We spend the majority of our time in the workplace, so it only makes sense that we should be ‘greening’ our workplaces as much as possible. With these simple actions, you can help your workplace become more sustainable and reduce your collective impact on the planet.
1. Start a Green Team
If your workplace doesn’t already have a sustainability team, why not start one? You could not only make your workplace more environmentally responsible but also reduce some unnecessary costs, which your managers will love! Build a case for less waste and take it to your manager.
2. Sign language
To help your colleagues recycle correctly, put up signs that are positive and easy to understand as close to the recycling bins as possible. We’ve made it super easy for you with these signs that you can download for free.
3. Location, location, location
Make sure you place your recycling bins as close to the general waste bins as possible. A 2013 study suggests that if a recycling bin is more than five metres away from the waste bin, the recycling rate will be almost the same as if there were no recycling bin at all.
4. Join the recycling revolution
Sign up to one or all of these programs to make it as easy as possible for your colleagues to recycle.
– Cartridges 4 Planet Ark has recycled more than 42 million printer cartridges, turning them into cool things like roads and garden beds.
– MobileMuster recovers 99% of the materials in mobile phones for recycling, from the glass in touch screens to the gold, silver and copper found in circuit boards.
– TechCollect will make sure 90% of materials from your e-waste are recycled. They take things like TVs, computers, printers and accessories (e.g. mice and keyboards).
– TerraCycle recycles prepaid and padded mailing satchels like Express Post bags.
5. Show and tell
For recycling and other positive environmental actions to become a habit, everyone needs to know exactly what to do to get the best results. Try building in recycling training for new staff in their induction and providing information sessions or packs to current staff. To motivate workers, it’s important to explain both how and why they are being asked to recycle. If it’s part of your workplace culture, your colleagues will be more likely to contribute.
6. Buy it back
Unless you’re buying back products made from recycled materials, you’re not fully recycling! The easiest way to use recycled products in the workplace is to buy 100% recycled copy paper, such as Planet Ark Paper. You could also talk to your Facilities Manager about using recycled toilet paper and paper towels, such as the Planet Ark endorsed Naturale.
7. Put your money where your mouth is
Buying products that are environmentally responsible is a great way to make a difference. Switch your communal coffee and tea to Fairtrade climate neutral products, and use natural cleaning products that are kinder to the environment like the Planet Ark endorsed Orange Power range.
8. Fight food waste
It’s easy to go overboard with catering for meetings and functions so that you end up with a bunch of leftovers destined for landfill, which is a massive contributor to emissions. If you notice that there is always leftover food, order less next time. And if you do end up with too much food, see if you can donate it to a food rescue service like OzHarvest, Second Bite and Foodbank. You could also encourage people to write their name on their meals so that the communal fridge doesn’t fill up with forgotten food.
9. Reach for the sky
If your work involves a lot of air travel, most airlines will allow you to carbon offset your flight for a small extra cost. Better yet, you could cut down on flights altogether by encouraging meetings via video conference.
10. The new normal
If you want your colleagues to get involved in all of these positive environmental actions, try to make it the new ‘social norm’ in your workplace. Simply put, we’re more likely to start doing something if we see the people around us doing it. To get people excited about doing their bit for the environment, make sure your messaging (e.g. emails and signs) is positive and non-judgmental. Always highlight the action you want them to do, not the action you don’t want them to do. For example, instead of writing “Don’t leave the lights on when you leave the room”, you could turn it into a positive by saying “Thanks for turning off the lights when you leave”.
Still want more? Visit Planet Ark’s Business Recycling for everything you need to know on how to make your business or workplace recycle more and waste less.
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This article was written by Planet Ark.