Last Updated on September 10, 2020
Do you guys go to work? I spend roughly a 1/3 of my week in an office type setting. Then I spend about 1/4 of my time at the theatre, but I’m assuming most of you relate more to an office setting. I work at a print shop. There’s lots of machinery, an office up front with a couple of desks, a bathroom, and a small kitchen area.
Most of my time is spent out of the house. And, this is how I control my waste in the workplace.
I know that printing is not a completely eco business, but people need things printed. We always push 100% recyclaeble materials and use recyclable ink. We also push products that can be used over and over again.
Not an entirely zero waste tip, but it’s something I find really important. Get a plant friend. I love my plant friends at work. They freshen the air and brighten the room so much! On that same note, try to take a walk during the day. Take a break from the screen and soak up some vitamin D.
pack your lunch:
Almost everyone I work with eats takeout for lunch. It involves so much packaging! There’s so much styrofoam, and on top of the waste – it’s expensive and unhealthy. I’m much more content eating homemade goodies.
I wrap sandwiches in cloth napkins, take mason jar salads, and occasionally pack treats in a tiffin. I probably eat lunch out 2-3 times a month. When I go out, I bring my own plates.
Learn how to pack a zero waste lunch with 10 lunch ideas.
the water fountain:
Some offices keep the fridge stocked with soda and water bottles. Forgo added sugar and head to the water fountain. I like to keep a 32 oz mason jar on my desk. I drink about 96oz of water or tea a day. If I used a regular sized glass, I would have to get up 8 times a day. I’m either too busy at my desk, or I’m too lazy. Invest in a larger cup, so you’re still drinking lots of water.
Do you have someone who lives close to you? Can you carpool or ride your bike or walk? I carpool every morning. Some larger companies even have ride share programs. Maybe you could even set one up!
double sided prints:
You knew this one was coming. If you have to print out lots of paper, and I’m sure you do. Try to make as much as you can double sided.
This. THIS. In our little kitchen area, I have a couple of plates, bowls, and some silverware. I bought the plates to live at work. I picked it all up at the thrift store for next to nothing. If we have cake, I’m covered. Neighbors having a BBQ, we’re there with plates in hand. Food truck is down the road, BYOP. This avoids so much waste! When I see people tossing their paper plates, it makes me sad. It only takes 30 seconds to was a plate. Wash your dishes!
coffee & tea:
Please, please don’t tell me you have a keurig. I’m so thankful my boss is really conscious about the environment. Our coffee machine will brew a single cup of coffee without a filter or pod. Plus we keep a stock of real mugs. We also have a nice selection of loose leaf tea that I buy in bulk, and a couple of strainers.
I have a hand towel hanging in the bathroom at work, and I have a couple of hand towels in the kitchen. We use them all over the shop for cleaning. So, I folded a couple and put them in other areas. This way I don’t have to use paper towels to dry my hands or dishes. Sometimes I dry my hands on my pants – it’s all in the name of zero waste, right!?
recycle and compost:
Try to get your workplace involved in recycling and composting! If your city offers either; it’s typically inexpensive. We have designated recycle bins all around the workplace, but the city we work in doesn’t have compost.
I save what’s compostable in a small tupperware tub in the freezer. It holds about a months worth of compost. (mostly tea leaves) If it’s something large my backyard compost bin can’t handle, I put it in the freezer and bring it down to Berkeley or Oakland when I’m visiting friends. They have municipal compost.
Convert your desk trash can into a recycle bin. The only thing that arrives at my desk is paper. Lots of paper. I turned my trash can into a recycle bin.
The boys that empty my can know it’s recycling ONLY. They know not to line my bin. If you have something at your desk that isn’t recyclable, I’m sure there’s a trash can nearby – maybe in the hall? If you have to keep getting up to throw something away, it will encourage you to break the habit.
Do you have any tips for reducing the waste in your workplace? If your could change anything about your workplace, what would you change? I’d definitely get compost!