Category Archives: Green Initiatives

ErgotronHome: Tiny Home Expo showcases creativity

eh_tiny-houses_blog_main

Our Global Social Media Manager, Adam Best, reports on the newest residential construction trend for ErgotronHome™:

There was a huge turnout for the first (hopefully) annual Tiny Home Expo in St. Croix Falls, WI in  October.

Attendees toured models representing the entire spectrum of tiny homes: from bare-bones fishing shacks to luxurious models whose interiors looked like something out of a Better Homes & Gardens article.

Presenters Kim Kasl and Emily Koechel Gerde shared stories and tips with an eager audience, and fielded questions from those curious about the lifestyle.

There were plenty of brochures and builders available to inform and inspire, plus live music to keep the Expo festive.

To me, the most interesting part of the Tiny Home lifestyle is how creative the owners are in solving challenges. Think about it: you need a place to sleep, prepare and eat food, relax and work… all in maybe 150 square feet! There’s really no other choice; you have to innovate!

I was especially curious to see how they treated computing and other technology use in the tiny home. While wall mounts for TVs were obviously necessary, I saw some other opportunities to maximize vertical space.

For example, what about a family tech compartment? The ErgotronHome Hub 24 folds up to a tiny footprint (just 24.8″ w × 16.5″ h × 3″ d) with ease. Or perhaps the ErgotronHome Lift24, a height-adjustable laptop stand that tops a table or counter, and then folds up to be stored away when not in use.

Making every square foot count isn’t just about how tiny you can make things. It’s also about how productive and efficient you can be while using those things.

tiny-home-3 tiny-home-2tiny-home-1

 

Earth Day: A great time to reuse, recycle…

© stgonline.us

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that only 12.5% of e-waste is currently recycled? E-waste, of course, being the electronic gadgets, etc. du jour that somehow become immediately obsolete seconds after we use them. Who doesn’t have extra keyboards, extra cords, extra phones, and heaven forbid, gasp, an old CRT?

Earth Day is always a great day to remember these e-wasters and make a plan to dispose of them posthaste!

In the document, “11 facts About E-Waste,” DoSomething.org reminds us that e-waste represents 2% of America’s trash in landfills.

Fortunately, there are groups like Dosomething.org that are helping us become responsible e-citizens, and that organizations exist that will analyze “e-waste” to determine if it is waste at all. Here at Ergotron, 100% of our e-waste is recycled through an outlet that either gets these materials back in circulation or recycled for materials recovery.

Joanne P., contacted us one day about a resource she found helpful. If you are a Verizon customer, they have a program that provides a safe way to dispose of unwanted electronic devices, and they’ll reward you too. Best Buy does something similar, accepting nearly all electronics and large appliances at no charge.

Looking for other outlets? Spring and Fall are two seasons for neighborhood cleanups. Agencies and businesses come together to help neighbors recycle everything from construction waste to, you guessed it, e-waste. Contact your local recycling center to learn about dates scheduled in your neighborhood.

Of course, there are county-wide organizations that accept your used e-waste all year long. Sometimes for a fee. Still, spending a few dollars to keep it out of a landfill is a good thing.

Each year at the Minnesota State Fair the DNR creates an Adopt-a-River Sculpture create a sculpture out of all the things they dragged out of the Mississippi River. It’s astounding. If you are faced with the choice of the garbage can, the river, some ditch on a remote country road or spending a few minutes researching local resources online, please choose online!

You could even organize your own event, or partner with a local recycler like we did yesterday morning to help celebrate Earth Day. It was surprisingly easy to find a few volunteers, communicate it to the company, and gather up the 330 plus pounds of e-waste.

In the end, Earth Day is always a good reminder…whatever your waste is, recycle responsibly.

Bring on the stinky shoes…America Recycles Day shoe drive at Ergotron

By Denise Luther, Sr. Graphic Designer @ Ergotron

In honor of America Recycles Day today, Ergotron employees were asked to drop off shoes of all types, sizes and styles, in any condition, in the Ergotron lunchroom.

Shoes donated as part of the program are being collected by the Adult Training Habilitation Center in conjunction with Recycling Association of Minnesota, and will either be separated for reuse or recycled into new products.
 
I wasn’t sure what the response to this unusual request would be, but Ergotron employees stepped up to the challenge. Each morning the collection box was piled high with old cowboy boots, sneakers, well-loved slippers, and party shoes that have dropped off the guest list.
 
My teachable moment came when I was doing a bit of research for this blog and found a link to Nike’s ReUse A Shoe drive (on the EPA’s WasteWise site). I did not know that my local Nike store collects used sneakers and recycles them into sports flooring, equipment and clothing.

And guess what Nike? According to today’s Greenbiz post, “Puma is exploring how to make shoes, t-shirts and bags that are either compostable or recyclable.” Good to know.

