We're all used to the blue bins, the green bins – you know the ones with holes exactly as big as a soda can, encouraging you to recycle rather than tossing it into the local landfill, where it would spend the next 200-500 years ever-so-slowly decomposing.
We hear it all the time: Everyone can do their part to make their homes and offices more sustainable. So recycle that can, think of the environment before printing an email, and turn your computer and lights off when you leave the office – trust me, it doesn’t make your boss think you’re still there – or finish up in the kitchen at night.
There's a bigger question here, though. What can government do? How do we make enterprise-wide changes that will conserve energy, recycle goods, and make our facilities and resources more sustainable as we plan for the future? Well, we can start by setting an example.
Last week, the President signed an Executive Order on federal sustainability. The order commits the federal government and its employees to "lead by example" - furthering a culture of sustainability by:
- establishing real greenhouse gas emission reduction targets;
- increasing energy efficiency;
- reducing vehicle fleet gas consumption;
- conserving water and reducing waste;
- and leveraging the government's purchasing power to promote more environmentally-conscience products and technologies.
So where do we begin? This week, The White House launched the GreenGov Challenge - a call to action for federal employees to get involved and submit their best ideas to make our government more sustainable. Employees can submit ideas online and vote on others. The challenge began on October 19th, and continues through the end of the month; employees can head over to the White House's site to get started. Now, while only federal employees may submit ideas, the American public is welcome to log on to view and monitor all the contributions as they are submitted.
So if you're a federal employee, get involved. We need every good idea to make this a success. Those green and blue bins are just a start.