Apparently, there is only one translation and interpreting company in the world that complies with the ISO 14001 standards for Environmental Management*. The issue of the environment has only recently been briefly addressed on Proz, with Niraja Nanjundan’s article Are You A Green Translator? Does this represent apathy on behalf of the translation industry towards environmental issues? I don’t think so.
As a freelancing homeworker, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of blending my professional and personal lives at every level, and this holds true for my impact on the environment too. Our industry is largely made up of small businesses and sole traders, so my hunch is I’m not the only one punching above my weight on green issues.
So I don’t think I really have anything new, exciting or inspiring to offer translators on this. In fact, while I’m sufficiently proud of my green credentials not to feel like I have to list all the wonderful things I do to save the planet, I still possess a suitable degree of embarrassment about the things that I don’t do. So in the spirit of not putting anyone off, I thought I might list some of the quick and easy things I know I should do, but have found difficult to implement for a range of silly and inexcusable reasons. True confessions style – I guess my Irish Catholic upbringing is coming through here 🙂
- Turning off the lights when I leave a room. It’s creepy being home alone in winter. I don’t need every Tom, Dick and Harry in Tooting to know too.
- Using a coffee mug instead of disposable. OK, this applies more to when I was a cubicle dweller. But sometimes, when my collection of mouldy cups had gotten really big and I was gasping for a cup of tea but still couldn’t bring myself to wash up, I’d use a disposable cup instead. (Nowadays I just buy extra mugs and pat myself on the back for saving water.)
- Skipping the foil and plastic wrap. See above – but replace mouldy lunch boxes for cups.
- Leaving a place a little cleaner than when I got there by picking up some rubbish. Ew, no way. I live in London. Most shamefully of all, in my darkest hours I have been known to neatly tuck an empty coffee cup (a disposable one of course) in a corner of the tube. Before you rush to judge me, remember there are no bins on the underground.
- Lowering my thermostat. I really dislike the cold. And don’t tell me to layer up, I’ve heard it from my Dad already.
- Washing my clothes in cold water. It doesn’t work for me. It really doesn’t.
- Using environmentally friendly washing powder. I tried it for a while, and with a range of different products, but finally decided that wearing stained and smelly clothes was doing nothing for my already crumpled freelance image.
- Using bleach-free cleaning products. Yes, I also tried this for a while. I even went down the lemon juice/ white wine vinegar, baking powder and good old elbow grease route for a few especially enthusastic months. But life is too short, and my stained loo and limescale covered shower really started to gross me out after a while. Plus, work started coming in 😉
- Recycling. I’m quite good at this BUT it’s easy as our local council just collects all cans, plastics, clothes, paper and glass in one bag separate to the rest of our waste. Here comes the confesison: I know they just sell this on to other companies to dump in landfill somewhere else, but I still haven’t bothered to make alternative arrangements for my waste collection…
- Switching to a carbon neutral ISP. last time I checked, they weren’t compatible with my Mac (how selfish is that?!) Besides, I’m suspicious about this whole carbon neutral thing.
- Unplugging appliances. I’m just really, really lazy about this. Even though it could save me money.
- Buying less bottled water. I drink a LOT of water, and even though I’ve bought a funky water carrier to fill from my tap at home for when I’m out, I just don’t always feel like carrying it…
- Working out my carbon footprint. I’m convinced quizes like this are rigged to make even the most poverty stricken, non-consumerist, non-electricity using, hermit dwelling hippy look bad, much to the delight of their smug, far-from-perfect programmers. I ran for class president on a passionate and heart-felt “Vote Sarah for a Greener World” campaign when I was 11 years old, I’m well aware of the horrifying, irreversible effects my very existance is having on the planet. (For those of you interested in the political leanings of Irish pre-teenagers in the early 1990s, I should add that I limped in at last place… I could never compete with class cool guy David Wall, who captured hearts and minds with his catchy “vote for Wall, he’s on the ball” rap) [rant over]
So there you go, laid bare yet again. I’m green with plenty of room for improvement, but I’m proud.
By the way, I’ve used the excellent 50 quick and painless ways you can help the environment today post over at Blog Action Day to help me with my confession. Have a look if you’re searching for inspiration.
* they’ve posted waste-reducing tips for other translation companies here, if you’re interested.