So what can a firm that helps people with their finances do to celebrate Earth Day? Actually, we ask ourselves this question all year around and what follows is what we have come up with. Maybe it will encourage you as you think through your choices. Liz and I are avid backpackers and students of the natural world, as are a number of people here in the firm, so environmental issues are very important to us.
Apart from the politically divisive debates about creating new environmental laws, reducing waste has always made sense and considering the total long term cost of a decision, including the waste and energy required is simple common sense. We are continually focusing people on the long term impact of their life decisions, and environmental concerns are part of any long term cost and benefit structure. Like ignoring health care costs or lower risk tolerances as we age, not calculating in environmental costs is a big mistake.
We are very fortunate in that we don’t produce any physical products so our pollution output is tiny compared to most businesses. No factories, no cups, no shopping bags, no products in the refuse bins, no oil and no gas. I wish we could stop the copious amounts of annual reports and proxies we all get and we will continue to push for that, but we do not control that process. We do however consume electricity to run our computers so we look to buy Energy Star rated machines and either power them down or leave them in sleep state depending upon which is recommended for energy efficiency. We use e-documents where possible and when we do print documents and plans all are printed two sided when possible. We shred and recycle all possible paper and carry home other recyclables that our building does not handle.
The most unusual thing we do to help the environment is that every single person in the office carpools or takes the bus. As a firm, for the past five years or so we have bought unlimited King County Transit bus passes for all employees and we have 100% participation in bus riding or carpools and have for a few years. We also donate money regularly to organizations including the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Awareness School.
These are small things really, in the scope of our work, but it truly is small decisions like these that add up to big results over time. That’s the power of compound interest that we are always teaching. C.S. Lewis, the Oxford don, put these concepts together brilliantly when he wrote,
“Good and evil both increase at compound interest. That is why the little
decisions you and I make every day are of such infinite importance.The
smallest good act today is the capture of a strategic point from which,
a few months later, you may be able to go on to victories you never dreamedof”.
~ from Mere Christianity