During the hustle and bustle of a workday, we rarely have time to think about the waste we and our coworkers produce.
Credit: Business First Family
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 90% of all office waste comes from paper. Add to that all the waste from plastic, metal, and food items, and you get a frightening picture of how much office waste piles up. Let’s take a look at some ways to dramatically reduce the waste your office produces.
1. Remember to Recycle
The past few decades have seen a real positive improvement in recycling practices. Now, just about every school, office, and residence practices recycling in small or big ways. While this practice has become normalized, we can always improve the quality and frequency of our recycling habits.
Starting recycling programs can encourage staff members to think twice before wasting something. Designating separate bins for plastic, paper, glass, and even compost can significantly reduce the amount of waste your office produces. These programs also make the lives of your recycling and waste management providers much easier.
2. Does it Need Printing?
Because paper contributes to most office waste, always ask yourself whether or not something needs to exist on paper. With tools like Google Docs, cloud sharing, and simple email, most information can stay in digital form. You might want physical copies of contracts, bills, receipts, and sensitive information, but most things don’t need printing. By refraining from pressing “control P,” you’ll help drastically decrease your office’s waste output.
3. Use What You Have Fully
When items are spent, they’re either tossed in the garbage or recycled, if applicable. But the truth is, we often get rid of things before they’re fully used. The main suspect here is paper. While paper can be recycled, we often toss blank or partially used pages in the trash bin before considering further use. When pages get printed with low ink or incorrect formatting, stop for a moment and consider what else you could do with that sheet before sending it off with the waste management company.
If you need to take notes, use that paper. Maybe the other side of the sheet is still blank. In that case, use it for further printing. You can even use paper for protecting fragile packages There are always applications for paper before sending it to its temporary resting place. The same goes for cardboard boxes and larger plastic/glass containers.
4. Remotely Possible?
While offices have been a staple of the modern workplace for nearly a century, they’re not all that necessary anymore. The truth is, most office operations can be carried out remotely now. With a good internet connection, a laptop (and/or smart device), and instant video/text communication, we take our offices with us.
Depending on how your business operates, evaluate the possibility of allowing staff members to work from home. So long as the work gets done, employees can save time, money, and energy by not commuting every day. Additionally, remote work means less of a need for office space, and therefore less office waste.
5. Avoid Wasteful Food Items
If an office has a breakroom and/or lunchroom, you might expect to find coffee, snacks, plates, cups, plasticware, etc. If so, you can cut down on waste in a few simple ways. Rather than investing in a single K-cup coffee maker, use a full pot coffee maker with a reusable filter. Also, try ditching the plastic forks, spoons, and knives. Encourage employees to bring their own utensils and containers, or provide them and set aside some time to clean these items regularly. As for snacks, consider buying in bulk to use fewer containers. These large containers can be reused for other purposes as well.
This article first appeared in The Budd Group.