I recently wrote a letter to Microsoft Corporation regarding the recycling of a non-functioning mouse and keyboard. I won’t repeat myself, though if you’re interested you can read about it here. It was written in a moment of frustration, though after some reflection, I’m less certain about the proper placement of that frustration. I was immediately frustrated because I thought I was doing the right thing by replacing a tiny little transceiver only to have my efforts thwarted by the company’s planned obsolescence. I was further frustrated by the thought that I had succumbed to the advertising pressures to be that this was an item I needed, though that purchase was made previous to me deciding to become more proactive in the practice of sustainability.
It started me thinking, here I am, so eager to point out a flaw and make suggestions on how Microsoft can do things better. What about my own business? I know it’s unrealistic to compare Microsoft to my one woman show, though it made me look again at my own business and ask what am I doing and what can I do more of to work toward a more sustainable future.
Some things I do to reduce my business’ impact on the planet:
- work at home, some driving to meet clients
- recycle ink cartridges
- print on both sides of paper when possible
- try not to collect excess product literature and materials
- eat lunch at home
- keep computer equipment and software as long as possible (last computer I had for 5 years then gave to sister)
- purchased refurbished 4 in 1 printer, 5 years later, still going strong
- spout off about sustainability whenever possible
- attempt to veer my clients toward green design
- used eco-friendly products when re-doing my office
- e-mail correspondence with clients to reduce paper
- changed to CFL bulbs in office
Areas I can improve:
- Quit my job.
I know what you’re thinking, but seriously, over the last year, I’ve become more and more dissatisfied with my work. I enjoy designing homes but it’s become less fulfilling. This has been a difficult thing to come to terms with and at the same time I feel like I’m moving closer toward being on a path that holds more meaning for me. I’ve decided to venture back to school to earn a BA in Sustainable Community Development from Prescott College. I just wonder, where is that going to leave me with all my years of Architecture and Autocad experience? I’m hoping all this can be merged into something really exciting and productive.
Thinking in terms of Peak Oil, my sigther is an architect and I figure one in the family is enough. I believe he’ll continue to have work since people will always need shelter, I just hope he remembers how to use a T-square, pencil and eraser. Our area is overrun with architects so they’ll probably thin out as less expensive McMansions are able to be built. The drafting table will be stored for future use, just in case. As for myself, I figure I can garden, can, and sew in the event of powering down and in the meantime work on motivating communities to move toward sustainability. I’ll be working on other practical skills as well. I look to some of my friends for inspiration; laurit is working on becoming a vet tech and possibly specializing in large animals. Dara can keep her local community stocked in beautiful utilitarian pottery. The mistress can birth babies like nobody’s business and knit matching booties for mama, papa and baby. T. can create beauty in any environment and build a studio with a pocket knife and a few popsicle sticks. All of these skills will be desperately needed in an energy descending world.
These friends happen to be women and mentioning them reminded me of a couple blogs I recently read. Rob Hopkins recently wrote a post on the predominant male voice of PO and Sharon Astyk has written a great post on PO being a womens issue. To Rob, I think women tend to just “do”. They acquire the information, process the information, go with a decision and do what they see is necessary, not giving a thought to ramble on about the issue (well, maybe some of us). There just aren’t enough of us that have woken up to the reality of PO yet. To Sharon, thanks for spreading the word. In preservation of what women have worked for over the years, it would be in our best interest to pay attention and become proactive as this issue develops. To Microsoft, I hope that keyboard found a new home.