Refuse and Recycling Blog

10 Tips for Helping Your Office Stay Waste Free

Posted on Mon, Nov 26, 2012 @ 10:00 AM

Office Waste

When you’re not home, it can be difficult to practice green initiatives, especially in the workplace. In a work environment, getting everyone to recycle and reduce his or her waste can sometimes seem impossible. Actually, by not implementing simple environmentally friendly practices, your office could actually be losing money. Not sure where you can start, here are some quick tips your office could implement to help stay waste free. 

Bring Your Own Lunch 

How many people do you know that bring lunch to work? Probably not a lot, about 66% of the workforce opts to buy their midday meal rather than packing one. Not only will bringing your own lunch increase the amount of money you have in your pocket, but using reusable containers can help decrease the amount of waste that is created every year from paper containers and packaging.

Coffee is considered the fuel that keeps Americans workforce going. An eco-friendly and cost effective tip is to bring your own coffee from home in a reusable mug. The average American is shelling out more than $20 a week on coffee, for a yearly average of $1,092.

How to Build a Zero Waste Lunch:

  • Use a reusable insulated bag or lunch box instead of a brown paper bag.
  • Use reusable containers that can be washed and used over and over instead of using disposable plastic sandwich bags for sandwiches and snacks.
  • Use a thermos or reusable jug instead of a bottle of soda or a juice box.
  • Use metal silverware or wash plastic utensils and reuse them instead of plastic utensils that are used once and thrown away.
  • Use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused instead of using paper napkins or paper towels.

Make Your Office Supplies Last Longer

How often have you reached for a pen to write down a note and your pen was dead? It probably happens more often than you think. When you do not regularly use pens, highlighters and markers they tend to dry up faster, causing you to purchase more supplies sooner. To make your supplies last longer a great tip is to place them in a container tip up. In addition, it is better that you only have a few writing implements on your desk.

Did you know that:

  • Placing rubber bands in your refrigerator keeps them from drying out, making them last longer.
  • Keeping all pens, markers and glue sticks in a cool dry place, like a desk drawer help them last longer. Heat and exposure to direct sunlight cause the ink to dry up and harden. 

Use Recyclable Office Supplies

Have you ever heard of the term precycling? It actually refers to the act of reducing non-recyclable waste before it starts. If you have not already heard of this term, generally it refers to choosing products that are packaged in recyclable materials. You might be wondering how it can apply to your office supplies. When purchasing supplies for your office opt for ones that are easy to reuse or recycle. Here are some items that you should utilize and reuse:

  • Reusable batteries
  • Paper clips instead of staples
  • Folders and paper for a long as possible before recycling them

Green Your Office Commute

Have you ever thought about how much your commute to work impacts the environment. The average American spends about 18 days a year in their car, producing around 7,000 pounds of carbon emissions every year. A great way to help decrease the amount of carbon emissions produced each year and cut your costs on gas by carpooling. By driving just 10% less can reduce your carbon emissions by 440 to 1,763 pounds per year. Some other great ways to cut your driving would be to walk, cycle or take public transportation. 

Reduce Your Use of Paper

The average office worker in the United States uses around 10,000 sheets of paper each year. Think about all the trees everyone in your office could save by reducing the amount of paper used and reusing paper. On average one tree 1 tree produces 8,333.3 sheets of paper, less than the number of sheets an average office worker uses.  Not to sure how your office can shrink their footprint, here are some tips to start implementing to reduce your paper waste.

  • Avoid using paper as much as possible by emailing coworkers and clients.
  • Create presentations to display at staff, client or professional meetings rather than printing handouts. Not only will it save paper but your audience will be more focused on you.
  • When you have to print utilize the double sided printing feature.

Always remember to recycle your paper. The EPA estimated that if an office building of 7,000 workers recycled all of its paper for a year, it would amount to taking 400 cars off the road. 

Utilize Reusable Items

Think about all of the single use products used during office lunch breaks and birthday parties. Every year 40 billion plastic utensils and 25 billion Styrofoam cups are thrown away. By reducing the amount of disposable plates, cups and silverware your office uses can decrease the amount of waste brought to local landfills. It is important to use reusable cups because that Styrofoam cup you used for your morning coffee will still be sitting in a landfill 500 years from now. 

Shrink Your Offices Energy Footprint

Today, no office is complete without computers, printers, a fax machine, shredders, and other technology. With all that technology, think about all the energy that technology is generating. An average office building in the United States uses an average of 17-kilowatt hours of electricity, about 20% is generated from your office’s computer equipment. When you think about the energy generated from office equipment, lighting, heating, cooling and other elements it might seem impossible to cut down and avoid. Reduce your office energy consumption by:

  • Optimize the energy setting on your computer. Use these settings to shut off the monitor or put the computer into sleep mode.
  • Shutting your computer down when you leave for the day.
  • Unplug devices that are not in use.
  • Replace older equipment with more energy efficient models
  • Use compact florescent light bulbs

Take Paperless Notes

Everyone takes notes, whether it is something they want to ask a co-worker or a reminder of something they have to do later in the day. Think about all of the notes that you take, you might think that it is a natural way to remember tasks that you need to complete. Why are you writing notes on paper when there are other waste free alternatives? A great way to take notes is by using word processing software that includes an easy highlighting tool to mark important sections of your notes. If you need to remind yourself to do something, a great idea would be to download a task management an online note taking software such as Evernote. 

For those of you that cannot break your habit of writing notes a paper, a great alternative would be to invest in a whiteboard or chalkboard. Not only can you write notes but you can also use the board repeatedly, reducing the amount of paper wasted. 

Decrease Packing Waste

As an office, packing and shipping probably occurs on a daily basis. Have you ever thought about how much office waste is actually created? As a business you cannot just stop shipping products and documents to your other offices and customers. Here are things you can do to reduce the packing and shipping waste your office generates.

  • When shipping pack boxes as densely as possible to avoid cardboard waste.
  • Reuse boxes when shipping items.
  • Compost boxes that cannot be reused.

Teach Co-workers about Going Green

To help your office decrease the amount of waste generated, spread the word about reducing, reusing and recycling. Share your environmentally friendly ideas with co-workers to get everyone excited and interested in participating in waste reducing actions. Try giving out reusable water bottles and coffee mugs to encourage co-workers to reduce waste. Here are some other tips to help your office reduce waste:

  • Buy refillable dry erase markers to help reduce the number of markers disposed of in the United States every year.
  • Not only to staples create waste but so do paper clips. Another alternative to using paper clips is to purchase a staple-free stapler.
  • Every year Americans purchase 106 billion ballpoint pens. A great way to reduce that number and decrease the number ending up in landfills is to purchase refillable ballpoint pens. They provide the same writing experience, except when the ink runs out you simply refill it.
  • Instead of purchasing a box of regular envelopes, consider contacting your local post office to learn about two-way envelopes that allow you to use a single envelope for two shipments. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • When purchasing supplies for your office opt for ones that are easy to reuse or recycle.
  •  An average office building in the United States uses an average of 17-kilowatt hours of electricity, about 20% is generated from your office’s computer equipment.
  • Use reusable cups.That Styrofoam cup you used for your morning coffee will still be in a landfill 500 years from now. 
  • Americans spend about 18 days a year in their car, producing around 7,000 pounds of carbon emissions every year. 
  • Bring your own coffee from home in a reusable mug. 

Need Help?

If your business is interested in going green, contact us today! 

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Tags: commercial recycling, office waste, going green, reduce waste, reuse, recycling