As I was walking through the parking lot of my local grocery store last weekend, I took note of the trash strewn about. I noticed the ever-present cigarette butts scattered here and there, an empty plastic bottle at the base of a bush, what looked like some food smashed into the pavement, a half-melted plastic fork, and other disgusting items. It distresses me that here we are, in 2019, and people still don’t understand the impact they’re having on this earth.
Monday is Earth Day, an annual celebration focused on environmental awareness and protection. The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. This year, events are planned in more than 193 countries. And while we’ve come a long way since that first celebration (ahem, 49 years ago!), there’s still so far to go. Here are some startling statistics you should know:
- More than 8 million tons of plastic enter our oceans annually
- Toxic pollution affects more than 200 million people worldwide
- Americans generate 30 billion foam cups, 220 million tires and 1.8 billion disposable diapers every year
- Earth’s five warmest years on record have been in the last five years
- By 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic in landfills
- Americans use 85 million tons of paper annually
Pretty scary, right? Fortunately, there are steps we can all take to help Mother Earth every day. Consider making these changes at your self-storage facility.
Recycle as much as possible. This is the easiest thing you can do. Some storage operators are now offering double-sided leases to reduce the amount of paperwork or even digital rental agreements. If your site is doing this, great! If you can’t move to a paperless system, recycle as much paper as possible. Another way you can reduce paper is by asking your storage customers if they want a receipt. Many will say no. You should also recycle other things, such as plastic, batteries, light bulbs and cardboard.
Reduce and re-use when you can. We’re all creatures of habit and sometimes we don’t realize we can actually do without something just fine. Think about ways you and your tenants can reduce waste or re-use items. How about providing your tenants with resources on where they can donate unwanted items? This would ensure the stuff stays out of your dumpster (or left behind in the unit) and helps local charities. If you have a bulletin board in your office, simply attach a document with a few organizations that accept donations along with address.
Say no to plastic. Stop using one-time use plastic. This includes straws, bags, utensils, cups and containers. Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, and 91 percent of it is never recycled, according to National Geographic. Stash a few cloth napkins and reusable cups, water bottles, mugs, cutlery and steel straws in your break room. Pack your lunch in a re-usable glass container. Switch to coffee filters made of recycled paper or purchase a coffee maker that doesn’t use paper filters at all.
Turn out the lights. Many self-storage operators are installing motion-detecting lighting. This ensures lights only come on in hallways or around building perimeters when motion is detected. It’ll reduce your electricity bill, too. Also, turn lights off when you’re out of the office and open up the blinds to take advantage of natural light whenever possible. Consider switching to energy-saving LED lighting.
Here are some other ideas you can incorporate at your self-storage facility:
- Add at least one plant to your office. Not only will this perk it up, but the plant will help remove toxins from the air.
- Allow tenants to electronically notify you of an address or phone number change rather than having them write it down.
- Computers are energy-suckers! Use energy-saving modes and turn them off whenever possible.
- Digitize your files! It’s complex and requires work, but you’ll reduce paper and regain the physical space all those files consumed.
- Purchase recycled printer paper, use refillable pens and opt for “green” cleaning products.
- Add solar panels on your building rooftop. Purchase a solar-powered golf cart.
While Earth Day only comes around once a year, we should all be working toward “greening” our environment every day. Consider the changes—big and small—you can make in your personal life and at your storage business that can have a positive impact on the environment. Being eco-friendly is a huge commitment, but everyone will reap the rewards, especially Mother Earth!
What steps have you taken to be eco-friendly at your self-storage facility? Post a comment on Self-Storage Talk, the industry’s largest online community.