Making the Office Earth-Friendly

Photo Credit: mark sebastian via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: mark sebastian via Compfight cc

Recycling may be pretty convenient when you’re at home, but what about when you’re at work? Single family homes usually have separate bins for trash and recycling. Apartment complexes have huge recycling dumpsters set aside. Business buildings aren’t required by law to provide any recycling at all though! I’m not sure why this is because I bet businesses use the most supplies! A typical office will run through tons of paper each day. Then there’s all the aluminum cans and plastic bottles that could be recycled too. You can definitely recycle whatever you use on your own, but what about the entire office?

Begin with yourself
It always starts with you. If you don’t do it then how can you expect others to? Set the example by showing others it can be done. If someone sees you doing something good, they might starting doing it too!

If you have recycling bins at home, make sure you bring back whatever can be recycled. Just because you don’t have a recycling bin at the office doesn’t mean you should toss that bottle in the trash. Documents might be iffy though, because there might be confidential information on them.

Think before you print
Since offices use the most paper, this is the easiest way to be more earth-friendly at work. I mostly just view documents on my computer and rarely ever print anything. Most of the time, there is no need to print anything out, and I just end up having to carry extra things around anyway. Documents with imagery also look much better on your computer screen than printed out. Unless the document is specifically made to be printed, it was made at a low resolution that doesn’t look good. If you do have to print, just make sure to use both sides of the paper and print in smaller type. Printers usually have a double sided printing option. You’ll also have less in your bag if you use paper wisely.

If you can’t print double-sided, try using both sides of the paper before recycling it. You can create your own recycled paper pad by clipping paper to a sturdy backing. Voila! You’ve got an instant notepad.

If it’s a small office consider bringing home the recycling
When I discovered that the office I work in a few days a week didn’t have recycling, I offered to take care of the recycling if they wanted to set up a collection area. When it came time to buy a new trash can, they opted for a nice simplehuman one that actually has two bins: one for trash and one for recycling.

Now once a week, I lug the office recyclables home and toss it in the bin. I probably look like a trash lady walking down the street lugging a ten pound bag of recyclables, but the extra effort is worth it for me. Not only do I make sure more items get recycled, I also work out my arms a bit! Plus, there’s the added benefit that if someone is out there looking for someone to mug, they will most likely pass right over me. Someone carrying round trash probably won’t have a lot of money.

Most offices are definitely bigger than mine though. Perhaps another person there can swap days with you instead so you have some support.

Ask why recycling isn’t available
You can also start the conversation by asking HR why recycling isn’t available. Sometimes it only takes one person asking to start something going. If people don’t say anything, then no one will do anything because they’ll assume nothing is wrong.

It’s just another step to making this world a lot more earth-friendly! Does your office promote earth-friendly habits? If not, what do you do to be environmentally friendly there?

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