The Official PPRC P2 Quiz: Episode 2, The Pollution Menace at Work

Yes, we know ... The title of our newest quiz is a hoky parody of the latest Star Wars movie. But we always think of the P2 angle. Why consume neural energy making up a new title when you can remanufacture an existing one?

OK, here’s the deal: Like last year’s edition, P2 Quiz ‘99 tests what you do and how much you know about pollution prevention in your daily living. But wait! Not only do we have questions about P2 stuff around the house, but we’ve added a section about P2 at your workplace (below). You can take either or both sections of the quiz. The format is the same: click on the button next to your answer for each question.

As for scoring, you better get it right the first time because the quiz will only tally your first answer for each question. If you decide to change your answer, the computer won't count it. To allow the computer to count all your answers, complete all the questions before exploring the outside links to related web sites. If you decide to start over, hit the refresh button on your browser and you'll get a clean slate. You get a full point for a great answer, half a point for an OK one, no points for a so-so answer, and a one-point deduction for answers with little or no redeeming environmental value. There might be a few trick questions scattered around the quiz. Above all, we hope the quiz is a fun way to learn about pollution prevention. Let’s go!


Prelude: The Giveaway Question

Because we’re so Northwest nice, we’ll get you started with a cream puff question. You’ll have to go out of your way to blow this one.

brain1. What Is Pollution Prevention?

Turning off your TV set.
Pollution controls such as catalytic converters.
Changing habits to avoid creating waste in the first place.
Buying products labeled “environmentally friendly.”

Answer Key

     Remember the old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Pollution prevention, or “P2,” means avoiding creation of pollution at the source. It’s a proactive way to protect the environment. If you don’t create waste and pollution in the first place, there is no waste and pollution to deal with afterwards, we can live healthier lives, and take better care of natural resources. Prevention has economic benefits too, because it gets at the inefficiencies that are the root causes of waste and pollution.
     Source: PPRC (that’s us)

Which answer did you select?

A. Add half a point. We don’t work the cultural pollution side of the street, but we can tell you that turning off the TV for one year will save $7-$17 worth of electricity (assuming Northwest rates).
B. No points. Controls deal with pollution after it’s been created. P2 means don’t create pollution in the first place. It’s an important distinction.
C. Add one point. The three R’s: rethink, reduce, reuse.
D. No points. Be wary of vague, feel-good labels that don’t say much. Eco-labels can provide useful information to help you make good purchasing decisions, but it’s important to be informed about who issues product labels and what standards they use to back up their labels.


If You Don't Know Where You're Going...


2. Does Your Workplace Have a 'Green Team'?

Yes, we’ve had to hire a lot of new people lately.
A what?
We have a committee that meets monthly to plan waste reduction projects.
No, management doesn’t see any benefit to it.

Answer Key

     A green team can give some focus to a company’s waste reduction and efficiency efforts. The team can set goals, obtain top management buy-in, market environmental initiatives, serve as a communications link with co-workers, guide implementation, and report on results.
     Tips: Set some specific goals to start with. Don’t be afraid to start small; running a small, manageable project is an opportunity to chalk up an accomplishment and build confidence for taking on bigger projects later. Communicate! Through communication, the green team can allay employee concerns, troubleshoot problems, serve as a forum for trading ideas, and share news about successes.
     Source: “50 Simple Things Your Business Can Do to Save the Earth”
     The Earthworks Group

Which answer did you select?
A. No points. But the Green Team we’re talking about can play a role in orienting new employees on a company’s environmental policies.
B. No points.
C. Add one point. Make sure your Green Team represents all departments.
D. Subtract one point. Show managers the benefits, in waste reduced, efficiency gained and money saved.


What a Turnoff

3. Do You Turn Off Computers, Copiers and Other Equipment Before Going Home?
It’s not necessary, because the computer screen saver will reduce energy use after hours.

Answer Key

     About 25 percent of office computers are left running at night and on weekends. Leaving office equipment running after hours is pure waste. Office equipment accounts for about 7 percent of commercial electricity consumption. That doesn’t include the cost of air conditioning to remove heat buildup caused by office equipment.
     Tips: Monitors are the biggest energy draw on your computer system. If you don’t have an Energy Star computer, turn your monitor off before inactive periods during working hours. Use the “energy saver” button to power down copiers before inactive periods during work hours. When it’s time to replace your office equipment, look for Energy Star computers, monitors, printers, scanners, copiers and fax machines, which automatically “go to sleep” if left unused during work hours. Make sure the power management features are enabled during equipment setup. Consider switching to notebook computers, which are up to 10 times as efficient as desktop computers.
     Sources: Energy Star Office Equipment
     Pacific Energy Center

Which answer did you select?
A. Add one point.
B. Add half a point.
C. No points.
D. Subtract one point. Screen savers do not reduce a computer’s energy consumption. But they may reduce your productivity if you stare at them long enough.


