Everyday Sustainability in the Pirie Office

Date: Jun 11, 2019 10:00:00 AM

By: Katherine Jacobs

We’re passionate about creating healthy and sustainable spaces in our work as designers. But what efforts do we make in our office and individually to mitigate our impact?  Check it out…

Paper. We avoid a lot of unnecessary printing by working digitally, but from hand sketching to printouts for quality control, the design process is still paper-intensive. To minimize paper use, we print double-sided whenever possible.  We also have 2 dedicated trays in our copy machine that are stocked with paper that was only printed on one side.  In order to balance our persistent need for paper with our love of forests, we only buy paper that is FSC certified.

Recycling. There has been a lot of concern about the recycling market recently, but an episode on NPR’s The Full Story called “The Collapse of the Recycling Market” reassured us that it’s definitely worth sticking with it. We are taking full advantage of New Haven’s single-stream recycling, and do our best to follow Connecticut’s recycling rules. Becky is taking it a step further, collecting our plastic film and Styrofoam to bring to special recycling programs as well.

Compost. Peels and Wheels shows up every Friday morning to take away a 5 gallon bucket of our food scraps. This takes care of all the food scraps we generate in the office, our paper towels, and a lot of the food scraps we generate at home, too.

Cleaning Products. Because everything that goes down the drain ends up somewhere, we use Meyer’s Clean Day soap and cleaning products, which are all made without parabens, phthalates, triclosan, MEA, DEA, formaldehyde, and artificial colors. As a bonus, their bottles are at least 25% post-consumer plastic.

Light. We’re extremely fortunate that the original design of our office predated electric light, so the tall windows are designed to let in as much light as possible. Not only does this reduce our electricity use, we enjoy the biophilic benefits of natural light on our health and wellbeing. Finally, because it’s not always sunny outside, we supplement as needed with high efficiency LED lights.

Natural Materials. Speaking of biophilia, almost everything in our office is made of natural materials like wood and stone (our computers are a major exception - let us know if you can think of a way around this one). These materials take fewer resources to create, emit fewer harmful chemicals into our environment, and they help up stay connected with the natural environment while we’re cooped up indoors.

Coffee. We could get a Keurig, but we like our twice daily visit to our neighbors at Koffee?—and we always bring our reusable mugs.

Fun Facts

Melissa just got an electric car, and a solar array for her roof at home is in the works.

Becky got a brand new solar array on her house last month!  It is estimated to offset just over 100% of her home’s electricity usage.

Charles lives on an organic farm.

Danielle and Katherine both have zero carbon commutes: Danielle lives close enough to walk, and Katherine bikes to work.

We’re doing a lot as a team and as individuals to improve our environmental footprint, and we’re always striving to do more. If you would like to share your stories about changes you made in your life or office to support health and wellbeing, let us know!

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