Here at Mystery U, there are little signs in the labs that encourage us to conserve electricity, whereas when I worked in a lab in California, signs urged us to conserve water, and in the Northwest, I was encouraged to save trees by using fewer paper towels. These observations have gotten me wondering about regional and employer differences in conservation messages.

What I’m wondering is how easy is it for people to live out their environmental principles when they are at work and school? And do the messages we hear vary by where we are in the country or the world? (Is it soda or is it pop?)

To satiate my curiosity, I designed a short survey, and I’d appreciate getting your response. There are only a couple of questions, and I’ll share the results here in a few weeks.

Click here to take the survey


  1. #1 LM
    October 25, 2007

    Taken! ^_^

  2. #2 Salad Is Slaughter
    October 25, 2007

    Taken, but the “lights” question should have an option for having them on a timer.

  3. #3 Liz
    October 25, 2007

    Interesting survey!

    One thing I never thought about until I came to my current workplace is the ridiculous practice of including a coversheet with each print job (to identify who sent the document to the printer). I had to ask several people before someone was able to show me how to turn off this function, and some people still use them – either out of preference or laziness, I don’t know.

  4. #4 ScienceWoman
    October 25, 2007

    Salad – I’ve never seen lights on a timer in an academic building, or I would have included it!

    Liz – That’s ridiculous to waste an extra sheet of paper every time. People are either going to claim their printout or not, a coversheet won’t make them more responsible. I hate coversheets on faxes for the same reason.

  5. #5 makita
    October 25, 2007

    Done. Our lab printer can only print one-sided, but I print all the odd pages first, then turn the stack over to print the even ones. One day there was a note stuck to the bathroom door to please leave the light ON. A few minutes later there was another note attached to it that said: I conserve energy, I turn it OFF. I thought that was good. But even if all lights are turned off, there are some lights that just always remain on in the building, day or night. I suppose it’s for safety, but boy does that annoy me.

  6. #6 Katie
    October 25, 2007

    It says the survey is closed…..So much for procrastinating.

  7. #7 Field Notes
    October 25, 2007

    The survey was closed for me too. Darn I love surveys!

    Besides the lights always being on (have they ever heard of motion detector lights?) and printing double sided…

    I also like to see a higher ratio of recycling bins to trash cans in hallways. My big pet peeve about my campus is that they water the lawns like crazy and we are in the middle of a very arid region. Grass may be pretty, but so is xeriscaping!!

  8. #8 justapie
    October 25, 2007

    I missed it too…

    The institute where I work is quite environment conscious, we even have signs in the bathrooms that encourage us not to waste the paper wipes!

    But in my experience in most academic departments the biggest problem is the indiscriminate use of the printers: people print articles even when they are not sure they want to read them, they forget them in the printer and print more copies…

  9. #9 Stephen
    October 25, 2007

    Wow, that closed fast!

    Can it be reopened?

  10. #10 Kim
    October 25, 2007

    I don’t have access to a double-sided printer. I know there must be one around someplace, though, because the students (who have to print out their own lab handouts, because our department doesn’t really have a photocopying budget) have found a way to print both sides.

    I got out of the habit of printing on sides of used paper during my previous job. The computer tech people yelled at us for it – apparently the old ink got on something inside the printers and messed things up. I don’t know whether the technology has improved much… because I use all the extra paper either for scratch paper for brainstorming (I’m old and have trouble brainstorming on a keyboard), or for plate tectonics exercises, or for art supplies for my four-year-old. I figure that the pictures of “smiling mountains” that he’s drawing are as good of a re-use as another draft of something would be.

    Students have to pay per page to print on campus. I think that may reduce the paper waste (though it was primarily a cost-cutting measure, like having faculty empty their own garbage cans).

  11. #11 Flicka Mawa
    October 26, 2007

    Almost all the lights on my campus, in the teaching buildings and labs and offices, are on a timer. They turn on by motion or button touch but turn off on their own after an hour.

    We have recycling bins for paper and cans nearly everywhere there is a trash bin – they put all three next to each other. I’ve gotten so used to being able to recycle everything that I get agitated when I go out to a shop and there’s no place to put the cans and bottles for recycling!

    Double-sided printing is the default in all of the computer labs. Also we have to pay extra if we want to go over a certain number of pages per week. Think that might be more for cost, but it does make people think about what they’re printing.

    We don’t have any signs urging you to conserve water though.

  12. #12 fruchtzwerg
    October 26, 2007

    it absolutely depends on where in the world you are: in the lab in finland, it was absolutely normal to print however much you wanted, if something went wrong, you’d simply print it again, and double-sided? you gotta be kidding! they’re so heavily dependent on their wood and paper industry and have soooo much forest that they don’t think at all about saving trees… very different from germany or the uk!

    and i have more problems in conserving water at home than at work because my housemates are incapable of shutting the tap properly…

  13. #13 Mommyprof
    October 26, 2007

    The survey was closed, but I can tell you that PrettyGood SUCKS in the environmentalism department. It doesn’t surprise me, though, since Central State as a whole has underwhelmed me in this department. I have to drive 25 minutes just to recycle here (irony there!), but I can put out as much in the trash as I like. Hate it, hate it, hate it!

  14. #14 SB
    October 29, 2007

    The survey is closed…

    I can tell you that here in Germany they are weird about Environmental stuff.

    They save energy by not having lights on most of the time (which is annoying to me, as I feel like I’m working in a dungeon, even though I have a big window in my office… but it’s cloudy and all, so I just use a desk lamp), BUT they print EVERYTHING! It’s crazy! All e-mails, everything! I’ve tried to introduce my “let’s e-mail each other the file” instead, so that we can save on paper!

    We do recycle trash (paper vs. “the rest”) and all offices have 2 trash cans for that purpose. And, most important, when we have “parties” (lunch gatherings) there are no paper plates / cups – We use china that the department has and just wash it (by hand… on a soapy container, no rinsing, which is weird to me, but apparently is common in some areas of Europe – I have to stop myself from thinking I’m eating soap!)…

  15. #15 Freiddie
    November 6, 2007

    Excuse me, but when are the results going to be published? You said “a few weeks” so I’m still waiting.

  16. #16 ScienceWoman
    November 6, 2007

    Freiddie: Good question. The results will be published within the next week or so, depending on when I have the time to make sense of them all. I wanted to do a geographical analysis, but the free version of Survey Monkey is making that difficult, so I might just need to aggregate things. I’m glad people are still interested though…

  17. #17 Freiddie
    December 21, 2007

    I’m still interested in the results, but I can’t find them in the archives (unless of course, I’m missing something that I didn’t see in the titles). BTW, I’m not trying to be sarcastic.

  18. #18 ScienceWoman
    December 22, 2007

    The results are here.

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