Don't Be a Lightweight

4. Why is Efficient Lighting 'Cool'?
A celebrity said so.
The bulbs come in designer shapes and colors.
Efficient lights reduce heat buildup inside a building.
It casts a pale, bluish light.

Answer Key

     Commercial and industrial lighting accounts for about half of the U.S.’ $75 billion lighting bill. A lot of the money spent on lighting is wasted because of inefficient equipment and poor lighting design. Using high-efficiency lighting and optimizing design could cut commercial and industrial lighting electricity demand by up to half with equal or even greater lighting quality than before. Buildings are systems, and there are spinoff effects of equipment choices. Inefficient lighting throws off heat that must be removed by air conditioning equipment. Efficient lighting can lead to lower cooling bills. For example, a medical equipment manufacturer in Bothell, Wash., cut its cooling loads 2 percent as a result of a lighting retrofit. More efficient use of energy reduces consumption of fossils fuels used to generate electricity. In turn, that leads to reduced emissions of greenhouse gases from power plants running on fossil fuels. That’s why efficient lighting is “cool.”
     Tip: Northwest businesses can get advice on high quality, efficient lighting and lighting design from the Lighting Design Lab,
     Source: Energy Efficient Lighting Association (link is not working as of 4/23/02)

Which answer did you select?

A. No points.
B. No points.
C. Add one point. By choosing efficient lighting and windows, a building can be kept comfortable with reduced energy use for cooling.
D. No points. Fluorescent lights have a bad rap as sources of wan, flickery light. That’s old news. Electronic ballasts have fixed the flickering problem. New lamps with advanced coatings provide warm-hued, attractive light. By carefully specifying lighting equipment, you combine efficiency with pleasant illumination.


5. Does Your Workplace Bring Daylight into its Building?

No. We never know if it’s sunny or cloudy outside.
Here in the Northwest, we’d rather just close the shades and pretend it’s sunny outside.
Ever since we put in the relites, absenteeism has fallen.
Doesn’t matter, I’m on the night shift.

Answer Key

     Designing or remodeling buildings to make optimal use of daylight can reduce the costs of lighting by more than half. More significant from a bottom line perspective, however, is intriguing evidence suggesting that employee productivity, retail sales, and school test scores are higher in buildings lit with natural daylight. A recent study of retail stores, for example, found a strong correlation between skylights and higher sales volume. For a company paying $200 per square foot for labor costs and $2 per square foot for energy, even a 1 percent increase in productivity will completely offset a company’s energy bill.
     Tip: In new and existing buildings, dimming and switching controls can be used to adjust electric light levels downward in response to daylight levels. If carefully designed and operated, controls can reduce perimeter lighting costs and provide for constant light levels throughout the day.
     Sources: U.S. Green Building Council
     Heschong-Mahone Group (click on Daylighting and Productivity Study link)

Which answer did you select?

A. No points. Caves are fun places to visit, but who wants to live or work in one?
B. No points. Hate to tell you this, but there are signs that La Nina is planning an encore.
C. Add one point. Studies show that people prefer natural light.
D. No points. There is evidence that bright light helps night shift workers adapt better to their odd schedules and improve job performance.


Put Your Building on Commission

6. Has Your Building Been Commissioned?

No, it’s a building, not a ship.
Yes, and since then, the ventilation system has stopped blowing ice cold air in our faces in the middle of January.
Yes, and the energy savings will help pay for new equipment we need.

Answer Key

     Building commissioning is a systematic process for ensuring that a building’s lighting, heating, cooling and ventilation systems are working together optimally to meet the building operator’s needs. Doing so prevents energy waste that drives up utility bills and premature equipment replacement costs. More importantly, commissioning can reduce costly absenteeism and tenant turnover caused by an unpleasant indoor environment, or even legal liability for indoor air quality problems. Costs and savings associated with building commissioning vary depending on the building and scope of the commissioning. Here’s one example: An 18-year-old Portland office building was commissioned and deficiencies corrected for $12,700. The work has returned $8,145 in annual energy savings, plus improved indoor comfort.
     Tip: Tip: Get advice on selecting a commissioning agent and deciding on the level of commissioning your building needs. Download “Commissioning for Better Buildings in Oregon,” at The Northwest Energy Efficiency Council offers periodic building operator trainings. Check it out at
     Source: Oregon Office of Energy

Which answer did you select?

