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Happy Earth Day! Let’s Green Up Self-Storage

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It’s Earth Day! The annual celebration offers an opportunity to reflect on how we’re all helping our planet. No matter your role in the self-storage industry, you can make an impact. Find out how.

There’s no denying that our Earth is changing—rapidly. More outrageous storms and wildfires are happening, and we often receive media alerts such as “poor air quality” or “extreme heat.” Yesterday, I heard one about high winds … in Arizona. And as citizens of this planet, it’s on all of us to protect it. However, it can be overwhelming and confusing. How can we truly make a difference both in our personal and professional lives?

Let me share a story. I’m a dedicated recycler. My family even has two bins, and we fill them both on the regular. A couple of weeks ago a city employee approached me about what was in one of the bins. Or, more accurately, what was sticking out of it. It was packing Styrofoam. Guess what? This isn’t recyclable in my city and I didn’t know it. He handed me a detailed flier with pictures, so I can practice better compliance. While it’s easy to plead “I didn’t know” or take on a don’t care attitude, there’s really no excuse if you hope to be a good citizen of the earth. The information is out there, we just need to seek it.

If you think your self-storage facility isn’t directly affected by climate change, you couldn’t be more wrong. Aside from the possibility that your property could be damaged by adverse weather, there are increased costs that are already happening, notably in your insurance coverage, deductibles, terms and premiums. If you haven’t connected with your insurance agent this year, it might be time for a call and an inspection of your contract.

Regardless if you’re a self-storage manager, owner, developer, investor or vendor, you have an opportunity—and a duty—to act. And many are as evidenced by the abundance of solar panels atop storage buildings, the transition to LED lights, windows featuring insulated glass and more businesses using digital leases. The pandemic ushered in a wave of technology that has helped in this regard in many ways. But there’s still more work to do. Consider what these companies are doing:

  • U.K. self-storage operator Big Yellow is transitioning its properties to be more sustainable by incorporating eco-friendly and energy-saving products and systems into its operations.
  • Ulmus Development Ltd. is building a five-story self-storage facility in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, that’ll include hemp-based interior walls to pull carbon from the air. Yes, hemp!
  • UB Stratford I LLC opened a net-zero-energy self-storage facility in Stratford, Connecticut.
  • U-Haul and its customers raised $100,000 in one year to help plant trees.

With another Earth Day upon us, I hope you’ll stop and reflect on what changes you can make personally and professionally. Maybe it’s finally purchasing an eco-friendly, reusable water bottle so you stop bringing those plastic throw-aways to work. Ditto for cutlery. It’s easy to stash a real fork, knife and spoon in your desk drawer. Ban those plastic straws from your life and try a reusable one. Consider green alternatives to trash bags. Add a recycling bin to your property. Make the move to digital leases. Give reusable office supplies a try. Take fewer trips to the bank or post office. Switch to non-toxic cleaning supplies. Add eco-friendly packaging to your retail store. There are so many small moves that you can make that can have a big impact. They might also save you money and time.

It’s time to celebrate Earth Day every day, not just once a year. Make a commitment to make your life and self-storage business greener any way you can.

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