Eco-Challenge update, Eco-Tips

Issue April 2008

Lawyers and law firms who have signed up as Pledge Partners to participate in the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Lawyers Eco-Challenge will be recognized this spring.

The MBA and its Eco-Challenge partner, the Conservation Law Foundation, will acknowledge all Pledge Partners during a special reception to be announced later. Special honors will be given to those lawyers and law firms who have taken unique steps to implement the MBA Green Guidelines or have gone beyond those guidelines.

Currently, more than 50 lawyers and law firms from across the state, from solo practitioners to large firms, have signed up to take part in the Eco-Challenge.

To take part in the Eco-Challenge, lawyers and law firms must sign the MBA Lawyers Environmental Pledge. Visit for more information. In addition, weekly Eco-Tips are being published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and the MBA’s e-Journal.

Here is a sampling of the latest Eco-Tips. All tips and sign-up information are available on the Eco-Challenge Web page.

1. Implement or expand a recycling program at your office. Recycling prevents habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity and soil erosion associated with logging and mining.
If no recycling program exists, contact your local city or town hall and ask for help with starting a program. Visit for more information on recycling programs.
If a recycling program exists, look at ways to increase the variety of items that can be recycled. Move past paper and bottles and cans to plastics, cardboard, batteries and electronic equipment.

1. Foster employee awareness of your environ-mental initiatives by devel-
oping an environment section of your employee handbook and providing training on your environ-mental initiatives as part of your firm’s employee orientation.
2. Send out monthly eco-tips to encourage participation in your firm or company’s environmental initiatives and provide incentives to recognize exceptional performance and creativity from employees.
3. Set up and label a conservation center in a high-traffic area of your office to educate staff about environmentally friendly practices and, if applicable, the office’s participation in the MBA Lawyers Eco-Challenge. The center can be a bulletin board, bookshelf, poster or other materials and can include one or more of the following:
• A copy of the MBA Green Guidelines;
• A list of tips for the office and home;
• A ride-share or carpool chart; and
• Books and pamphlets about conservation and preservation.

Energy conservation
1. Reduce the amount of electricity consumed by computers in your office. For example, computers left on after hours result in 14.4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
• Set computers on timers that shut them down after 30 minutes of being idle.
• Make sure all computers have and use screen savers.
• Instruct everyone in the office to shut down all parts of their computer — including the monitor — when they leave for the day.
2. Adjust your office thermostat to cut down on energy waste. A change in a few degrees in either direction will cut costs and go mostly unnoticed by staff. For example, turn the thermostat down two degrees in the winter and up two degrees in the summer. If that change is barely noticeable by staff, alter the thermostat again.

Environmental conservation
Support local environmental organizations and consider establishing a workplace giving program.

Paper reduction
1. Make an effort to reduce the amount of paper consumed by your office and be sure to reuse existing paper print-outs no longer needed:
• Refrain from printing e-mails when feasible.
• Encourage sharing of phone and reference books
• Use letter-sized paper, files and pouches instead of legal size.
• Create notepads from used paper printed on one side.

Sustainable practices
1. Recycle your old computers or donate them to a local non-profit organization. Most major computer manufacturers offer recycling programs that make it easy to recycle or donate your old computers.
2. Reduce the use of toxic products in the workplace.
• Purchase unbleached paper towels and napkins for bathrooms and the kitchen/cafeteria.
• Buy cleaners for bathrooms and the kitchen/cafeteria with low toxicity and high biodegradability, or clean with natural products such as baking soda, lemon juice, white vinegar and club soda.