With the world slowly returning back to the office, it's time to not only close the book on the story of the pandemic, but also the current war on plastic the workplace has been wading through. Whether it's the disposable commuting coffee or that office landfill kitchen bin, currently overflowing with single-use plastics. As we head back to work, it's time to strive towards a sustainable future for both the company and the environment.
Office-based waste is currently one of the largest contributors to the global pollution problem, with statistics suggesting that the average office employee generates the waste of 10,000 paper sheets to 500 coffee cups per year.
Plastic pollution as a whole is one of the most important issues faced by humanity. As a silent killer of both the environment and its inhabitants, it's time to make a change. Currently, around 8 million tons of plastic infiltrate our global oceans each year.
If this isn't concerning enough, plastic production is only increasing, with studies predicting that production is set to double by 2050. As we retire from our WFH office and head back into the workplace, it's time to become an eco-conscious employee and start prioritising zero waste alternatives. Here are some easy zero-waste initiatives that will transform your new green office, without the fuss or the cost.
Plastic Alternatives For A Zero Waste Office
Leaders, strap yourself in, employees it's time to take notes to bring to that next team meeting. Here's how to create the ultimate sustainable office space.
No More Plastic Cutlery
Whether it's the plastic fork you got with that shop-bought salad or the commuting coffee cup that you've brought into the workplace, each single-use piece of plastic we bin adds to the silent emergency. According to Ocean Conservancy, plastic cutlery is currently listed as the most dangerous waste form for sea turtles and birds. So, for the ultimate green office environment, it's time to throw away bad habits instead of indisposable plastics and opt for some easy sustainable alternatives.
Encourage your colleagues to bring in their own set of reusable kitchen utensils, alongside their favourite funky mug for a quick workplace coffee break. Watch not only your landfill bin shrink, but your spare change grow. Reducing plastic intake encourages employees to make their lunches at home and swap that commuting coffee for that office kitchen brew, saving both the planet and your pocket.
The DIY Mask
With the corporate sector slowly repoing post-pandemic, Covid-19 anxiety is to be expected and precautions continue to be taken by many office dwellers. As social distancing and mask-wearing within the workplace continue to safeguard the wellbeing of the colleagues, leaders can still put a sustainable twist on the pandemic's plastic after effects.
According to Science Mag, disposable face masks could be the start of a new unsustainable future for a post-pandemic landscape. With their recent study predicting that wearing one disposable facemask a day could result in a monthly waste total of 129 billion masks, it's time to become consciously creative.
Why not break the team back into working together by organising a wellbeing workshop to design and create your own mask. This will not only give colleges that well deserved screen break but give them a chance to learn about new zero-waste office practice. If you're using eyeglasses for work, try using upcycled material. With millions of eyeglasses frames being thrown away, opting for best quality glasses will probably last you longer and prevent needless waste of frames.
Upcycle The Office
It's time to start upcycling if you're looking for an easy fix to the war on waste. In a busy office environment, it's impossible to avoid all plastics, but that doesn't mean you can't put them to good use. As a durable and easily malleable material, one positive of plastic is that it really will last.
Why not clean out plastic-based coffee cups and use them as pen holders, or use recycled packaging from large office shipments for future storage solutions. Even though this plastic will eventually be thrown away, changing these habits helps to reduce plastic consumption, which is a process that is just as damaging as the products it creates.
New statistics from Rubicon Global claim that currently, "70% of total office waste is recyclable, however, only 7.5% reaches the recycling facility".
To combat this, it's time to start encouraging recycling within the workplace. Start by introducing smaller bins that separate recyclables, compostables and general waste. This will prompt colleagues to think about the waste they are binning and encourage them to recycle it if possible.
For a sustainable future of recycling, it's also important to reduce consumption altogether. Checking and regulating shipments of day to day equipment and office-based groceries is the way forward.
Have a think about your purchases. Is there a way to reduce packaging? For toner and printer ink, does the company supply you with a send back scheme for empty plastic waste? Changing your consumption habits will not only shrink your company's plastic footprint but reduce plastic production across the globe.
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