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5 Easy, Earth-Friendly Things Your Business Can Do Today

Every now and then, we get the chance to help a nonprofit do it’s thing in the world. Palo Alto-based nonprofit Acterra is helping Bay Area businesses improve their earth-friendly practices, and to help them out, we recently donated some of our Jarvis desks and Capisco chairs to infuse their efforts with better movement and energy.

To celebrate Earth Day on April 22, we asked their Director of Business Partnerships for Sustainability, Nicole Angiel, to share her Top five things companies can easily do today to improve their earth-friendliness.

Read on for her tips, and about how Acterra’s Fully active workspaces have helped ease her neck pain and keep her focused at work.

What are five things businesses can start doing today to become more environmentally and socially sustainable?

  1. Reduce your plug load. Think about what you need to plug in and when. Power down when you’re away from your desk to save energy. Turn off the lights when you leave a space or invest in sensor lights or other technology available for lighting and HVAC control. A recent Acterra Business Environmental Award winner called Comfy developed a great system to control their HVAC, saving tons of energy and stopping the battles of adjusting the thermostat for those too hot or too cold folks.
  2. Things you no longer want can be useful to others. We had a bunch of old office supplies and donated what we no longer needed to a creative reuse depot for teachers and artists. There are several around the Bay Area. When you have enough time in your office makeover you can make sure to donate unwanted items to people and organizations who need them and will put them to good use.
  3. Try for a climate friendly diet. Whether you eat in the cafe or bring lunch from home, opt for a climate friendly diet and reduce your meat and dairy consumption, even if you start with just once a week. Ditch the individually wrapped processed snack food and single use plastic water bottles.
  4. Rethink your commute. If you can’t bike, walk or take transit, get in an EV and find some carpool buddies.
  5. Allow plenty of time. It takes longer than you think to go through everything you may have accumulated over the years, especially if you’ve been around as long as Acterra! Make sure you have a good plan for where you’ll work in the interim and expect delays. We added a fun accent wall using one of our brand colors and that really livened up our space with no additional cost.

How does Acterra help businesses improve their sustainability practices?

Acterra is a Palo Alto-based environmental 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving the Bay Area. Our mission is to bring people together to find local solutions for a healthy planet. Our current focus is local climate action, but we’ve been around since 1970 and have worked on every important environmental issue from recycling to land stewardship.

A good, short explanation of how we work with other business is our Silicon Valley Green Team Network. The SVGTN is a relatively new program we started in 2016. We realized, in talking with businesses, that the smaller companies who couldn’t afford a full time sustainability staff member were striving towards environmental and social responsibility through their green team members. These are people with day jobs like data analyst or marketing manager who care deeply about sustainability, but who have limited or no access to networking or learning opportunities with other like-minded volunteer 'green-teamers.'

Sometimes they feel stuck in a rut and want to get advice from others doing what they are doing. So our network was born and has since quadrupled in size. We meet twice a year in person at our Forums and year round through our LinkedIn group. Our Forums have a different theme each time. In April we’ll be focusing on impact investing and engaging a growth mindset to promote sustainability.

How is your Fully active workspace helping you do your job?

Two of us were having neck problems and were advised to think about standing desks and encouraged to get up and move as much as possible at work. We had a bunch of mismatched old, clunky salvaged desks with drawers down each side and a tiny space in between to sit. Our building manager offered me a sit-stand workstation (abandoned by another tenant) that you can clip onto your desk. Of course it wouldn’t clip on to my old desk, but I tried it out at home and loved it! I was then on a mission to find a solution for the office. I searched the web and found Fully. With the very best reviews for quality and durability, as well as B Corp Certification, it was clear this was the solution for Acterra.

We worked with A’Quila and she was so helpful and thoughtful every step of the way. We were so grateful for the donation of Jarvis desks and Capisco chairs. It was so great to get away from our office's “hand-me-down” vibe of a sad 1970’s nonprofit. Fully came to the rescue!

It was an amazing transformation to turn our cluttered, dusty space that looked like something out of a Hoarders episode into a fresh, clean and modern space. We had a lot of fun unpacking everything when it arrived and we got a good laugh out of Fully's Jarvis assembly video.

I feel so much healthier, productive and energized throughout my day. My neck problems are gone - although I will give my physical therapist most of the credit for that - and I know they will stay away thanks to my sit-stand desk and Capisco chair.

My active workspace really has changed my work day. I tend to stand when I am at my computer and sit when in a meeting or on the phone. I also tend to walk around more. When I was boxed into my little desk, I was less likely to get up and walk around while thinking about a problem. Now I am already standing, so when I pause to think about something, I can move around, look out the window, walk down the hall and even briefly leave the building for some fresh air and fresh ideas.

Everyone is so happy at their new workspaces. The biggest difference I can see is in our Business Manager. She just beams when I go into her office now. She absolutely loves her new workspace.

About Nicole Angiel

I’ve been with Acterra since 2015 as Director of Business Partnerships for Sustainability. I work on programs that celebrate and encourage sustainability in businesses, nonprofits and government agencies across the Bay Area. I started my career in local government developing waste reduction and recycling programs for schools and businesses and later shifted to consulting, supporting the US EPA and other agencies on a variety of environmental projects. I love to hike, ski, create art and cook plant-based cuisine.