A. Subtract one point.
B. No points. A building is a complex system for providing a comfortable, productive work environment. Commissioning protects the value of that investment.
C. Add one point. Happy employees are more productive.
D. Add one point. Why send money to the utility when you can re-invest it in your business?


Papering Over the Problem

7. Does Your Office Print Double-Sided Copies?

No, it’s too much trouble.
We’re going electronic – the paperless office is in our future.
No, but we recycle all our waste paper.

Answer Key

     The typical office worker goes through about 10,000 sheets of copy paper annually, enough to cover 6,500 square feet. We don’t buy paper for the sake of having paper, but for the service it provides: storing and conveying information. By using copy paper more efficiently to provide that service, you can reduce your paper usage – and the energy, water, chemicals, and trees consumed to produce paper. Plus, you’ll reduce your office supply costs.
     Tips: Set copy machines to automatically make double-sided copies of multi-page documents. To minimize confusion, put reminder notes on the machines. Before printing e-mail, ask yourself whether it’s really necessary to have a paper copy. Reuse one-sided copies for drafts or notes. Set up a room where departments can drop off unneeded paper and other office supplies that other departments may be able to use.
     Sources: Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory Cutting Paper Page

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point. We can see you don’t have a one-sided view about paper usage.
B. Subtract one point. Waste not, want not.
C. Add one point. Putting information on-line is a significant opportunity to eliminate unnecessary paper consumption. Keep in mind, however, that paper will remain part of our culture for the foreseeable future. It’s ease of use, portability, and convenience are such that attempts to banish it completely from the office have dim prospects of succeeding. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Minimize waste, but recognize that there will remain situations where paper is the right tool for the right job.
D. Add half a point. First, eliminate wasteful paper use, then recycle.


8. Does Your Office Purchase Recycled Paper?

If we remember to specify it. Otherwise, we buy whatever’s on sale.
We look for high post-consumer content and chlorine-free products.
No, we heard it jams up copying machines.
We’re looking into switching to kenaf paper.

Answer Key

     Purchasing “green” paper products helps close the recycling loop by supporting markets for recovered waste paper. If you know what to look for, you should be able to find “green” paper (we’re talking impact here, not color) that meets your needs. Look for a high percentage of “post-consumer” content, which is the percentage of the paper that comes from materials consumers have recycled. Don’t stop at recycled content, however. Think about buying paper products with reduced impacts throughout the product life cycle. Consider using unbleached paper. Or, if you need bleached paper, look for products that were bleached with minimal or no use of chlorine. Ask suppliers about forest and production practices used to produce the paper they sell. Consider “tree-free” paper made from crop residues or alternative materials such as kenaf, a relative of the hibiscus plant.
     Tip: You don’t have to reinvent the research wheel. Look for handy guides and vendor directories to help you shop for “green” paper. Examples include
     · Co-op America’s Green Pages (
     · WoodWise Directory (
     · ReThink Paper Selector (

Which answer did you select?

A. Add half a point. Try setting up a “buy recycled” program at your workplace. Learn more about what’s in the market, try a few products, and write a strategy with measurable goals.
B. Add one point.
C. Subtract one point. Don’t base purchasing decisions on outdated information. Get the facts. For example, a recent study by the U.S. Conference of Mayors showed that paper with 30 percent post-consumer content performs in copying machines just as well as paper with less post-consumer content.
D. Add one point. You’d be surprised at the alternative materials that are used in paper manufacturing. Examples include sugar cane residue, industrial hemp and cotton rags. Even discarded currency is used, which is one way to keep your money in circulation.


Fuel Lines

9. Is Your Workplace Considering Purchase of Alternative Fuel Fleet Vehicles?

We’re not sure. Where would we buy the fuel?
Aren’t fuels like natural gas and hydrogen dangerous?
No need. Someday, they’ll invent a Star Trek-like transporter device.
Yes, we’re exploring electric, natural gas, propane and other options.

