Friday, April 22, 2011

Be an Eco-Friendly Researcher in Celebration of Earth Day

So many of us diligently sort and recycle our glass and plastic, take re-usable bags to the supermarket, and make an effort to purchase recycled paper products all in an effort to benefit our planet. But do we always apply those earth-loving principles to our work? How many times have we printed off more pages than we really need? How often have we innocently tossed a spent ink cartridge in the trash without a second thought?

In honor of Earth Day, I have composed a list of simple eco-friendly practices that we researchers can easily implement.

1. The next time you head to the local library to pick up your hefty stack of inter-library loan items or other requested books, bring a tote bag with you. That way you can politely decline the plastic bag they may have otherwise given you at check-out.

2. When printing drafts at home, print on both sides of the page or on the back of previously-used paper. (Unless I am submitting a piece or printing an especially important item, I always print on scrap pages).

3. Save and re-use your print cards. Many libraries and research centers require patrons to use plastic print cards to make photocopies or computer print-outs. Rather than tossing the card at the end of the day, save it for your next visit to that repository. In many--if not most--cases, you can add value to a previously-purchased card.

4. Recycle your ink and toner cartridges. You can drop these off at office and electronics stores, such as Best Buy or Staples.

5. Take notes and save website information electronically when conducting online research. There are many services that make this simple, including Diigo and Evernote (among others).

6. Think about fuel efficiency when traveling to repositories and conferences. You can improve your gas mileage by keeping your tires inflated, regularly changing your oil, and scheduling routine maintenance. 

7. Better yet, walk or use public transportation when traveling to a research site whenever feasible.

These changes are easy to put into practice and none of them will break the bank--in fact, most will save you money. We spend a lot of time digging into the past, but we shouldn't forget about the future. Happy Earth Day!