Energy Savings in the Home

September 24, 2012

Shawn, Store Green Team Captain

Recently my family purchased a house.  This was a very exciting and stressful experience for us, as I am sure it is for anyone who has moved or purchased a home.  So far, for the most part, everything has been really great.  Our dogs have a yard to run in, we were able to move with without making any holes in the walls, and we really love our new appliances.

However, with any home, even homes that are brand new, there are things that need fixing.  Our home was built in 1983, so there are a lot of things that need fixing.  After paying more than we expected on our first electricity bill, we decided the first major upgrade would to be add insulation in our attic.  It turns out we only had about an inch of insulation instead of a nice, thick layer.  So we headed out to the nearest home improvement store.  After looking around at our options for insulation, we decided to purchase insulation made from recycled materials.  This was a great option because not only is the insulation more environmentally friendly, it is better for our health too.   We still wore masks and goggles while installing the new insulation, but we did not have to worry about breathing in fiberglass fibers or getting the fibers in our skin.  And, if as if that wasn’t enough, it was less expensive too.

We also decided to invest in ceiling fans for a few of our rooms.  That way we can keep our thermostat turned to a slightly higher temperature during the summer and still be comfortable.  We made sure to purchase fans with the Energy Star Rating so we can save on energy costs that way too.

Several other small improvements have come up as well.  I made sure to replace the light bulbs with CFL light bulbs.  They may cost more upfront but the amount of savings during the life of the bulb is well worth it.  We planted a tree in our backyard for some added shade.  It will be a few years before the tree is large enough to provide shade, but it will provide much needed relief from the sun on that side of the house.  The weather stripping around our front door has been replaced.  This was a quick and inexpensive way of making sure that the cool air being generated by our air conditioner wasn’t just being sucked out of the house.  And of course come this winter, there won’t be a cold breeze blowing through the front door either.

There are times though when a cool breeze is welcome.  Just yesterday I had screens put in all the windows.  Because the weather is starting to turn, we were able to open our windows to let in some natural airflow.  And with that, our air conditioner was turned off completely!

Here at Harmons we try to be the best at getting better.  There are always ways to improve.  So look around your house and see if you can find ways to reduce your energy costs.  Not only is it the right thing to do, it will save you money too.

Paper Shredding at City Creek Today

August 23, 2012

Have a bunch of papers, maybe with sensitive material, that you need to get rid of safely? Bring them by Harmons City Creek today until noon and Rocky Mountain Document Destruction will shred the paper for free.

Curbing the Contamination

August 21, 2012

Shawn, Store Green Team Captian

One of the ways Harmons knows if we are doing well at recycling is tracking our diversion rate.  That is, how many tons of waste are we diverting from a landfill to a recycling facility.  If we did not do any recycling, we would have a 0% diversion rate.  Through our current efforts many of our stores that are able to recycle and compost are somewhere around a 60% diversion rate.  Our goal at right now is to get to 75%, and our ultimate goal is to become a Zero Waste Facility.  In order to be considered a Zero Waste Facility, we need to reach a 90% diversion rate.  So far our Distribution Center is the only part of the company to reach this amazing goal.

One of the greatest culprits preventing us from reaching our goals is contamination.  When a load of recycling materials is contaminated it can no longer be recycled and it will be taken to the landfill.  Therefore, a contaminated load does not get counted as part of our diversion rate.  To make matters worse, it costs the company extra money because we have to pay extra transportation costs to take the waste to the landfill.  And because the load is transported by truck, we contribute more air pollution too.

Contamination can be many different things.  In a recent contaminated load from one of our stores, there was a broken pallet in the load.  We have also had loads with produce, mayonnaise, and other food stuff acting as the dreaded contaminant.

The best way to prevent contamination is to make sure you throw waste into the correct place.  Have both the blue recycling bin and a garbage can near your work area so you are not tempted to just throw everything into the recycling bin.  Make sure you are aware which bags of waste are recycling and which ones are trash so you don’t throw the wrong bag into the comingle compactor.  Make sure to scrape out containers as completely as possible.  Not only will this ensure little contamination makes it into the recycling can, it will also ensure you aren’t wasting product and contributing to shrink.  In short, take an extra second to think about what you’re throwing away.  If it can’t be recycled, it’s garbage.