Who knew shoes were so, well, multi-functional? Are there any other sites you have found? Share your resources with us!

Vampire power sucking you dry?

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Ergotron is tacking the unruly vampires that sneak around our offices and our homes. They suck energy from everything plugged into our electrical outlets. Laptops. Monitors. Printers. Devices. Appliances.

Fortunately, no garlic needed in fighting these bad boys. Some simple proactive tips can save businesses and the homeowner a significant amount of money each year off the electric bill.

Continue reading

TerraCycle: Win/Win

Denise Luther, Sr. Graphic Designer @ Ergotron

Those of you who read Inc. magazine and GreenBiz.com have probably already heard of Tom Szaky, CEO of TerraCycle. Tom writes a blog for Inc. called “The Eco-Capitalist” and his company has been featured several times on GreenBiz.

The newest venture from TerraCycle is piloting this year at Home Depot, Petco, OfficeMax, and Best Buy stores in New York and New Jersey. Thinking way outside the box, at The Big Box. Check it out!

Response to Bill Read’s Review of the LX Arm

Carrie Schmitz, Manager of Engineering Publications @ Ergotron

I just read a review by Bill Read on Ergotron’s LX Dual Desk Mount Arm at billread.com, Ergotron LX Dual Desk Mount Arm Review.  

It was good to know that overall, he found the system “versatile and strong,” the very features that distinguish our products from the competition. And he was right in pointing out that the LX Arm reclaims valuable real estate on a desk; for some people, having a neat, well-organized work environment can alleviate stress and promote productivity (frankly, I’m not one of them).

While gaining desk space is a nice bonus to having an LX arm, the real impetus behind its design is to place notebook and flat panel monitor screens at a viewing height, distance and angle where they will help prevent undue fatigue and strain to the user. Having an advanced understanding of computer ergonomics, Bill took full advantage of the arm’s inherent flexibility to set-up a work station outside the usual recommendations (pigeon hole, in his lingo), but for most people, adding a separate keyboard is the best choice in an office configuration like his.

In his previous blog entry, “Sit Better, See Better”, http://www.billread.com/, Bill corrected some common misconceptions about computer use, provided excellent guidance and referenced the workstation planner on Ergotron’s website as being in line with his experience as a computer consultant.

The very cool thing about the LX arm is that it makes all those ergonomic guidelines achievable! As he said in the review of the LX, “the two arms have a great range of motion . . . swing either of them up and totally out of the way. . . [They] articulate easily, but stay put where you need them to. You can tweak away at display position with little effort.”

The importance of his observations lies in the fact that there is a direct correlation between the range and motion of the LX arm and the height requirements of 90% of people working on computers. Not only that, but the arm can be adjusted according to the size and weight of mounted equipment. This adds up to total customization. I’m not sure that this point was clearly communicated by the product manual, so as the person responsible for its publication I’d like to make amends with an explanation and a fix.

His comment about planning ahead, and thinking about how the arms will articulate is well taken.

In creating instructions, we try to find a balance between too much information and not enough (people don’t tend to like manuals). And because our products are purchased by people across the globe, we try to provide instructions that either require no text (based on the IKEA model), or include multiple languages. That’s why he found three manuals packaged with the LX.

But change is afoot. As part of Ergotron’s green initiative, we have embarked on a project to package a single, quick start “set-up and go” guide which illustrates an overview of the assembly and includes a website address where more comprehensive instructions reside. It’s a rolling change which will affect the LX Series sometime in the next quarter. Cutting down on the number and size of product manuals is a good thing for the environment and should help us avoid any more scenarios where the customer resorts to the “eeny-meeny-miny-moe” method of installation!

If there is one challenge we at Ergotron find most frustrating, it’s that the general public doesn’t often realize that they can tailor their work station to fit their needs. Since they don’t expect their monitor to move up and down 13 inches, pan side-to-side, rotate from landscape to portrait, or tilt with the touch of a finger, they don’t try to do it, and that’s sad, because if you have an LX arm, and you’re not putting it through its paces, you’re missing out on a whole lot of fun.

I have the same product at my desk as Bill, and within the course of a work day, I estimate I’ve moved that monitor in and out of a dozen different positions. This is important, because, as ergonomists will tell you, holding a single posture (static loading) is one of the leading causes of muscle pain among computer users. As the graph below illustrates, the ultimate cost of treating work-related ailments is a burden we all carry.

What's Ailing Corporate America July 2007

At Ergotron, we believe that educating people about these risks is our responsibility as a manufacturer. We started the Comfortable Computing Initiative – http://www.computingcomfort.org/ – to share timely information on a variety of ergonomic topics. You’ll find there, a paper I wrote to address the specific ergonomic issues related to notebook PCs. In it I present the three essential components of ergonomic computer use in terms of an equation: Neutral Posture + Voluntary Motion + Routine Rest = Comfortable Computing.

