Ice cream, work, and saving the environment

I don’t eat much ice cream. It’s not that I dislike it, it’s just that I don’t particularly like it. Of course I went to the DopeFest at Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in San Diego. I had a hot fudge sundae with bananas in it. I thought that would be all the ice cream I’d eat for a while.

Then last weekend I bought some ice cream at the corner market. I had an urge to make coffee with alcohol and ice cream in it. Okay, I did that. And then yesterday I had a cone at Ben & Jerry’s because it was free and everyone else was going.

They were giving away free ice cream for canser research. It was also Earth Day.

I picked up a pamphlet that contained ideas on how to help save the environment. One of the ideas was to reduce driving by 15 miles per week. The pamphlet claimed that doing this would save 900 pounds of CO[sub]2[/sub] from going into the atmosphere each year. Every day I drive about 90 miles. Six times 15 miles. Thirty times 15 miles every week. That means that if I didn’t commute to work, I would be keeping 27,000 pounds of CO[sub]2[/sub] out of the environment over the course of a year. (6 x 15 = 90, 90 x 5 = 450, 450 / 15 = 30, 30 x 900 = 27,000)

On my own initiative, I’ve had our primary data processing program changed so that an important report is now saved to a dataset instead of only being printed on the hardcopy. The other report that we use has been saved online “forever”. Now there is no reason to have paper output except when the program fails. Again on my own initiative (and with approval from management this time), I’m working with our programming department to save the entire printed output to a dataset with a retention period of seven days. This will allow people to review jobs that failed and to find out why (or, more probably, ask me to find out why their job didn’t work) without having to print the job and wait for it to be delivered from 25 miles away. Since we pay for every line printed, that will save a ton of money.

If data analysis and troubleshooting can be done without paper, then why have an office? I can write my Easytrieve Plus programs, reformat profiles and JCL from anywhere. I already test them and analyze the results online. I usually communicate with my co-workers by e-mail. It seems the only real advantage of being together in a cube farm is that we can go to lunch together.
The advantages of not being in a cube farm and telecommuting instead? Preventing 27,000 pounds (in my case) of carbon dioxide from adding to our collection of greenhouse gasses. Reduction in the amount of paper that the company buys and that gets immediately tossed into the recycle bin. Using less paper means that somewhere up the line one tree might not be cut down. (Not immediately, of course. It takes more than one department of one company from reducing demand enough to make a difference.) The demand for petroleum is reduced. The wear and tear on personal vehicles is reduced. Traffic on the freeways and surface streets are reduced, which also wears out the roads more slowly. “Going to work” in your underwear or with bedhead. Reduced demand for office space, resulting in smaller offices for those who don’t telecommute, which means lower rents paid by the company. Brownie Points with the AQMD. Happier employees. And of course, I could finally get the hell out of Los Hideous!!!

Not that it will actually happen. We’re owned by a British company, and British companies seem to be a bit tight-assed. In addition, the company I work for is not known for innovation and forward thinking. Most of the managers are of the “If I can’t see you, you’re not working” variety.

So my little trip to the ice cream store isn’t going to allow me to save 27,000 pounds of CO[sub]2[/sub] from being released into the atmosphere. Nor will very many other companies allow their workers to help save the environment in such a way. It would take a large-scale effort by many companies to make a difference.

But by getting rid of our department’s printed output, at least I’ll be saving some resources and I’ll be saving the company a lot of money. Too bad we’re not one of those companies that pay 10% of the savings to the person who came up with the idea. If all companies paid 10% of saving they’d still be saving 90% of their costs. The employees would have an incentive to innovate. And in the long run it would be good for the environment.

Good ideas.