Make your office a more environmentally-friendly place

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Photo by Alesia Kazantceva on Unsplash

The office is a hard place to bring environmentally-friendly practices into. You go through paper like nobody’s business, you’re already (most likely) commuting by car, and the amount of waste thrown away during the day by EACH office worker is staggering. But, with a few tweaks, your office can be running a little greener:

Environmentally-Friendly Supplies
Office supplies have come a long way from the boring old paper clip (shit guys, I have GOLD paper clips. They’re bougie as fuck). Now, you can get paper clips from recycled metal, FSC paper, pencils made from recycled newspaper, or ones that have seeds in them!
Change out your regular office supplies (once you’re through with them) for more eco-friendly options. Re-use scrap paper for draft copies, instead of killing a tree just so you can edit a print copy. I would say don’t print it out to edit, but I know the struggle. Editing online is more annoying and time-consuming than inking up 30+ pages with notes and revisions.
On the major plus side, by re-using scraps for draft copies, you’re saving your company money on buying paper. And, ways to save money is always a good thing to bring to the boss.

Recycling Program
I’ve only been to one office where they didn’t have a recycling program. It’s beyond weird to see someone throw away a recyclable product these days (and maybe will eventually become weird to see someone throwing anything out!). Adding a recycling bin to your desk and a large one(s) for everyone to use is a great way to ease your office into a more environmentally-friendly world.

While recycling is the easiest way to step into a more eco-chic office, composting may be one of the easiest AND hardest. People will likely oppose composting at first, stating that the smell will contaminate the office. But, if done properly and taken out regularly (there’s the key!), you won’t even notice it. At my old office, we implemented a compost program that uses a garbage can, composting bags, and my yard. The upkeep falls on me, which I’m perfectly happy to carry out. While I was away honeymooning other eco-conscious individuals in the office took care of the compost for me.

In order to have an environmentally-friendly office that doesn’t fall down the second you’re away, you need to gather up all the like-minded people and get everyone (or nearly everyone) on board! You’ll be surprised at how many people actually care about what they’re throwing away, how they’re throwing it away, and how they can be better. most people are also open to contributing a few dollars to transform the office into something that is a little nicer on the planet. But, someone has to take the lead.

For those who need a little bit more security in the compost area, a composting bucket, either metal or the compostable bins, would be a perfect way to ease yourselves into the whole office composting business. Besides, it’s mostly just coffee grounds that go into it. Don’t worry, you don’t have to wait until spring or summer to start this up. You can totally compost in the winter months.

Add a Plant
I’ll never stop suggesting that you add a plan to figuratively, and literally, green up a place. They are so pretty, calming, and people LOVE seeing plants in offices. Source: the comments I received in my office-space when I plunked one down my desk. See if your company would be interested in investing in a living wall. They look so damn cool, and if you’ve any social media accounts for the company, will definitely up your game.

Back Away from the Keurig
Keurig coffee pods are ruining the environment one deliciously perfected cup of coffee at a time. Luckily, the world stepped up and invented re-usable Keurig filters. Grind your coffee (or buy already ground coffee), pour into the pod, and pop in like a regular Keurig pod. Empty into the compost, rinse, and repeat.

Yeah, it takes a longer time, but you can get any type of coffee you want (even that fancy shit from the hipster cafe down the street) and you don’t have to worry about convincing the boss that you NEED those insanely expensive Keurig pods.

If the budget is tight and you need to start small: try the new Keurig pods with compostable bottoms. They’re the exact same as the regular Keurig pods, but you just throw them into the compost bin once you’re done using them.

Starting fresh? Invest in a regular ol’ drip machine. I’m not sure why we thought it was a good idea to move away from them, as they’re not hard to maintain, and coffee is simple to make.

Carry a Straw, Mug, Tumbler, Utensils
While I keep everything at my desk that’s needed to eat or drink, some offices still offer styrofoam cups for their employees. Damn guys, get out of the ‘80s, and let’s all get some office mugs or tumblers. Especially an office tumbler.

A Starbucks run (or 5) is nearly mandatory to get through some workdays and you’ll most likely be grabbing a beverage that needs either a cup or a straw or both.

Keep a warm tumbler, cold tumbler, and a re-usable metal, bamboo, or paper straw in your desk so you can cut down on how many coffee cups are thrown away AND you never have to use a plastic straw, again. Or, just keep one universal tumbler if that’s the way you want to live your life.

Head to the thrift store, IKEA, or even your own cabinets (I always end up with a box of mugs I don’t need every 5 years…it’s a weird problem to have) and slowly build up your own stash and kitchen. Replace disposable coffee cups and water cups with re-usable ones and take turns washing them all, or wash your own at the end of the day (somehow this is always the hardest task in the office — why, oh why, will no one wash their own table-ware?!).

Pack a Lunch
Buy some cute containers, or some nifty beeswax wraps, and pack your lunch! It’ll save you money and will stop you from ordering out and making even more waste from that burger joint down the street.
That’s it. The easiest tip.

Walk, Run, Bike
Basically, do anything but drive to work. For all of you who HAVE to drive to work (like me!), don’t feel bad about it. I constantly feel bad because I have to drive from my home to my place of work. Why? Because no buses run from my small town/community to the city. If a train or bus did, I would happily jump on board. *Ahem* Do you hear me RM Councillors?

For those who live closer, try leaving the car at home once or twice a week and use your legs or public transportation.

So, this is definitely not going to work in the pandemic world right now, but this tip is for when we make it out of this!
For those who must take a car, try carpooling! Get together with your neighbourhood and start a carpooling community. You’ll get to meet your neighbours, save on gas, and help the environment. I know…it’s scary! Chatting to new neighbours can be nerve-racking; I’ve yet to psych myself up for this one! Maybe you all will do better than I will.

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