Enabling Wholesale Changes In Workplace Sustainability
By Sally Writes
Worldwide, over 300 million tonnes of plastic are produced each year, and of that, 8 million ends up in the ocean, according to Our World In Data. Plastic now makes up 80% of marine debris, posing a mortal threat to our marine ecosystems, and modern business sadly has a part to play in this. By now we’ve all heard ways in which we can do our part at home in the effort towards creating a more sustainable future, but how can we apply this eco-friendly mindset to the workplace?
Curb your caffeine
Coffee is the lifeblood of many modern offices. This comes with a cost – according to Green Match, 16 billion disposable cups are thrown away every year. This amounts to over 6 million trees. To make matters worse, fewer than 1% of these cups are recyclable. Effecting culture change by encouraging coworkers and employees to bring their own reusable mugs is a great way to begin – you could even go a step further and provide these cups yourself. There’s an added benefit to this: most cafes now offer incentives to customers who provide their own cup or, at the very least, cater to the use of reusable containers.
Furthermore while biodegradable tea bags are becoming more widely available, most still contain plastic, a fact that many may find surprising. Stocking canteens and kitchens with biodegradable tea bags will make a small but important dent in the footprint of your office. In recent years there has been an emphasis on the reduction of plastic straws, with many restaurant chains opting to replace them with paper alternatives. While they are a great plastic-saving measure, encouraging coworkers to bring their own long-lasting metal or glass straws is even better.
Removing the bottles
Reusable coffee cups are one half of the sustainable drinks challenge most offices face. According to the RCU, Americans throw away over 35 billion plastic bottles every year, only 25% of which are recycled. Employers can reduce the waste caused by single-use water bottles by banning their use and instead providing filtered tap water in the office. Supplying employees with reusable water bottles will reduce plastic use both at work and, most likely, at home. To that end, opting to drop plastic-bottled milk in favor of more traditional glass bottles will also reduce waste significantly and save a huge amount of waste and energy.
Scrap the wrap
Plastic wrap is difficult to recycle, and the chemicals it’s made from can be harmful to the environment as they break down. Yet Americans use over 160 million rolls of plastic wrap each year. Encourage coworkers to ditch plastic wrap in favor of paper or wax wrapping for their home-made lunches.
Creating a sustainable workplace does not have to mean widespread or tumultuous change for your business. A few simple changes, applied using incentives, can create real culture change and bring benefits to the entire business. Doing so will improve the health of your workforce and the health of the planet.