Answer Key

     Why bother with alternatives to gasoline, which is cheap, convenient and widely available? Because gasoline has a dark side. Gasoline is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons that, when burned, emits a noxious brew of pollutants: gases that form unhealthy smog and unsightly hazes, toxins that are known to cause cancer, and carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas. Alternative fuels, some new, some not so new, reduce or prevent many of these harmful emissions. There may be side benefits as well. A Portland bakery, for example, reduced its maintenance costs by switching most of its delivery fleet to propane. Technology is continuing to improve, and in the next few years, many of the world’s leading automakers plan to mass market vehicles powered by fuel cells, gasoline-electric hybrids, and other alternatives to gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines.
     Tip: Federal tax deductions are available for clean fuel vehicles and a tax credit can be taken for electric vehicle purchases. Northwest states also offer tax incentives. Fuel taxes for natural gas and propane are reduced in Washington. Oregon offers a 35 percent income tax credit for alternative fuel vehicles. Idaho exempts biodiesel and ethanol from excise taxes.
     Sources: Alternative Fuels for Fleet Vehicles, PPRC Topical Report
     U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities

Which answer did you select?

A. No points. Many urban areas have refueling stations for propane and compressed natural gas. Refueling sites for alcohols and liquefied natural gas are more difficult to find and not available in some areas. One option is bi-fueled vehicles that run on both gasoline and an alternative. Another is a gasoline-electric hybrid. To find refueling sites, visit the Alternative Fuels Data Center (
B. No points. Take a look underneath your car. There’s a tank filled with a highly flammable and volatile fuel. Yes, some alternative fuels need careful handling, but so does gasoline, whose safety hazards we’ve learned to deal with.
C. No points. Not likely, friend. The scientist who wrote The Physics of Star Trek calculates that “beaming” you from your office to, say, a sales call at a customer’s business would require heating your body to between 100 billion and 1 trillion degrees C. The finance people would probably grumble about negative cost-benefit ratios, so better drop this idea.
D. Add one point. As technology develops, chances of finding alternative fuel vehicles that meet your needs will continue to improve.


Your Work Away From Work

10. If You Were Given the Opportunity to Telecommute, How Often Would You Like to Work from Home?

I’d rather work a 4/40 or a 9/80.
Once in a while, as needed.
Once a week or more.
Sorry, it’s not for me. I’d go stir-crazy staying at home all day.

Answer Key

     For people who work at desk jobs, telecommuting (also known as telework) can be a practical alternative to the daily commuting grind. Today, about 16 million Americans work at least some of the time at home or in a telework center. Telework can result in improved morale, increased productivity, and greater flexibility for managing family affairs, in addition to reducing fuel costs, parking fees, congestion, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
     Tip: Interested in starting a telework program at your company? It’s important to get support from top managers by showing them how telecommuting would benefit the company. See technical assistance for implementing telework at
     Sources: Washington State University Cooperative Extension Energy Program
     International Telework Association and Council

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point. Compressed work weeks are another alternative to standard work weeks that can help improve productivity and reduce traffic congestion.
B. Add one point.
C. Add one point. Employees, establish a routine so that you’re organized and complete your projects on time when working from home. Employers, trust your telecommuter, manage by measuring results, and give your employee regular feedback.
D. Add one point. Feelings of social isolation is one reason why telecommuting is not for everyone. An employee needs the right work content, work habits and work environment to make telecommuting succeed.


Once Is Not Enough

11. Does Your Office Use Remanufactured Toner Cartridges?

In most cases.
Infrequently, when someone reminds the purchasing department.
Nah. There are plenty of places out in the desert we could put new landfills.

Answer Key

     Buying remanufactured toner cartridges is a significant opportunity for businesses and agencies to save money on office supply purchases. For example, King County saved $300,000 last year by buying remanufactured units. Remanufacturing toner cartridges keeps plastic and metal out of waste streams, and gets more work out of the energy that went into manufacturing the cartridges in the first place.
     Tip: When shopping for remanufactured toner cartridges, look for vendors that thoroughly inspect and clean cartridges, replace worn parts, and guarantee that their product that will meet or exceed original equipment performance standards.
     Source: King County Environmental Purchasing Program

Which answer did you select?

A. Add one point.
B. Add half a point.
C. No points.
D. Subtract one point. Since 1960, U.S. generation of solid waste has nearly doubled, even after taking into account recycling. Per-capita, Americans throw out more materials than any of the six other G-7 industrialized economies. Remanufacturing and reuse helps keep useful materials out of landfills.


12. Does Your Workplace Throw Away Old Office Furniture?

Always. Who would want furniture that’s 20 years old? Eeeuw, those tacky ‘70s colors!
We put it in storage.
We donate it to non-profit organizations.
We have it refurbished and re-use it.

