It’s not as difficult as you might expect to green your office. Even if you’re a tenant in a small building you can make a difference. Here’s an easy way to start. The easiest place to start is in waste reduction.
Step 1: Just like we do at home, we can separate garbage from recycling and compost. How? Replace all trash bins under the desk with recycle paper only bins (or just re-assign the bins you have). Provide recycle cans and bottles, trash and compost disposal bins at coffee stations or lunch rooms only. This simple initiative has several benefits:
- Each individual becomes aware of how much trash we create. With awareness comes the opportunity for reduction. For example, if most of your take-out lunch packaging is not recyclable, ask your food vendor to consider a change. If enough customers ask for the change, the vendor may comply.
- Compostable waste such as apple cores and banana peels become aromatic before the end of the work-day: in today’s open-office environment this affects the whole neighborhood. If your under-desk bin is not emptied nightly it also invites insects and vermin.
- A short walk-break is healthy for an office worker – enjoy the stretch and get the blood circulating.
- For the business owner: If under-desk bins contain only clean recyclable paper, a reduced pick-up schedule may be feasible: this could reduce contract cleaning costs.
Why not put recyclable plastic and bottles in the under-desk bin? They contain food and drink residue. See point 2.
To make this work you need to
• Get buy-in. Let everyone know about the change you want to make and their role in it.
• Make sure you have appropriate, well marked recycling, trash and compost receptacles in the designated areas.
• Mark each under-desk bin with a clean paper sign or logo (individuals can participate by marking their own).
• Explain the new procedure to every employee and stress the value of full participation.
Step 2: Make appropriate arrangements for disposal of all waste.