Take the "Earth Day Challenge"

Cities Management and Dovetail Partners are encouraging all Minnesota Businesses to take simple steps to function a little greener this Earth Day


(Mpls, MN) – In honor of Earth Day (April 22), property management company Cities Management and environmental think-tank Dovetail Partners have teamed up to challenge Minnesota’s business community to pledge to make at least one small change toward operating in a more environmentally friendly manner.


Kermit the Frog famously said “it isn’t easy being green,” but Cities Management and Dovetail Partners are proving that “going green” doesn’t have to be difficult. They have developed 10 Simple Steps that any business — from Minnesota’s Fortune 500 companies to small home-based offices — can take to operate more sustainably. This Earth Day, they are challenging all Minnesota businesses to pledge to do at least one of these:

  1. PLANT SOME GREEN: Something as simple as plants in the office can add color and life to a room, while also cleaning the air. Green options include bamboo and areca palms, the Boston fern or peace lilies. Spider plants are the best indoor air cleaners, and azaleas can remove chemicals and perfume from the office. A note of caution: over-watering any plant can cause mold growth and create an unhealthy situation, so hydrate plants with care.
  2. SET UP A RECYCLING CENTER: Convenience is the key to get employees recycling. Place paper recycling receptacles at every desk, as well as central recycling cans in the copy and mailroom. Provide bottle, can and plastic recycling near vending machines and in lunchrooms. Recycling printer cartridges is often free, and recycled replacement cartridges are often less expensive than buying new.
  3. DO MORE VIRTUAL TRAVEL: Make greater use of teleconferencing technologies in order to reduce long distance travel. Whether driving or flying, trips of just a few hundred miles can result in hundreds of pounds of emissions.
  4. STOP PHANTOM POWER LOSS: Computers left on overnight can eat up to $100/year in wasted electricity. Use power strips, so employees easily turn off all equipment — including idle chargers for cell phones and laptops — with one button at the end of the workday. Anything with a power light on is using energy when it is not being used.
  5. CHOOSE GREEN OFFICE SUPPLIES: Look for materials that can be repurposed or that have recycled content – including office supplies or break room items. Replace any styrofoam or plastic cups in the break room with paper or with reusable glass mugs. Choose rechargeable batteries and look for products that are made without polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics.
  6. GO “GREEN” WHEN YOU CLEAN & BREATHE EASIER: Cleaning products can give office workers a big headache (or worse problems for those with chemical sensitivities.) There are “spit and shine” alternatives widely available from cleaning companies that specialize in environmentally safe cleaning. Copy, fax and imaging machines can also impact indoor air quality. A strategically placed air purifier in the copy room can help staff breathe easier.
  7. MAKE CONSERVATION A PRIORITY: On average, one office employee uses $300 worth of office supplies annually. You can reduce environmental impacts and costs through the use of duplexing, centralized office supply storage, and – most importantly – only buying what you know you will use. Or, go a step further, and develop a conservation policy that goes hand-in-hand with other workplace expectations in the company handbook.
  8. USE BODY LANGUAGE: Reduce energy use and water consumption by installing motion activated technologies to control lights and water faucets.
  9. JOIN THE FUN: Look for volunteer opportunities where employees can join with others to benefit the environment. Many communities plan events around Earth Day, and if you can’t find one to join, start your own First-Annual Earth Day Celebration!
  10. ASSIGN A “GREEN GURU”: Give an employee responsibility for conducting quarterly “green audits,” including reviewing your energy costs (and hopefully celebrating your energy savings after implementing some of these tips!) Ask your Green Guru (or a green committee) to research and recommend new initiatives for your workplace, whether it’s joining a car pooling program or recommending energy efficient office equipment. Encourage familiarity with life cycle assessment tools and life-cycle thinking that can inform environmental decisions.
  11. BONUS! WHAT’S YOUR ENVIRONMENTAL IQ? More than 10,000 individuals — from high school students to adults, policy makers and foresters — have taken an annual Environmental Quiz. Now in its 22ndyear, the quiz helps narrow the gap between often-inaccurate perceptions and realities about environmental issues. Link towww.forestinfo.org/teaching_unit/env-quiz or visit www.dovetailinc.organd search for “environmental quiz” to test your Environmental IQ.

“Even little changes — multiplied across many companies — can make a big difference,” says Kathryn Fernholz, executive director, Dovetail Partners. “Minnesotans tend to be environmentally conscious already in their homes, but may not think about the sweeping impact that eco-friendly initiatives can have in their workplaces. Businesses in our state have a tremendous opportunity to put in place large-scale changes that have the potential to dramatically improve environmental performance and promote values that are important to our community.”


“Cities Management is proof of this,” adds Traci Lehman, president, Cities Management. “What began as rudimentary office recycling efforts 20 years ago has dramatically transformed our company today. We’ve made numerous company-wide changes — everything from redesigning office space to implementing sustainable staff policies, and even encouraging telecommuting — that have created a more energy-efficient, profitable and stable workplace.”




About Cities Management

Founded in 1982, Cities Management (www.citiesmanagement.com) is a Minnesota corporation that manages homeowner associations, townhomes, condominiums, cooperatives, and single family home communities in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro area, Milwaukee and Western Wisconsin.  Cities Management has won numerous awards for its sustainable business practices, including the Minnesota Environmental Initiative’s award for “outstanding achievement, small business category” and the Minnesota Multihousing Association’s MADACS award for its “Green Earth Initiative.”


About Dovetail Partners
Dovetail Partners (www.dovetailinc.org) provides authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use, and policy alternatives. Dovetail is comprised of a highly skilled team that fosters sustainability and responsible behaviors by collaborating to develop unique concepts, systems, models and programs. Dovetail Partners is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.


Editor’s Note: Interview sources available to discuss the Earth Day Challenge include Kim Carlson, founder, Cities Management, and author of “Green Your Work;” Traci Lehman, president, Cities Management; and Kathryn Fernholz, executive director, Dovetail Partners.


Please contact Janine Hanson (janine@janinehanson.com or 651-485-8782) to schedule an interview.