9 Steps Towards a Zero Waste Office
The zero waste movement has made a significant appearance in pop culture lately with Canada planning to ban single-use plastic as early as 2021. We’ve seen a lot of coffee and fast-food franchises adopting paper straws or cup lids redesigned for no straws at all. Although everyone seems to be fighting a rebellion on single-use plastic straws, they aren’t the only culprit in filling our seas with giant plastic islands. Thankfully, the trend of buying reusable straws means that people are starting to be more receptive to the idea of making behavioural changes for the betterment of the environment. Companies should strive to stay up to date with popular cultural and social movements such as this. Making efforts to create a zero waste office is a great place to start. Here are some easy swaps to adopt to make your office as zero waste as possible:
1. Ditching single-use plastic.
Plastic disposable straws, cutlery and cups are out! If you haven’t already, invest in some nice reusable alternatives such as biodegradable bamboo cutlery and stainless steel straws to keep in the office kitchen area.
2. Say no to Coffee pods.
Some office kitchens include a coffee maker like a Keurig or a Nespresso. Unfortunately the coffee capsules they use are non-biodegradable and very polluting. Just imagine how many empty pods are being disposed of – if every employee uses one or two per day. Instead, why not keep it simple with a drip coffee machine and biodegradable filters or, for the fancier folk, try a French press.
3. Go Paperless.
In this day and age, we are all already working mostly on our computers so this one isn’t very difficult to implement. By just being mindful of your paper consumption and printing out documents only when absolutely necessary, you’ll be surprised at how few papers you end up needing. If you are someone who needs to jot things down like your to-do lists, instead of a notebook and Post-its keep a small white board and a marker by your desk.
4. Scannable business cards.
Paper business cards are wasteful and expensive for nothing. You can now have business cards with a QR code that instantly import all your contact information onto the phone scanning it. Instead of printing out a few hundred cards, all you need is a couple of them stuck onto your laptop, your phone and wallet. Using these QR code business cards will cut down on your company’s paper footprint.
5. Buy second hand office supplies.
You’d be surprised at how many second-hand office supplies are available, from paper to pens to binders. Although you will, in theory, have to dispose of these items eventually, it’s still better to use something that’s already been created than to generate yet more consumption.
6. Fountain pens.
Now since your office doesn’t use paper very often you only really need to keep one pen. Fountain pens are reusable and a great alternative to regular ballpoint or gel pens that you end up throwing away after the ink is all used up. On top of that, the pens look pretty cool and the refillable ink is customizable.
7. Share equipment.
Whenever possible, office supplies should be shared among everyone in order to reduce consumption of overall non-recyclable products. There’s no need to have multiple scanners and printers.
8. Zero waste box.
For any office supplies that are not recyclable or biodegradable and that need to be disposed of, there are services like Zero Waste Box. Here’s how it works: they send you a box to put in all your items like desk organizers and broken staplers. You ship it back to them and they do a complete processing and recycling of your waste. A consultant is also available for all your questions and concerns about the process of recycling your waste.
9. Group Challenges
Get your co-workers and employees involved by having group challenges with sustainability as a goal. The GoSpaces app offers a multitude of individual and group challenges to help your office be environmentally friendly. Here are a few examples: having a meatless day, teleworking, avoiding excess packaging and bringing a lunch for a week instead of buying takeout/fast food.