I practically spend more time at work than I do at home these days and it can be a place that has a huge amount of waste. Office supplies, coffees and lunches, and a general lack of planning or caring means that lots is being wasted and a ton of stuff is being sent to landfills.
I am fortunate to work for a company that does care about the environment so a few of these ideas are easier for me as we have very clear marked bins for compost, paper, containers, and trash and have a lot of reusable options available to us.
While I am definitely not perfect and some items do go into my trash can, here are some of the ways that I am trying to reduce my waste at work:
- Go paperless as much as possible: So much of our work is done online these days and so much of that paper doesn’t need to be printed, so make sure that you think about whether or not you need it physically before you print out that email, list, or communication that was sent over for you.
- Use all of a piece of paper: Make sure you are printing double sided if you can, maybe even putting multiple pages onto one piece of paper if you can read that small. If you are given paper that is only used on one side start a “scrap paper” bin on your desk for when you need to scribble notes or jot something down.
- Reuse supplies: I am currently working on a project that means I have to use multi-coloured post-it notes to mark different stages in the process. I don’t just use them once however, I switch them out and use them over and over until they can’t stick anymore. Then I use them to write a note on, and then I recycle them. Though it is a supply that I am using I make sure that I get the longest life out of it that I can.
- Make your own coffee/tea: You don’t have to go out every day to get your drinks in disposable cups if you have a way to make it work. I am fortunate enough to have a kitchen with a kettle, coffee maker, and even an espresso machine so one cupboard in my office is dedicated to tea with my steeper, mug, and loose leaf tea at the ready. Not only is it cheaper, but the only waste I am making goes straight into the compost bin.
- Bring your own lunch: My work is attached to a mall and the amount of people who eat out every day is staggering. My work cafeteria fortunately serve food on real dishes, or if you are doing take out, everything is completely compostable, but that is also not needed. Most of the time my lunch is leftovers from the day before and by packing my own lunch in reusable containers I am saving money and can have a full lunch without using any of the garbage or recycling receptacles at all.
- Use supplies until they are done: School supply shopping used to be my favourite thing to do every August, but I was definitely guilty of getting new supplies when I didn’t need them. I am trying to be better at this, bringing partly used highlighters to work instead of starting new ones, making sure not to lose my pens until they run out of ink, and switching to things such as push pins and paper clips that can be used over and over instead of staples that are one use only.
Now working in a big corporation means that there is a lot that I can’t change, but there is still quite a few things that I can.
How do you reduce your waste in the workplace?
Check out my husbands blog for how to reduce waste while working as a Chef: https://growinginsideshrinkingoutside.com/2018/08/11/zero-waste-in-the-food-service-industry/