Working towards a zero-waste future may be your goal, and while it sounds ambitious, there are small changes you can make to your daily habits to get you well on the way to designing out waste. Here, we’ve compiled five measures anyone can take in their office (or at-home office!) to start, or continue on, their zero-waste path.
Morning Coffee Run
Skip the coffee shops and single-serve pods and brew your coffee at home. Whether a French press or common coffee pot is used, the left-over coffee grounds can be added to your compost bin, turned into a facial scrub, or even added to houseplant soil to help with aeration. If at-home brewing is not an option, remember your travel mug for coffee shop visits and have them fill it with your favorite cup of joe.
Sustainable (And Social) Lunches
Too many times, we’re so busy that we have to grab lunch and eat alone at our desk. Consider hosting a potluck at your office one day a week and include your own reusable dishware and cutlery. Or, if you don’t have an office full of co-workers to round out your lunch menu, bring in last night’s leftovers in your reusable container or do some meal prep so taking your lunch doesn’t feel so overwhelming. Remember to compost any remaining fruit and veggie scraps.
Plastic Film Avoidance
Even when most of the components of food packaging are recyclable, there are some parts that might have plastic film, which can’t be recycled at the curb. So even if we do our best to shop with reusable bags and avoid the other plastics typically encountered, the reality is, we’ll probably end up with some of it. Luckily, there are services available for you to collect and drop off plastic films and bags at a nearby grocery store. Find where your nearest plastic film recycling drop-off location is.
Move the Trash Cans to a Central Space
Sometimes by force of habit, we throw away materials that can be composted, recycled, or diverted from a landfill simply because a waste bin is nearby. By removing the trash bins near desks, it’ll inspire you to think more about the materials you dispose of, where the waste should go, and hopefully give you a chance to run into a colleague or friend while responsibly disposing of waste. That’s a win-win-win!
Compost What You Can
Americans throw away nearly 40 million tons of food each year, equating to 219 pounds of food waste per person. While food can decompose faster than plastic, it contributes to 7 percent of greenhouse gasses and attracts bugs and rodents when thrown away. There are ways you can avoid having food waste end up in a landfill. If at-home or at-work composting is not an option, many cities offer organic waste pick-up services that may even provide compost back to you for your garden.
Imagine if an entire office participated in these zero waste initiatives. Not only would you be decreasing your eco-footprint but you would save money, build camaraderie with co-workers, and know you are doing your part to reduce waste and make sure that any that remains ends up in the proper waste stream rather than in landfill.
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