Conserving natural resources requires everyone's support
Marcus Wheeler, a recreation specialist for USAG Benelux's Directorate of Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation, tosses a bottle into the bin at the Recycling Center on ChiAfA..vres Air Base.

CHIEVRES, Belgium - As soon as you enter the garrison each morning, you are already interacting with the environment, Benelux environmental officials said.

That's why identifying ways to reduce environmental impact by ChiAfA..vres Garrison employees takes individual participation throughout the command, said Philippe Dumont, chief of U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Environmental Division.

"Each of us can make a positive impact by looking at the work we already do and turn it in a way that is more environmentally friendly," Dumont said. "Each of us has expertise in our daily activities. Now we must ask how these activities can enhance the garrison's collective efforts to reduce energy consumption and solid waste, which are the significant aspects of our environmental management system."

The recently established environmental management system targets these focal points by educating employees what they can do at work to help, said Sabine Schneider, USAG Benelux EMS manager and environmental engineer.

"What should drive us to increase our environmental performance is not our garrison's requirement that we do so, it's the benefits we will all see," Schneider said. "These benefits include sustainability, cost reduction and better use of scarce resources."

Schneider said the first step is sorting trash into the proper recycling bins for cans, glass, paper and plastic located in each building. Focusing on basic environmental stewardship, she said, is a good guideline for someone looking to identify ways to be more eco-friendly.

"Turn off computer monitors at the end of the day, and make sure the lights are out any time you leave the office," Schneider said. "Print on both sides of the paper, or use the other side of paper that may already be in the recycle bin. Consider reducing the number of trash bins per office, which cuts down on the number of plastic bags needed daily to replace bags that are often not full."

It's easy to measure results of energy conservation at home because of the money saved on monthly energy bills over time, said Linda Bergo, lead management and program analyst for USAG Benelux.

"At home you pay for it, it's easier to see a direct connection between conservation and cost savings, for example," Bergo said. "At work you don't have that direct interaction, but energy conservation efforts make a significant impact when combined with the efforts of other employees. It might be harder to see than at home, but I know that the steps I take at work for energy conservation is affecting change for the garrison."

Dumont recommended keeping in mind the adage "reduce, reuse and recycle" - in that order.

"First, try to reduce the amount of waste or content you are producing," he said. "Once you have done that, reuse what you have already produced, such as printing on the other side of scrap paper. Finally, once you can't reduce or reuse anymore, then recycle what you have."

Success in reducing the garrison's environmental impact does not only depend on the Environmental Division, Dumont said, but also "on each employee, department, division and unit."

Page last updated Wed March 3rd, 2010 at 09:53