Also be aware of contamination at home.  These same concerns apply to recycling everywhere.  At my house I have both a garbage can and a bin (conveniently, it’s green) for recycling.  It’s important to throw the items away in the correct bin.  You may not be able to track a diversion rate at home, but the combined effect of everyone recycling properly can make a huge difference to our environment and the longevity of our landfills.

Measuring & Rewarding the Green Standards

July 20, 2012

Shawn, Store Green Team Captain

My name is Shawn Davis. I am the People Support Manager at Harmons District and I am also the Green Team Captain at my store.

Green Teams can be found in every Harmons. We help make sure that information and education about our Being Green program is given to all of our associates.

As part of our responsibilities, we meet once every month to talk about what’s working and what’s not when it comes to being green. We brainstorm ideas to get more of our associates to participate, to get the word out about our efforts, and review the results for how well we have done the past month for diverting waste from the landfill to a recycling facility.

One of the most important tools the Green Team has to ensure our stores are doing all we can to recycle and compost is the Green Team Audit. We split up the team into groups and each group is assigned a department or two. Once in the department, the team members physically dig through the garbage and recycle bins. It can be a yucky job sometimes, but it’s the only way to ensure we are recycling and composting properly. Each department gets a grade and the store as a whole gets an average grade.

The Green Team Audits let us know which departments need more help to recycle and compost. They also can help encourage departments to do better by setting goals to reach for the A grade. We can even challenge departments to compete to see who can recycle better at the next audit. Can you imagine a Bakery and Delicatessen trying to out-recycle one another?

At the meetings held at District, we always end by conducting our R-Card Drawing. R-Cards are given to those associates who are caught “Being Green” by recycling, composting, turning off lights, doing the dishes, and other helpful Being Green initiatives. The associate who received the R-Card wins $25.00 and the manager or Green Team Member who gave the card receives $5.00. It’s one of the ways we can thank associates for helping Harmons be the best at getting better when it comes to Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling.

Happy Earth Day!

April 22, 2012

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

One Earth Day tradition at Harmons is to cut out the use of plastic bags for the day. Today all stores will offer only paper or reusable bags instead of plastic. Harmons City Creek and Emigration Market already do this on a daily basis. At other stores, our great customers continue to have a tremendous impact on decreasing the use of disposable bags by consistently bringing in reusable bags. Thank  you!

Have you noticed the waste diversion chart in your favorite Harmons store? Look for a chart posted in your store that shows how that location is doing with diverting waste from the landfill through programs like commingle recycling and composting.

We hear the word, but what does it mean?

September 2, 2011

Cindy, Green Team Member

When I was asked to write this blog on sustainability I asked myself, “What does that really mean?” As I told you before I’ve always believed that reducing, reusing and recycling is the responsibility of us all in our daily lives, however, there is much more to it than that. Webster’s definition is: “The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources and thereby supporting long term ecological balance.” In 1958 President Theodore Roosevelt said, “I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use our natural resources, but I do not recognize the right to waste them or rob by wasteful use, the generations that come after us.” In the 70’s the term sustainability began to be used to support this ideal. There must be equilibrium and limits in our growth in order to preserve those places on Earth that are vital in sustaining life on the planet such as wetlands, forests, prairies and oceans. As the non-profit organization BSB says, “Nature can survive without Humans but Humans cannot survive without Nature.”

So that being said, what can we do? It might seem that something that affects the entire world is much too broad for any one of us to do anything about. Think of this, if you were to receive just one penny from every person on the planet you would have 70 Million dollars! Now that makes your penny seem to be worth something! So if each of us can just think twice before we add something to the landfill that could be recycled, or over-water our lawn, or drive as little as possible, we are adding our penny to the pot. The idea of sustainability has been around for many years and we are finally as a society recognizing that we can and must do something in order to preserve the beauty and life giving resources we take for granted every day. Businesses like Harmons who practice what they preach and are willing to implement workable ideals throughout their company are a huge step on the path to sustaining. I will talk about ways that Harmons is doing this in future blogs. If the employees can take the message of simply recycling home to their families we have given them a valuable and long term gift! I realize now why this concept is so much a part of who I am because of the information that has been pumped into my head throughout my life. I think we lose sight of the ideal through the materialism we have all around us, so take a minute to appreciate the magnificent mountains all around us or the beauty of the sunset when you’re not on vacation or the zucchini your neighbor left on your doorstep! Pitch in your penny to ensure that the beauty of the simple things will be there for generations to come.

