One way to help make a positive impact on our planet is to think about the ways you and your colleagues can reduce the waste you generate at work. But waste management can be expensive! From printing to drinking habits, here are some of our suggestions for maintaining a cost-effective, waste-conscious work life.
Paper and Printing:
This may seem obvious, but one key area where most businesses could improve is paper waste. With today’s technology, it is easier than ever to maintain a paperless workplace, and doing so could save time and money and reduce waste.
Utilizing services like Google Docs and Dropbox allows co-workers to collaborate, review and send files from person to person without ever using a printer. Even when printing is necessary, printing double-sided, black and white and in draft mode are all ways to reduce the amount of paper and ink you are using. Create a culture at your workplace where printing isn’t the default — it’s a decision made after thinking about whether a printed copy of a document is truly necessary.
When it comes to recycling paper, remember that convenience is key — so make sure the recycling bin is easy to find. If every desk in your office has a small recycling bin, the amount of recyclable paper ending up in the trash will decrease.
Many of the products we buy for work come with a lot of packaging. It is possible, however, for you to make the conscious effort to search for products and alternatives with little to no packaging. One example might be buying things like pens in bulk rather than in smaller, individual packages. You can also search for companies that deliver in your area via returnable containers, cutting back on the overall waste and impact of your operations.
Be sure to recycle electronic equipment and batteries that might otherwise end up in the trash. The Balance recommends that small businesses looking to cut back on waste “… don’t allow obsolete equipment to take up space and collect dust. The sooner it is recycled, the quicker that valuable resources will be available for reuse, thus avoiding the processing of more virgin materials.”
You can also change habits to make office supplies last longer. Remind employees to clean the tips of their pens and keep them in a cool, dry place when not in use to expand their life cycle. Losing track of pen and marker caps creates waste and is an unnecessary expense. As well, using supplies that are more environmentally conscious — like paper clips instead of staples — can save money in the long run. Even investing in refillable fountain pens rather than one-use ballpoint pens has a positive environmental and financial impact.
Other important items that are easy to reuse are binders and file folders. By providing your employees with labeling stickers rather than endless folders, you’ll be able to write over old labels and reuse these organization tools again and again.
As much as it is important to change the office culture surrounding waste, you must also lead by example. Packing a lunch, bringing a reusable mug and water bottle and avoiding paper plates and plastic utensils at lunch are all good habits that will eliminate waste. Make a company policy banning plastic water bottles and provide company-branded reusable water bottles to your employees as replacements. These initiatives will save your business money in the long run and leave a positive imprint on the environment in the process.
There are so many ways to reduce your waste spending and your environmental impact at work. It really is a win-win situation, if you are willing to put the thought and time into changing your habits and your office culture.