Creating a Place for Myself in the World

Shana Moreno, Pretrial Services Officer, Court Services Program, Diagnostic Unit

We work 40 hours a week – that’s 2,080 hours a year we spend at work. For most, our jobs are pretty consuming and, I hate to say it, sometimes can be monotonous. Therefore, it is a privilege when employees have the option to be involved in extra activities that create constructive diversions and add some new energy into the workday.

Since 2010, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on PSA’s GreenAct Committee. I joined this Committee so I could be part of making eco-friendly changes at my workplace. I don’t profess to be an environmentalist, but I hear enough on the news about the causes and effects of climate change that I know we all have a role to play to make things better. I thought if I could create a small place for myself in the world to help make a difference, why not start in a place where I am most of the day. 

This interest group was formed as a result of President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13514 of October 5, 2009, for “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance.”  This charged Federal Government agencies “to establish an integrated strategy towards sustainability in the work place and make measurable strides toward reduction in the production of greenhouse gas emissions.”

PSA is a very small Federal agency so our contribution to pollution and greenhouse gases is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Still, PSA took on the challenge of bringing interested and talented employees together to spread the word about eco-friendly practices within the workplace. The Committee has managed to get numerous measures into place, but what’s just as important is the difference it has made for me personally.

I’ve come to appreciate how much my colleagues care about their environment.  The Committee suggested several measures that were implemented because they were considered sustainable and energy efficient. We asked employees to do things differently, like using recycled paper for desktop printing and placing paper recycle bins in several places on each floor. We also undertook light-construction ecological upgrades to our facilities, including installing new toilets and motion sensitive faucets that utilize less water, hand blowers and energy efficient lighting. 

One of our most interesting projects was the waste management survey that we did in 2011. We visited each unit within the Agency and performed a visual evaluation of how many office items were lying around and not being used, like outdated computer monitors and keyboards, old and broken chairs, desks, telephones, etc. By doing this survey, Committee members got to speak with office managers and other employees about how to dispose of unused items and provided suggestions of downsizing clutter to preserve work space.

Also, in 2011, I attended a GreenGov Symposium, which was the second time the White House Council on Environmental Quality brought together leaders from Federal, state, local and tribal governments, nonprofit and academic communities and the private sector to identify opportunities around greening the Federal Government. This Symposium lasted three days and it provided educational activities, allowing attendees to share challenges and best practices their agencies adopted for ecological growth. I was excited to bring new ideas back to my agency.

I am grateful to have such opportunities as an employee at PSA and look forward to being a part of the implementation of more ecological enhancements for the future. I believe preserving energy and using only what you need is a start towards a healthier lifestyle. My advice would be to read about climate changes and what causes them. Practice being green at home, on the road, and in your office to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the risks associated with climate change. These changes can save you money; some, such as walking or biking to work can even improve your health! Also, you can get involved on a local or state level to support energy efficiency, clean energy programs, or other climate programs. Here’s to wishing everyone a happy healthy future!

The PSA Writers Bureau is a creative forum for employees to write about PSA from a personal perspective.