Welcome to Week 1 of Earth Month

This week’s theme is REFUSE

Thank you for participating in Earth Month with us! Check out the tips below to instill the first R of the circular economy: Refuse!


The first two tips pertain to the scope of green building and will help you be a green leader.


#1 – Refuse your commute

This means, work from home or use public transit at least once a week. If you’re not yet practicing this, ask your boss for a trial period during Earth Month. Not only are you saving gas money, but you are reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the air that contributes to global warming. Single occupant vehicles create carbon emissions that cause smog in our cities and contribute to traffic congestion.


According to the EPA, every 2.5 gallons of gasoline burned is equivalent to the amount of CO2 one mature tree can absorb in a year’s time.


If you are already practicing an alternative commute, demonstrate your positive impacts by tracking your dollar and emissions savings.  Check out WalletHub’s Telework Calculator, which allows you to input multiple variables about your commute in order to design a personalized work-life balance.

You can also use this tool to help convince your boss that telecommuting has positive environmental and human health benefits!

#2 – Refuse the swing door when a revolving door is present

Every time a door or window opens in a building, the balance of air temperature, pressure, and humidity is disrupted.

A swing door allows leakage of indoor air, which drives up energy consumption. In fact, when a revolving door replaces swing doors, it can save up to 30 percent in energy costs according to Rockefeller University.

You can learn more about this in our CE course titled,“High Performing Building Envelopes for Sustainable Design and Energy Savings”



The following are two tips you can practice at work and at home.

#3 – Refuse coffee pods that must go to landfills

Always choose compostable coffee pods. In our office, we buy the Tayst brand coffee pods. These are rainforest alliance certified and BPI certified 100% compostable.

We put them in our compost bin along with food scraps, paper towels and tissues. Coffee grounds helps add nitrogen to your compost pile, and will attract earthworms to the soil.

#4 – Refuse incandescent bulbs

Most of our office spaces use fluorescent bulbs, but our home fixtures most likely still burn some incandescent bulbs, which are energy hogs and have a short lifespan.

The better choice is to replace spent bulbs with CFL or LEDs. Both of those selections have reduced electricity demand and longer lifespans. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, CFLs and LEDs can use about 25% – 80% less energy than traditional bulbs and can last anywhere from 3 – 25 times longer.




These last two tips address issues we most often confront in our personal lives, outside of the home.

#5 – Refuse plastic straws

It is so important to DITCH THE STRAW.  Contrary to what we want to believe, not all plastic products are recyclable.

Single use plastic straws are NOT recyclable, and they take over 200 years to decompose.

According to Strawless Ocean, we use over 500 million straws every day in America, and most of those end up in the ocean. Being a lightweight plastic, they’re easily picked up by the wind when left on the shore, and blown out of trashcans.


Plastic is estimated to be found in 71% of seabirds and 30% of turtles.


This has huge negative impacts on marine wildlife and ecosystems. You can be the change! Refuse the straw. Or if you need to use a straw, use an alternative straw.

#6 – Refuse single use plastic bags

Similar to plastic straws, these CANNOT go in curbside recycling bins. They must sorted and disposed of separately.

So, remember to bring your canvas bags to the grocery store, and just refuse single use plastic bags! In fact, you can buy reusable produce bags too.



We encourage you to take one of these tips and share the message with your circle of influence!

Next week, we’ll be sharing how to reduce materials to promote the circular economy. Please engage with us on the Green Building Matters Facebook group and let us know what you are refusing this month!