Inventive & Easy Green Ideas for Making a Big Difference

By Sue Minichiello

AffinEco has a longstanding commitment to the environment and sustainability. In the spirit of spreading the “green” message, here are a few examples of simple and creative green ideas that can have a huge impact. You’ll see ways to reduce paper towel waste, put your used cell phone to work for the environment and produce fresh indoor air, plus a unique corporate campaign that encourages recycling.

How to Use One Paper Towel

13 billion pounds of paper towels are used by Americans every year. And a huge portion of that usage is completely wasteful.

Former Oregon Attorney General Joe Smith wants to put an end to the waste by demonstrating how we can dry our hands using just one paper towel.

The trick is simple: Shake and fold. Shake your hands quickly 12 times over the sink, then fold the paper towel once before drying for maximum water absorption. We’ve tested out his method, and it works! If every American did this instead of using three to five paper towels, it would save 571,230,000 pounds of paper towels a year.

Check out Smith’s entertaining TEDTalk and start shaking and folding today!

What Can Save the Rainforest? Your Used Cell Phone

Deforestation accounts for more greenhouse gas than all of the world’s planes, trains, cars, trucks and ships combined. And as much as 90 percent of the logging that takes place in the rainforest is illegal.

As engineer Topher White explains in his TEDTalk, one of the biggest obstacles to locating illegal logging activity is the inherent noise of the rainforest—the calls of various birds, insects and other indigenous creatures. That natural chorus drowns out the sound of chain saws.

But your used cell phone can change that.

By placing used cell phones in trees designed to detect the sound of chain saws (by specific frequency) and send alerts to rangers in the area, real-time intervention and enforcement of existing laws become possible.

Rainforest Connection is running a program in Indonesia and is looking to start one in Cameroon. Find out how you can turn your used cell phone into a powerful eco-friendly tool here.

How to Grow Fresh Air

The quality of air inside offices, schools and other workplaces is important not only for workers’ comfort but also for their health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) has been tied to symptoms like headaches, fatigue, trouble concentrating and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. And conditions such as asthma and other respiratory illnesses can be aggravated by poor IAQ.

Here’s one solution that reduces symptoms and energy costs while boosting productivity.

In his TEDTalk, researcher Kamal Meattle shows how an arrangement of three common houseplants, used in specific spots in a home or office building, can result in measurably cleaner indoor air. The plants are: Areca Palm, Mother-in-law’s Tongue and Money Plant. With these three plants, Meattle says you can “grow all the fresh air you need.”

His assertion has been proven by various studies testing the use of these plants over the course of 15 years in a 20-year-old, 50,000 square-foot office building in New Delhi, India. The study also showed—as compared to other buildings—a 52 percent reduction in eye irritation, 34 percent reduction in respiratory symptoms, 24 percent reduction in headaches as well as a 20 percent increase in productivity and 15 percent reduction in energy usage tied to ventilation.

So, a nominal investment in plants can turn into a huge boost to your bottom line.

Just for Fun: Happiness Arcade

Dhaka, Bangladesh is a city of 15 million people. The population generates a huge amount of garbage, including countless recyclables that were being thrown away with regular trash. This short video depicts how Coca-Cola got the people of Dhaka to start thinking about recycling with an arcade machine that runs on empty Coke bottles.