Here are the quick and dirty results of my green workplaces survey from a few weeks back. I had originally hoped to do a geographical analysis of the results, but the limitations of SurveyMonkey’s free features effectively precluded that this time around. Still the results are illuminating and I’m looking forward to your help in designing the next phase of the “research.”
First up, some demographic information. There were 104 survey respondents, 78% of whom were from the United States. Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada, and Australia/New Zealand/Pacific Islands were also represented. Within the US, the Upper Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southwest were the dominant responding regions. In terms of intuitional affiliations, 58% of respondents worked or studied at a university or liberal arts college. Individuals working at private companies were the next largest batch of respondents.
1. When you walk into a bathroom at your place of work/study, what are you reminded to conserve? (choose all that apply)
Electricity and/or water conservation were the bathroom reminders for 15% of the survey respondents, and 11% were reminded to not waste paper or that paper = trees. Given that some people were asked to conserve more than one thing, that left 64% of survey respondents not being asked to conserve anything when entering/leaving a bathroom. So go ahead, leave that tap running and the light on in an empty room, it’s okay with the boss!
This question was motivated by my observation that I was asked to conserve different things in different parts of the country and I wondered about conservation messages relative to regional resource scarcity or abundance. Unfortunately, it looks like most people aren’t being reminded to conserve at all. How hard is it to make some little stickers reminding people to turn off lights, conserve water, or not waste paper towels? Apparently, it’s not on the agenda of university administrators or company management.
2. At your place of work/study, do you have access to a printer that prints double-sided?
14% said “Yes, that is the default setting” and 51% said “yes, but I have to select that option.” That’s great news. I knew that the -ology department here at Mystery U was behind the curve by not having double-sided printing. It just kills me to print out journal articles single-sided, but I still print some of them out so that I can read them at home while Minnow is playing independently. What’s less good news is 24% of respondents were in the same situation as me and could only print single-sided. Even unhappier news comes from the 9% of survey-takers who said “yes, but the printer is so inconvenient I don’t use it” and the one curmudgeon who said “yes, but I choose to print single sided.” Finally, I feel sorry for the one person who has doesn’t access to a printer at all – but then again, I guess they have finally achieved the paperless office that the computer age was supposed to usher in.
3. At your place of work/study, which items can you easily recycle? (check all that apply)
80% of respondents can recycle mixed paper and 62% of respondents can recycle newspaper. 64% of respondents can recycle aluminum, 59% can recycle plastic, and 55% can recycle glass. 5 respondents can even recycle compost. I looked up those compost recyclers – they came from a 2 public universities in the US, a public university in Australia/New Zealand/Pacific, a private company in Asia, and a mysterious someone somewhere. Thirteen people skipped the question, which I assume means they couldn’t recycle any of those things. Most of those people came from Europe. Maybe my readers can fill me in…is there recycling not widely available/used in Europe or have you come up with containerless and paperless products? As for Mystery U, we seem to be pretty average: no compost, but everything else.
4. At your place of work/study, are lights in labs, classrooms, and/or bathrooms set on motion detectors?
All lights on motion detectors for 9% of respondents, while 16% of people have most of them set to switch off if no motion is detected. 31% of respondents say some or a few of their lights have motion detectors, but 42% say that none of them do. A commenter pointed out that I could also have asked about lights on timers, and I also realized that motion detectors might not be appropriate for big lecture halls, because of the masses of motionless students and the need to adjust brightness for note-taking, etc. So this question could be revised. One respondent said “we work in the dark!” I hope their office has good natural lighting, but I suppose it’s not so unreasonable. After all my office lights are off right now because it’s noon and I’ve got a wall of windows. Or maybe they work in a darkroom. Hmmm…
Those are the results of the survey, and it was helpful for me to see how my experiences compared with other places, but I’d still like to know more about regional differences. I’m thinking of writing a couple of parallel surveys designed to target only a specific demographic or region. I broke the US into 10 regions (following the EPA regions) for this survey, but I’m not writing ten new ones. Maybe 4 (Northeast, South, Midwest, West)? Would that work? Would you know how to classify yourself? Should I limit my demographics to just universities?
What questions would you suggest including in the next round? I’d like to keep the focus on the “availability of environmentally-conscious choices.” But I know that I could go beyond recycling…Should I be asking about employers matching donations for environmental charities or university/employer organized clean up days?
How would you structure the next round of research?