Category Archives: Sustainability

Practicing sustainability: How our law office became a certified Green Business

Every time our shredding company, Shred Green, comes to the office to collect the paper we’ve saved, the technician gives us a report on how many trees we’ve spared by recycling. Our last report said the equivalent of 14 trees were staying alive because the Law Office of Jeanne Coleman is dedicated to recycling instead of throwing used paper in the trash. I don’t know if his analogy is referring to large oaks or saplings, but I’m very proud of the fact that our office is a sustainable green business.

Since 2011, we’ve been certified as a Green Tampa business. The designation comes from the Sustany Foundation, which started an initiative with the city of Tampa under Mayor Pam Iorio that encourages local companies to adopt conservation practices.

The Sustany Foundation, which recently merged with the Sustainable Business Coalition of Tampa Bay, certifies Tampa businesses through an assessment that identifies use of natural resources like electricity and how to increase environmental friendliness. Once sustainability goals are in place and in practice, participating companies earn a certificate as a Green Business.

I’m proud to be a certified Green Business along with the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Florida Hospital Carrollwood, Bayshore Solutions, Bamboozle’s and others that have earned Green Business certificates.

When we first started the process, back in 2011, we adopted methods to save electricity and water and reduce trash. We have a slide show that sits on a table in our reception area that shows what we’ve done. It also shows some of what I’ve added to my home to increase sustainability, like installing rain barrels and solar panels.

Since we now use a shredding company that recycles, every employee keeps a container under his or her desk to stash used paper that will be picked up. We used to only put aside the paper that needed to be shredded; now we also have containers for paper that doesn’t need to be shredded but can still be recycled, like junk mail. This has eliminated a lot of trash! We also use the backs of used paper to print drafts and take notes, and print double-sided copies whenever possible.

We are working on becoming a paperless office and to that end we no longer send monthly invoices through the mail. Instead, we use email to deliver the invoices electronically. The e-filing portal adopted by Florida’s court system in 2013 has also helped; we can now file our cases without making multiple hard copies.

Other practices we’ve adopted: We use LED light bulbs instead of fluorescents and have installed sensors that automatically turn off lights when no one is in the room. We recycle glass and plastic bottles, and don’t use Styrofoam or plastic utensils. In our kitchen, we only use dishes and silverware that can be washed – then only turn on the dishwasher when it’s full!

Our building’s energy efficiency has been increased through added insulation and double-paned windows and we keep the thermostats on timers. And we eliminated yard pesticide spraying for a gentler approach to maintaining the grounds that helps keep chemicals out of runoff.

Chris and I also carpool almost every day and ride bikes whenever we can.

And I’ve planted a Florida native plant garden in our once-vacant lot across the alley. It’s growing in beautifully and I have the pleasure of seeing it every day from my office window.

Nature is why I have a green passion. The desire to be outdoors, looking at plants, animals and birds, inspires where I spend my vacations and most of my leisure time.

At home, I compost and recycle – we’re down to about two bags of garbage per week – and use rain water or well water for irrigation.

I plant and nurture butterfly and hummingbird plants and lately the rewards for my efforts have been flitting in abundance across my yard. There’s now a bumper crop of Monarchs hatching on milkweed, along with numerous Black Swallowtails and Zebra butterflies. Just beautiful!