Captain Planet!

Captain Planet

I really hate to …

  1. … sound like a know-it-all
  2. … be in the spotlight, and
  3. … toot my own horn

That’s not multiple choice. I hate all these things. So why I chose a profession for 17 lots of years that would end up putting my picture in the daily newspaper, next to my actual name, I still have no good answer for.

It was with mixed emotion, then, that I agreed to be featured in my company’s “Champions of the Planet” feature on our intranet, undoubtedly to be seen by a large portion of our 4,000 employees. I agreed to do it, mostly because I thought the stuff I do to be green at work was simple and might be easily adopted by others.

It showed up on the intrawebs this week. Thought I’d share with y’all what I told them. (And yes, they actually ran it with this magazine-style feature photo):

The Aflac Green Committee recognizes Brad Barnes, field force writer and editor, as one of Aflac’s Champions of the Planet. Brad has been with the company four years, commuting to work by scooter and by bicycle in good weather. His dedication to go the extra mile not only with his commute but also in restoring the historic residential architecture of Columbus has made him one of our champions.

What does it mean to you to be green?
There’s no way to answer this without it sounding like a platitude. But it’s honestly the only way to go, to do right by the planet. My wife and I don’t even have kids, so it’s not like we’re trying to ensure quality of life for them. We feel that life is a gift, though, and want to treat it graciously.
How did you get interested in environmental sustainability?
I’ve always recycled. It was always just as easy to throw a can in a blue bin as it was to throw it in the proper trash. That just evolved into reducing waste little by little, to the point where I was storing cardboard and driving it myself to sketchy looking recycling plants before the city of Columbus built the current drop site.
What do you do to be green at home?
We’ve been renovating an old mill house since 2003, and we’re consistently making sustainability-based decisions. Last year I installed permeable pavers in the driveway, to prevent added water runoff to the nearby Chattahoochee River. We renovated our master bath with recycled glass tile, a dual-flush toilet and a water-saving showerhead (which doesn’t seem to sacrifice any water pressure). I recently built a storage shed with materials that were probably 50 percent scrap — and it looks awesome.
Do you do anything to be green at work?
I brought in a coffee mug to avoid using polystyrene cups. I definitely recycle aluminum cans and white paper. I use plates at the cafeteria instead of foam, when practical. When I eat at my desk, I use my own silverware instead of plasticware. And unless it’s raining outside or below 37 degrees, I drive a scooter to work, which gets about 80 mpg at about 1/10th the cost of a Prius.
What are some easy things that you do that others could adopt?
Everything I mentioned above is easy for anyone to do — with the exception of the scooter and even that’s more practical than most people think.
What is your favorite green website?
Mother Nature Network’s is great, and I’m not just saying that because Aflac sponsors it. Mostly I’m pretty website-neutral and obsessively Google-search topics to draw from a variety of sources. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw in a plug for the blog that my wife and I started to write about our own sustainable living adventures:
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