Drive down my alley and you’ll see three bins behind most of my neighbors’ homes. The blue one is for recycling, the smaller green one is for trash and the big grey one is for compost. Yup, I live in a town filled with folks who care about how their lifestyles impact the environment. At least at home they seem to care, but a conversation I had with a friend recently had me wondering if my neighbors practice their “clean living” at work?
My friend works at a large law firm in the city and after getting my last blog, she began to notice all the waste her office was creating.
She watched as coworkers printed every email, threw away ink cartridges, plastic bottles and worst of all, paper.
“Lunch was the worst!” she said. “I watched my coworkers eating off plastic plates and ordering food from restaurants that still use throw-away packaging like Styrofoam and plastic straws. It took all my power not to criticize my boss as I watched him crumble his brown paper bag and throw it into the trash because a recycling bin wasn’t available.”
Wow! Is it possible a ton of companies still operate on a daily basis without a conscious or care for our planet? How many are out there that don’t even recycle paper much less other plastics?
Russell and I have the final say about how we operate in our MAJAMAS Earth Studio and we’ve made our employees just as fanatical about the environment as we are. Everyone knows we make eco-friendly fashion, but we stick to sustainable office practices as well. From the paper we use (recycled/recyclable) to the shipping methods and materials, we do our very best to ensure our office creates barely half a bag of trash per week. We compost, recycle, and encourage our contractors and vendors to do the same.
So how do you manage your day to day when you feel as if you’re parking your environmental values at your employer’s door? Speak up!
Reach out to your Operations Manager or Office Manager and suggest these 5 easy changes to keep your company’s impact as small as possible:
1. PASS ON PRINTING
If you must print it, ensure your documents are double sided and printed on recycled/recyclable paper using single spacing and narrow margins, if possible. Post all documents that MUST be posted in common areas instead of printing hundreds of copies. Better yet, use email or suggest an intranet software that does so much more than it did when first introduced in the 90’s.
2. BREAK YOUR BAD BREAKROOM HABITS
In the break room, ensure only reusable utensils are available for everyone. Have coworkers bring their own cups for water dispensed from a water cooler or faucet, avoiding single serve plastic bottles. If you must have disposable cups and utensils for guests, buy the compostable ones. Ensure there’s a compost container in the break room for all to use and ensure napkins, excess food, and all other compostable items end up there.
3. SEEK OUT SUSTAINABLE SUPPLIES
Did you know you can recycle batteries and ink cartridges? Buying reusable batteries that you can charge overnight to eliminate waste is even better!
4. PICK ECO-FRIENDLY PACKAGING
Ask your vendors to use packaging that can be reused or recycled, and if they can deliver without packaging, even better! See if they ship in reusable containers that travel from location to location.
5. BE READY TO REUSE
Reuse file folders and re-label envelopes that can be used again. Re-use the blank backs of recycled documents if you must print something that doesn’t have to be presented or formally produced.
Speaking up when seeing poor practices in the work place can be difficult but think about the impact you’ll have once these changes are implemented. We only have one planet and regardless of how small or large your workplace may be, the waste your office generates has a direct impact on it.
Let’s face it, most of us spend more time at work than at home and if you’re uncomfortable with any aspect of your company’s operations, it’s your job (and right) to speak up.
Change IS possible and getting a company to operate responsibly won’t happen overnight but change has to start somewhere so why not be the force behind it?
– Germaine Caprio, Company Owner & Designer
What practices would you recommend for a zero waste workplace?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below! Your comment may even win you a free MAJAMAS garment this week!
** A big THANK YOU to Pinterest users for all these fun photos!*