How to help your workplace go green: part 1

Whether you’re doing it for the environment, to save money, or to attract talent, being a sustainable workplace is never a bad idea! In this two-part series, we will guide you on how to bring a zero waste mindset into your office.

In this first part, we will focus on how to encourage employees and reducing paper waste!

How much you can do depends on your position within and size of your company, but regardless of size, this list provides plenty of ideas and arguments you can pitch at your next work environment or budget meeting as well as things you can do yourself!

  1. Involve your co-workers
    If you want to succeed in making any changes within your company, it is important that you involve your co-workers from the start! After all, it is not only yours, but their office habits that needs changing.
    Have a suggestion box for suggestions on how to improve office recycling. Encourage co-workers to report if they see excessive amounts of waste in the production and learn what they want or need in order for your sustainability strategy to be successful. When you’ve developed a strategy, ask your co-workers for inputs.
    Find ways to motivate your co-workers! Make a contest between employees or departments on who is best at recycling or reducing waste and reward them for it!
    Remember to continuously communicate why you’re implementing these changes so your employees or co-workers understand and get on board with the mission. Try hosting a recycling awareness day at your office as part of your next team building experience or create monthly green challenges!
    … 
  2. Banish unnecessary paper
    The first step towards a zero waste office is quite simple: Reduce the amount of paper waste. According to Kefron, an average office of 25 people uses 261.000 pieces of paper a year – a third of which is considered waste. As they put it, this equals 21 trees A YEAR for just 25 people… Yet, all of this could easily fit into a 16gb USB drive. Reducing your paper waste can save your office £1740 per 25 employees each year!
    Start out by urging everyone to unsubscribe from mail outs and junk mail, e-mail your memos and internal mailings and urge everyone to look at it online rather than on print.
    If you must print set your printers to print double sided and use black and white colour as the printer default, use recycled paper, and consider a shared printer. It will force people to think about how much they print AND will give your co-workers an opportunity to rest their eyes and exercise when they have to print.
    Finally, setup a printer friendly email signature for all staff, e.g. “Please consider the environment before printing this email”, to remind everyone of their environmental impact.
  3. Use waste paper instead of bubble wrap
    Because bubble wrap is made of non-rigid plastics, which is not recyclable curbside, bubble wrap takes up space in landfills and can be difficult to store in the office. If you still seem to be unable to avoid waste paper, use the shredded leftovers when you ship products instead of bubble wrap. And if bubble wrap is unavoidable you can recycle it with a Zero Waste Box.
  4. Sort out your office bins – and make recycling easy!
    Providing inviting and well-placed recycling containers for all the different types of material will encourage recycling rather than simply tossing something into the nearest bin. Check what your local municipality recycles and make special bins for these waste streams.
    For all the other waste streams, our zero waste box selection can help. We recycle almost all waste streams, e.g. all your office supplies, crisp bags, shipping supplies, and even any general breakroom waste.
    See if you can support any local schools by donating your used writing instruments. The more writing instruments the school collects, the more money we donate! Find your nearest school on our map. Remember to set up a designated bin so the school gets the right materials.
  5. Give your employees a zero waste gift
    If you can’t provide a suitable coffee machine or your employees continue to buy their coffee on the go, why not give them a reusable coffee cup with your logo as the company gift? Ask your local barista to fill up the reusable cup rather than the regular, single-use paper one. You’ll help protect the environment AND get free advertising, when your employees flash their sustainable mugs out and about.
    You can even go all out and make a zero waste to-go kit, with a coffee mug, a reusable water bottle, utensils, and a cloth napkin. All packed in a reusable canvas bag of course.
    Another option around Christmas is to give your Secret Santa an Eco-challenge twist, and see who gives the best, most sustainable gift!

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