Hello Harmons’ “Hippie”

July 21, 2011

Cindy, Green Team Member

Hi, my name is Cindy. I am in my 9th year of service with Harmons and I have spent all of that time at the Floral Design and Distribution Center. In that time I have seen a lot of changes and growth here. I have learned so much and now have the privilege of purchasing the beautiful flowers you see at Harmons.

When I first started I noticed that the Distribution Center was not even recycling the cardboard like the stores did. This bothered me because of my personal belief that we all need to do our part to reduce, reuse and recycle! Thirty years ago when I moved out on my own I started to recycle, this was back when it was not cool to do so! I would have to save it up and take it to BFI just off 3300 South and 900, ironically called Rocky Mountain Recycling now and where some of the recyclables from Harmons are sent. The employees there would look at me as if I was crazy and tell me that I really didn’t have enough to get money for it, I would have to explain on each of my monthly trips that I just wanted the material to be recycled and did not expect to get paid for it. I can’t begin to tell you how happy it makes me that we have come so far as to have a bin right at our homes (most of us anyway) where we can separate our trash and have recycling ability at our fingertips!

I am proud to be a part of Harmons’ efforts to do their part towards reducing our carbon footprint. I am a mother of two and have four wonderful grandchildren. I am in hopes that through education and the efforts of us all we can create a better world for my loved ones and yours for now and many generations to come. You can call me a “hippie”; I make tye-dyed clothes for fun, listen to the Grateful Dead, and have been trying to save the world one plastic bottle at a time, but the mission of sustainability that Harmons is committed to goes far beyond saving the whales! Please join me in learning ways that we can all make a difference and what the Associates at Harmons are doing to have a positive impact.

Amazing (and stylish) examples of reuse

June 9, 2011

Carrie, Green Team Member

This will be my last regular post in the Sustainability category because I will switch to another topic I am equally as passionate about. You’ll meet the new person in a couple weeks, and I assure you that this person is very committed to sustainable practices both at Harmons and at home. I want to leave you with something fun today and challenge you to beat these efforts . . .

When talking about the three R’s, we seem to focus on the recycle piece most of the time instead of the first or second words. We have a few ladies in our community who have found creative ways to reuse grocery bags and are great examples of the second R – Reuse.

We don’t know who the first two ladies are, but their sense of style and colorful approach to festive outfits is very impressive. These photos were sent to us by our friend Continue Reading »

Successful E-Scrap Event

May 26, 2011

Carrie, Green Team Member

A big thank you to all of the customers who participated in the recent E-scrap collection event. Harmons partnered with Sims Metal Management, Swift Transportation and Special Olympics Utah to offer electronic and scrap metal recycling opportunities to residents at Harmons locations from Roy to St. George. More than 70 volunteers gave of their time and energy to help collect and transport everything dropped off during the one day event. Through great community support and awareness, 58,392 pounds (or 29.2 tons) of electronic waste and scrap metal was diverted from the landfill. Most items were free to drop off with a charge for only old tube TVs and CRT monitors. The proceeds from the event were donated to Special Olympics Utah and Harmons customers helped to raise $6,775.

Thank you to all who participated or volunteered for making this a successful recycling and diversion event. Thank you also to our recycling partners, like the Recycling Coalition of Utah and Momentum Recycling, for helping to get the word out. Continue Reading »

Scrap your unwanted electronics & help one of our favorite organizations!

May 10, 2011

This Saturday, May 14th, Harmons will be hosting an electronic recycling event at 6 store locations. This is your chance to get rid of all your old and unwanted electronics and help our friends at Special Olympics Utah at the same time.

We are partnering with Sims Metal and Swift Transportation to offer community residents an opportunity to responsibly dispose of electronics and metals. A wide range of items will be accepted including: stereos, computers, cell phones, microwaves, metal shelving and more. The event is free for all items except old tube TV’s and CRT computer monitors. A voucher, purchased in advance for $10 from any Harmons Business Center, is required for the two exception items. (Vouchers will be $15 the day of event.)

All proceeds from the event will go to Special Olympics Utah. Volunteers from Special Olympics Utah will also be assisting with the collection. If you would like to join in on the volunteer efforts sign up at http://sout.vsyshost.com/.

The collection event will be held this Saturday, May 14th from 9am to 2pm at the following Harmons locations: Brickyard, Draper, Cougar, Orem, Roy and St. George.