The prevention of work-related conditions which lead to more serious health problems is part of a general campaign for wellness gaining momentum among businesses both in the United States and abroad. As people become aware of the role ergonomics plays in their efforts to remain healthy on the job, we expect their appreciation for the features built-into Ergotron products will expand accordingly.

This process is helped along thanks in part, to the efforts of people like Bill. We appreciate his review of our product, and encourage him to keep us informed of issues that we can use to improve the interface between humans and their machines.

I hope we hear from even more of you soon too.

 

 

 

Green Giants (and one Sprout)

Denise Luther, Senior Graphic Designer @ Ergotron

I have been enjoying the “GreenBuzz” email newsletter from GreenBiz that my friend Michelle told me about. While reading a recent article on EPEAT, the Green Electronic Council’s green computing certification program, I was compelled to click on a link for the Steelcase “Be a Green Giant” initiative.

Not only does this site meet my own aesthetics for beautiful design (the elegant lateral navigation makes for a seamless, holistic visual experience), it also offers practical tips for “creating significant positive change for both people and planet.”

My favorites:

  1. Kick off a program of sustainability at the office. Form a group that focuses on improving environmental and social issues. Make sure to measure activity and impact. After all, you’ll want to celebrate big accomplishments.
  2. Tired of all the greenwashing? Don’t just settle for “green”—look into the full social and environmental impact of the products you use. If you don’t like what you find, consider options that achieve higher standards.
  3. Tired of seeing all those paper cups in the trash? Initiate a recycling program at work—create a contest to see which department can create the least amount of non-recyclable waste. Your recycling bins will see significantly more use.

(Click here for the rest of the 16 tips)

Ergotron has implemented a recycling program at our St. Paul office/warehouse as one of our sustainability efforts.

Carrie Grossman (from our purchasing department) tracks recycling of scrap plastic, wire/cable, TVs, keyboards and power supplies.  Since July of 2008, Ergotron has stopped 8,149 pounds of these materials from ending up in Minnesota landfills. We recycle pop cans and bottles, steel, aluminum, cardboard, plastics, pallets, and more.

We also saved $4,500 in six months by installing energy-efficient lighting.

We are working toward ISO 14001 certification (a global environmental standard) in 2009.

What’s on your “green” to-do list for 2009?

Carrie shows off one of the containers donated by Dakota County to help jump-start our recycling program.

Not-so-big Carrie shows off the giant recycling container donated by Dakota County to help jump-start Ergotron’s recycling program.

 

Is Ergotron “green”?

Jane Payfer, CMO @ Ergotron
JRPAs a supplier partner to many market making PC OEM and display companies around the globe, we’re asked routinely at Ergotron what our “green” initiatives are.

If you’re not green these days, you’re nowhere.

While we have extensive recycling and packaging/containerization efforts going on, I’ve said, and my team thinks I’m using marketing spin, that Ergotron’s products are  beyond green: they are designed for re-use.

I’m not being flippant.  I’m very, very serious.

Many companies these days build their products to be “disposable.”  They build for obsolescence.  They count on a “refresh” cycle to have an annuity business model. Ergotron doesn’t.

Quite the contrary, we build our products to outlive the flat panel monitors, notebooks and large displays they attach to.

We build them so well, we know they frequently outlast two monitors’ fields lives.  We see some factory floors that still have our Command Center arms and pole mounts that were shipped in the early ‘90s. 

How does making something that lasts and lasts to begin with play in today’s green washed discussions? 

What’s the more ecological trade off? 

Building something to last and in so doing, not consuming double raw materials or energy for a second or third time?

Or, building something using sub-standard, but “green” components, and then having to make a second and possibly even third product to deliver the field life of the less green version?

You tell me.

Trade Show Tip: Clean Up Your Act!

Denise Luther, Senior Graphic Designer @ Ergotron

At a recent family reunion, I was talking to my cousin’s wife, who has worked at one of the biggest event graphics companies in the state for the past 20 years. “So how does that feel?” I asked. “Like I’ve spent two decades of my life filling landfills,” she replied. The company used to recycle most of their construction materials and signage, but stopped some time ago. This was horrifying news.

I’ve been happy to discover that one of my vendors, Big Ink, has implemented a Zero-Waste Graphics Recycling Program for their customers. They accept PVC, polystyrene, paper-based materials, acrylics and aluminum. The PVC is turned into plumbing pipe and outdoor furniture, the polystyrene into commercial landscape materials. They also offer what they call Eco-Green Options: biodegradable fabrics and boards, and a fabric with 100% recycled content.

I’m interested to hear about techniques, workflows, materials, vendors from other marketers/designers. The heroes and the villains helping move us all toward more sustainable design practices.