Answer Key

     U.S. businesses spend about $100 million every year discarding 3 million tons of furniture. A lot of furniture is discarded because of appearances—the fabric has faded, the finish looks old, or the color has gone out of style—not because it’s structurally unsound. Furniture can be refurbished or remanufactured to clean it up, update its appearance, and replace worn parts. Recycled furniture can be acquired at a third to half the cost of buying new, especially if the customer supplies the furniture to be refurbished or remanufactured. Reuse of furniture conserves the energy, wood, metals, plastics, textiles, and other resources used to manufacture the products in the first place.
     Tips: Shopping for recycled furniture is like shopping for any product. Find vendors that will stand behind their product. Check with other customers to see whether they were satisfied with the product and service. Get prices, warranties, specifications and delivery schedules in writing.
     Source: Recycled Office Furniture
     (original link no longer active: Some information about the viability and economic incentives of reusing office furniture available at

Which answer did you select?

A. Subtract one point. Old furniture can be refurbished. Someone may even want it as-is. Remember, there’s no accounting for taste. To find dealers, visit the Recycled Furniture Directory at
B. Add half a point. That’s better than the dump, but why pay for storage when old furniture can be put back to work for you or someone else?
C. Add one point. There are plenty of social service organizations, theater troupes, and advocacy groups that can use your old furniture, either for themselves or for resale to support their missions. Check the Yellow Pages under community or social service organizations, theaters, or environmental/conservation organizations.
D. Add one point. You’re helping to close the loop and making better use of company assets.


A Clean Break

13. How Does Your Workplace Choose Cleaning Products?

We have three criteria: price, price and price.
We buy products in containers that have pictures of trees and birds.
It has to pass the smell test – the worse it smells, the better it will work.
We avoid products that create health hazards, and pollute air and water.

Answer Key

     There are cleaning products and there are cleaning products. Products with different formulations may cause different health effects, such as respiratory irritation, allergic reactions, and skin or eye burns. Others may off-gas volatile compounds that are ingredients in urban smog. Still others may contain ingredients that are harmful to aquatic life. It sounds complicated, but with a little thought and planning, your company or agency can identify economical cleaning products that will get the job done with reduced risk to health and the environment.
     Tips: So, how do you go about it? First, think about your cleaning needs. Maybe there are some cleaning chores that can be carried out with one all-purpose cleaner instead of a multitude of specialty cleaners. Next, identify product characteristics you want to consider in envaluating cleaning products. For example, you may want to avoid cleaners with very high or very low pH ratings, because of the heightened danger of skin or eye burns. One accident with a hazardous cleaning product can cost a company hundreds of dollars in medical treatment and lost time.
     Sources: Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance
     EPA Cleaning Products Pilot Project
      Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project

Which answer did you select?

A. No points. Don’t forget the hidden costs of using hazardous cleaners, such as occupational hazards and indoor air pollution.
B. No points. Don’t get "greenscammed." Know what you’re buying.
C. Subtract one point. You can have a clean workplace that doesn’t smell like a chemical factory.
D. Add one point. Keep it up and you’ll clean up on this quiz.


If You Can't Stand The Heat...

14. Which of the Following Is Found in Your Office Kitchen?

Paper plates, polystyrene cups, and lye-based oven cleaners.
Faucet aerators and an Energy Star dishwasher.
Ceramic plates and reusable coffee mugs.
Employees staring at dirty dishes in the sink and rationalizing why it’s someone else’s turn to wash them.

Answer Key

     The office kitchen is a hot place to showcase office efficiency and waste reduction. Reusable plates, cups, mugs and utensils keep paper and plastic out of landfills and get more work out of energy and materials used to make the products. Plus, you avoid the continuing costs of replacing disposable food service products. Aerators are simple, cheap devices that conserve hot water without any loss of faucet utility. Energy-efficient dishwashers help keep electric and water bills under control.
     Tip: Copy this quiz (double-sided on chlorine-free paper with high post-consumer content), put copies into reusable coffee mugs, and hand them out to your employees. Have a fun contest to build awareness. Give high scorers on this quiz a T-shirt made of organic cotton. Give low scorers the opportunity to clean the kitchen with non-toxic cleaning products.
     Source: Co-op America, Greening Your Purchasing

Which answer did you select?

A. Subtract one point. For oven cleaning, place a metal drip tray beneath the racks and clean regularly with dishwashing soap and water. That’s easier and safer than attacking baked-on crud with harsh chemicals.
B. Add one point. If your office kitchen needs a dishwasher, check out Energy Star models at
C. Add one point.
D. No points.



10-14 points — You’re a Lean Green P2 Machine!
6-9 points — It’s a start, but you may be missing some green marketing potential.
0-5 points — Your office has been red-tagged.


Try the P2 at home quiz!


© 1999, Pacific Northwest Pollution Prevention Resource Center
phone: 206-352-2050, e-mail:, web: