The Ultimate Checklist to a Zero Waste Office
Even if we don’t want to, we are always creating waste. We can be more conscious about it at home, but what about when we are at the office? Any average person will spend about 90,000 hours of his life working. Quite some time, huh?
It’s important to consider our office as one of the main places of our life, adapting it to our needs. Now, with a bit of planning, you can transform the waste generated at work.
Rest assured, because today we bring you a complete checklist that will help you accomplish this goal.
Let’s go for it!
A key to reduce emissions is to address the way you get to work.
Try taking public transportation when possible, or even better, consider walking or biking if you live close enough. It’s a great way to start your day with a bit of exercise to stay sharp when you arrive at the office.
Another option if you can’t go with any of the previous ones can be carpooling. Maybe you have a partner that lives close to you and can pick you up for a ride. This way you’ll reduce emissions and can also share expenses. Win-Win!
Try to avoid buying breakfast on the go, as it will probably be covered in single-use plastic.
What you can do instead is plan ahead, and prepare your breakfast at home. You can wrap your sandwich in a bee wax wrap, a reusable wrap or bring a jar with some nuts and some fruit.
If you have some time, it’s even better if you eat breakfast at home, as you’ll avoid having to pack it with you.
Are you one of those who order coffee-to-go? If so, you’ll probably have to rethink your strategy.
The disposable cups where coffee is served are usually made of cardboard, but these also contain a thin layer of plastic to make them waterproof.
Instead, you can ask coffee shops to pour your coffee on a reusable mug. And here is why:
First of all, this way, you will be contributing to save the over 16 billion cardboard cups used for coffee every single year, which leads to 6.5 million trees cut down, 4 billion gallons of water going to waste, and enough energy to power 54,000 homes for a year. Some big numbers, right?!
Secondly, more and more coffee shops are offering small discounts when you bring your own reusable cup. So there you go, you can protect our environment while saving money too!
If tea is what you are into, you can also use your reusable mug to serve it there. Try to avoid tea bags, as they contain a small portion of plastic (so the bag doesn’t dissolve in hot water). This means you’re literally swallowing plastic using tea bags! Instead, use a metallic filter to prepare your infusion.
Something similar happens with the coffee. Regular coffee pods contain plastic and other materials that make them hard to recycle. So avoid them at all costs! You can use a filter machine, a machine that grinds coffee beans and even any of the new compostable coffee pods as an alternative.
Is your office filled with plastic bottles? If so, please stop using them!
We know the importance of staying hydrated throughout the day, but not at the cost of our planet’s health.
A good replacement is bringing your reusable water bottle. It can either be from stainless steel or crystal. Make sure you don’t forget them at home!
You can refill your bottle with tap water. If taste is what drives you away, try installing a filter, which will remove some elements that contribute to poor taste.
Bonus tip: have some pitchers and crystal glasses to use when you have a meeting, instead of having plastic bottles for every guest.
Preparing your lunch at home is the easiest way to avoid waste. There are a lot of people who get their lunch to-go from nearby stores and come back to eat them at work. This generates a tremendous amount of waste day over day.
Instead, if you can’t plan ahead or you forgot your meal at home (we’ve all had some of those days), try to always keep a reusable lunch box at the office. You can ask for your lunch to-go into your own container and avoid single-use plastic containers.
Make sure to use a crystal or stainless vessel, since these are 100% recyclable and easier to clean than the plastic ones. Also, plastic containers release microplastics when exposed to high temperatures (like in the microwave or in the oven) so it’s always better to go for the alternatives!
Last, but not least, don’t forget about the cutlery! Make sure you have some at the office. You don’t want to be using disposable cutlery, do you?
Bonus tip: include a reusable cloth napkin in your bag. That way you’ll save a lot of paper waste. If possible, try to have one that is 100% cotton or linen, they are soft and easy to clean.
There is no excuse for not recycling, even at work.
Most people have a trashcan close to their desk. But that’s the easy way. Don’t be lazy.
Stand up and walk a bit to the recycle bins. A little exercise doesn’t do any harm (especially since most of us are sitting for long hours).
If you don’t have recycling options at your office, try to collect your waste and throw it away on your way home. Same happens with the compost. You can gather it into a crystal jar and put it into the freezer (so it doesn’t smell). Once it’s full, take it to the compost pile. You could also take it one step further and talk to your boss and your peers to implement it. They will probably value your leadership and commitment to society :)
Who doesn’t like plants?
Having plants at the office doesn’t help to diminish waste. True. But they can improve air quality and make us feel closer to nature.
Numerous studies have proven the benefits of having more greenery in your workspace. They help reduce stress, increase productivity and more!
As humans, we have an innate desire to connect with nature, so having some plants around you won’t do any harm. They are taking care of you so remember to take care of them :)
Now that you have a checklist for reducing waste at your workplace, it’s time to implement it in your life.
Start with whatever it’s easy for you, and keep improving from there. Don’t try to change all habits at once, as it can be complicated.
Talk with your partners at your office, I am sure you can build a green team and support each other. You can share your tips and maybe you’ll discover something new.
What are you already doing at your work? Do you have other suggestions for a greener office?