5 Tips for Staying Waste-Free at Work

We talked about tips on how to make your office a little greener, now here are a few guidelines how to make yourself waste-free at work from Earth911

It’s tough to keep environmental impact at a minimum while you’re away from home. And when you’re in a highly-regimented environment like the office, reducing waste and shrinking your footprint can seem next to impossible. But don’t fret, eco-minded employee. You can easily cut office impact by making a few quick adjustments to your daily routine. Check out these 5 simple tips for staying waste-free at work, and cut the footprint of your workday in half.

Pack your own lunch

Bringing your own lunch and snacks to the office in reusable containers not only reduces packaging waste, but can also put thousands of dollars back into your pocket annually.

A survey of 1,000 workers conducted by finance recruiting firm Accounting Principals revealed that the average American worker spends $37 per week on bought lunch, adding up to $2,000 a year (there’s that pay increase you’ve been looking for).

The same survey found that 50 percent of the American workforce spends $1,000 per year on coffee. So, bring your morning cup to work in a reusable mug, and utilize office coffee machines to save on cash and reduce hard-to-recycle coffee cup waste.

To get you started on your low-waste, low-budget revolution, check out these sustainable lunchand snack recipes that are perfect for the office, and banish those vending machine trips for good.


Make supplies last longer

Reaching for a dried-out pen during a stressful workday can make you want to pull your hair out. But it can also lead to prematurely tossing your supplies. Are there really ways to make office supplies last longer? Absolutely.

The ink in your pens, highlighters and markers tends to dry up faster if they aren’t being used regularly. So, try using your writing implements one-at-a-time to ensure they won’t end up forgotten in the back of your desk.

And try to keep your pen tips clean. Inks naturally coagulate at the tip of your pen, making them trickier to write with over time. To avoid plastic waste (and frustration), wipe the tip of your pen with a cloth after each use, and store pens with tips pointing upward to prevent clogging.

Also, keep all pens, markers and glue sticks in a cool, dry place – like inside a desk drawer or closet. Heat and exposure to direct sunlight can cause inks and glues to dry up and harden.


“Precycle” your office supplies

“Precycling” refers to the simple act of reducing non-recyclable waste before it starts. The term typically applies to choosing products packaged in materials that are easily recyclable, but it can also apply to your office supplies.

Opt for supplies that are easy to reuse or recycle to stop waste in its tracks. When faced with a decision as to which supplies to use, try asking yourself: Can I recycle or reuse this? A simple change in mindset could mean lighter waste bins all year long.

Not sure where to start? Try using paper clips instead of staples for easy reuse, and opt for crumpled newspaper instead of bubble wrap to protect items during shipping. At your desk, invest in a reusable tape dispenser to halt plastic dispenser waste, and reuse items like folders and media boxes for as long as possible before throwing them out.


Be ready with reusables

From impromptu lunch outings and office birthday parties to lunch-break errands and shopping trips, there are loads of opportunities to get stuck with single-use products during your workday.

Reduce the disposable plates, cups, silverware and shopping bags you contribute to our waste stream by being prepared with reusable alternatives ahead of time.

Keep a disposable-free survival kit, including reusable coffee mugs, water bottles, dishware and shopping bags, at your desk to help you reduce waste before it starts.


Help give coworkers the green bug

Sharing eco-minded ideas with coworkers is a great way to make sure your whole office gets in on the waste-reducing action.

Try giving out reusable water bottles, coffee mugs and shopping bags at the office on holidays to encourage fellow employees to reduce waste. Or send out a mass email about useful file-sharing tools provided by your workplace to remind coworkers of alternatives to printing.

When discussing your values with coworkers, remember to frame the conversation as providing information, not dissing their habits. For example, if you notice a coworker tossing a plastic bottle in the trash, politely telling him about a recycling bin in the next room will yeild far better results than berating him about his disposal habits. With the right approach, you can get everyone in your office excited about going green.