When was the last time you sat down and really thought about the amount of waste your business creates? Think of every office supply, retail plastic, or e-waste item you’ve had to get rid of. It’s a lot. According to the EPA “The total generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) in 2017 was 267.8 million tons (U.S. short tons, unless specified) or 4.51 pounds per person per day.” Our oceans are being choked from plastic and our landfills are growing. It’s clear that something has to change. Fortunately, as a business owner, you have an opportunity to find ways to reduce or even stop the amount of waste you create and help your employees to be more conscious as well. Here are three ways you and your employees can reduce your waste at work.
There’s nothing like using a pen only to have it dry out within a few days. Multiply that times the number of workers in your company and you have a lot of writing utensil waste. Crayola, Terracycle, and Staples have different recycling programs. You can even send them to an artist who will reuse in one of his art pieces! Just make sure you do the research first. Some places require a certain amount of weight before you send them your pens.
Let’s face it, caffeine gets us through the morning and successfully into the day, but 50 million disposable coffee cups end up in the landfill each year. You might not be in the coffee business, but you are creating waste when you go to Starbucks every day. Because of their plastic liners, their paper coffee cups are not recyclable and most of the lids are not accepted by your municipal recycling bin. There are a few ways to combat this as a business.
- If you do provide coffee at your place of work, provide coffee mugs that can be washed. There should be no need to purchase styrofoam or paper one-time use cups.
- Encourage your employees to bring their own traveling mugs. You could always hold a contest for the person who brings their reusable mug the most every month.
- Encourage employees to take their break at the coffee shop and use the coffee house’s washable mug instead.
Don’t you hate it when you order a keychain and it comes in a giant box with 3 rolls of bubble wrap unnecessarily? Sure you could reuse it, but as with most waste, do you really have enough space to store it? If you’re an Amazon shopper, there is an option to reduce your packaging by combining shipments and requesting eco-friendly packing material. The ultimate goal would be to try and accomplish this with every company you purchase from. While Amazon is very convenient, they aren’t eco-friendly. If you have the time and the means, seek out companies to purchase goods from, who do care about their carbon footprint, as well as what they are using to protect the goods in their shipments.
The great thing about being a business owner is the ability to provide an environment where not only you can help the planet but also where your employees can learn to do the same and help you! There are more ways in which we can reduce waste at our place of work, but these should help you get started and may spark amazing ideas to keep the ball rolling.