Global warming, climate change and reducing carbon emissions are all burning issues these days. Most of us are very much aware of what we can do to help save the planet from the disastrous consequences of the harm that is being done to the environment, and even making a small contribution can change things for the better. Here are some tips on what we as professionals can do to make a difference:
•Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room for more than ten minutes. Plug office equipment into a power strip with a switch and turn it off when you shut down for the day, go to bed at night or are going to be away for a longer period.
•Use compact fluorescent (or carbon free) light bulbs (CFLs). CFLs use only one third of the electricity consumed by an ordinary incandescent light bulb and last up to ten times longer. Although they may seem expensive initially, you save both money and energy in the long run and it is definitely a more environment friendly option.
•Think about using and/or promoting renewable and alternative energy resources. Installing solar energy panels on your roof is one option, for example. This is still more expensive than conventional sources of energy, but even if you install panels for electricity supply to just one room in your house, you would be making a small contribution towards reducing the use of fossil fuels and other conventional energy resources that cause carbon emissions, climate change and depletion of natural resources.
Paper and paper products
Recycling and reusing paper can contribute towards less air pollution and saves trees, water and energy. Here’s what you can do:
•Use chlorine-free paper. This may now seem obvious to people in many countries, but there are still places in the world where use of chlorine-free paper is not yet that common. Chlorine bleaching paper mills emit toxic chemicals that can pollute lakes, rivers and other water bodies, harming animals and ecosystems. Manufacturing of chlorine-free paper, however, does not use chlorine or chlorine compounds.
•Avoid taking print-outs and using hard copies of documents wherever possible. Print on both sides of the paper. Paper that has been printed on one side only can be used to receive incoming faxes or for taking print-outs of translations that you are going to proofread.
•Try and use online resources as much as possible, instead of having paper versions mailed to you. This applies to catalogues, brochures and other marketing materials. Sell your own services online too, rather than sending out applications by post.
•You can cut scraps of paper, botched up print-outs and paper from envelopes to one size and staple or bind the pieces of paper together to make small notepads that can be used for jotting down telephone messages or writing to-do and shopping lists. Scraps of paper can also be used in hobbies involving crafts such as collage, paper mache and origami.
Computer recycling and re-use
In India, where I live, it is still very common to re-use old computers and to upgrade, refurbish and repair computers for as long as possible. However, I know that there are some countries in the world where old computers are very often just thrown away, which has led to “mountains” of computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices in landfills and dumping grounds. When they are disposed of in this way, the components computers are made of can leave toxins in the earth and groundwater, which are again harmful to both humans and other living creatures. Here are some tips on how to dispose of and re-use old computers:
•Upgrade and repair your computer for as long as possible. Fortunately, as translators we only work with text and don’t have to use some of the complex software and equipment people in other professions do. Only buy a new computer when it is absolutely necessary.
•Laptops are more energy efficient than PCs. Here again, a translator can do his/her work quite comfortably on a laptop.
•When you buy a new computer you can still use your old computer as a family computer for playing games, watching movies, family web surfing and e-mailing and children’s homework and school projects.
•Donate your old computer to schools, community centres and NGOs. If you search the web, you will find that many NGOs now run computer training programs for the less privileged and would be happy to accept used computers.
•Do your homework before you buy a new computer. Computer companies, such as Dell, for example, are now looking into computer recycling in a big way, and many of them will take back your old computer when you buy a new one and re-use the parts. Some dealers also take back old computers and will even agree to give you a discount on the new one in exchange.
I’m sure that many of you already do many of these things and are aware of them, but I feel they cannot be emphasised enough. As I said before, even a small step towards reducing your carbon footprint and improving environmental conditions can make a big difference.
By Niraja Nanjundan | Published 07/15/2007