate the day.  Although some suggestions would require quite a bit of effort to comply, the majority of the suggestions are simple and actionable: buy what you need, not what you want (appropriate in the current economic climate); simple steps like closing the tap water while you brush your teeth; and donate items rather than throwing them out – and if you can’t give it away, then recycle it.
Earth Day Logo (courtesy Wikipedia Commons)

Earth Day Logo (courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

So with Earth day in mind a bunch of Intellera’s staff including yours truly took part in an internal lunchtime cleanup of a particular area of our server room that was wasting space and energy: a wall with cabinets and boxes full of “stuff”.

In the old days the activity would have been simple: chuck everything. We would easily have filled 10+ giant construction garbage bags had we done that. This time around however, we were quite careful to limit garbage. Instead we were able to find a new home for piles of old equipment (it was a walk down memory lane for sure), and we recycled a number of old boxes of stationery that were getting yellow with age and which had printed addresses from our old office from over 5 years ago.

Why did we have so much of that stationery to begin with? The answer was not that we had printed such an outrageous amount of letterhead or envelopes, but in fact that we use so little of it in our daily activities compared to 10 years ago. Our primary method of external communication today is e-mail and web sites (for our help desk or file sharing), which are fully digital. We hardly print anything at all, forms are exclusively digital, and all contracts are maintained in digital libraries.

There is still a need for paper, in particular for business cards and when we attend conferences and hand out company literature, but this is a small percentage of the paper we used to consume as a whole.

By the way, we cut down on 75% of the space used on that wall, space that was being heated for no reason. All in all, a good step forward to celebrate Earth Day.