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Monday, May 05, 2008

Work and waste

I just read an interesting take on work and waste in Fast Company Magazine. The article by David Roberts says American employees put in more hours and take fewer vacations than just about anyone else in the industrialized world. But they way we work and our struggle for balance also may drive our habits of waste.

Because we work so much, we're tired and tend to use more Styrofoam to-go containers. Because we work so much, we're tired and often fall asleep in front of the TV. Because we work so much, we're booting up power hungry electronics at all times of day and night. (Are you feeling guilty yet?) American workers have more than doubled productivity in the past half-century _ but they also have increased the nation's energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions.

The article goes on to say, "If we want to accelerate the recent trend of reducing waste, it may be time to consider the radical step of, well, relaxing more, consuming less and living fuller lives."

Relaxing? How many of us know how to do that anymore?

Roberts points out that even "green" businesses don't seem eager to reduce waste by reinventing the workweek or allowing more telecommuting. So, I'm forced to think it may be up to us workers to make proposals and reclaim our leisure time. And, its up to us to looking hard at devoting our leisure hours to activities with low environmental impact rather than driving around guzzling up gas or booting up our electronics. (Not easy habits to break!)

Would your company buy into a shorter work week if it benefited the company and the environment? Would you have the courage to make the proposal? And, would you be able to power down for an entire day on your next day off?

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