Then she became a member of APA's Council of Representatives. With the help of Michael Honaker, PhD, APA's chief operating officer, she crafted a motion requiring the association to produce annual reports on its progress toward adopting environmentally responsible practices. Despite some concern about the financial costs of going green, the motion passed in 1998.
"It's important to put some pressure on ourselves," says Winter, author of "Ecological Psychology: Healing the Split Between Planet and Self" (HarperCollins, 1996) and a psychology professor at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.
Today Winter is proud of APA's status as an ever-greener organization. She points to the introduction of a new recycling program as one important change.
APA's head office always had a recycling program giving responsibility for separating trash and recyclables to trash collectors. When USDA Forest Service researcher Patricia L. Winter, PhD, surveyed APA's staff, however, she discovered that few knew the program even existed.
"Some people were actually taking their trash home to put with their household recycling," says Skip Calvert, director of administrative operations at APA.
As a result of the survey's findings, APA switched to a program that requires staff to separate trash and recyclables at their desks. In addition to increasing awareness, this method also decreases the amount of potentially recyclable material spoiled by food or liquids. In the first year alone, APA recycled nearly five tons of paper and put a dent in its trash-collection bills.
Other eco-friendly practices have also made a financial difference. Bathrooms now have motion detectors, which means lights no longer stay on all weekend. New exit signs consume less energy.
Changes are apparent throughout APA. The paper used in the Monitor classified ad section contains 80 percent postconsumer waste, for example, and all of APA's journals use nontoxic inks. APA buys recycled paper, printer cartridges and similar supplies. Frequent reminders urge staff to edit electronically, use mass transit and donate unwanted items. Calvert's office encourages employees to share suggestions on the APA Intranet.
APA's also using its influence to change others. The Convention Office, for instance, encourages hotels to adopt environmentally friendly practices and notes hotels' participation in a "Good Earthkeeping" program in registration materials. Hotels that participate in this program help reduce waste in a variety of ways, such as encouraging guests to use towels or sheets more than one day--a simple move that saves thousands of gallons of water each year.
And other organizations are influencing APA. One tenant in a building APA owns is the World Resources Institute, which has shared many tips for greening APA. The latest? Exploring the possibility of buying "green power" that's produced by windmills or gases emitted from landfill sites once energy is deregulated in the District of Columbia.
For Deborah Winter, the next priority is changing members' attitudes.
"Most psychologists still think that environmental problems are the concern of environmental scientists," she says. "But environmental problems are caused primarily by human behaviors, feelings and attitudes. We can't solve these problems without psychology's help and we really need psychologists to go work on them."
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