How to Be Sustainable at Work
March 12, 2021 | By Amy Carpenter
There are a few things I pride myself on in life: one, being able to dislocate my pinky. It is hands down the coolest thing about me. Two, I’m very friendly.
Well, I’m friendly toward people. And animals. But the environment? I’d really, really like to get better. That’s why I’m researching ideas on how to be more sustainable, specifically in a work environment — and I want to share them with you!
#1: Get a reusable container for lunch/reusable water bottle
This is probably the easiest (and cutest!) way to make an environmental impact — getting yourself a reusable lunch container and water bottle.
According to the EPA’s website, “EPA used statistics from the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) to estimate post-consumer paper and paperboard generation in 2018. The total generation of paper and paperboard in MSW was 67.4 million tons in 2018, which was 23.1 percent of total MSW generation that year.”
In other words, tons of paper is used in America every year, and unfortunately, lots of it ends up in landfills. One way you can combat that is by investing in a reusable lunch box, or even just bringing Tupperware from your own house. Plus, when you use a reusable water bottle, you’re likely to stay more hydrated throughout the day (rather than just tossing your disposable water bottle once it’s drained). It’s a win/win!
#2: Get a recycling bin for your desk
Whether or not your office has a recycling bin you can use, getting one to keep at your desk is a smart method to make sure you actually do it. So many of the products we use around the office can be recycled, and having a receptacle close by that you can automatically put those products into is an effortless way to show a little love to the environment.
#3: Go paperless with an online workspace
This is probably my favorite suggestion on the list because not only is it an amazing, efficient way to be more environmentally friendly, it’s just an incredible idea across the board. Going paperless and using a collaborative online workplace (like Asana, Trello, or Dapulse, among others) is about a billion times more efficient than distributing copies of office documents and it helps everyone stay organized (and for scatterbrained folk like me, keeps you from losing things). It’s easy to implement, beneficial for the office, and so great for the environment.
#4: Get reusable pens
Little things can make a huge difference.
Bet you didn’t know this was an after-school special, huh? (Also, do they still have those? If anyone comments on this telling me that the ‘90s called and wants its joke back, I will go crawl under a rock somewhere.)
Seriously, though, so many pens end up in landfills every year. Earth911.com explained, “As we try to reduce our environmental impact, it’s easy to forget that smaller items — like pens and pencils — can add up to a lot of waste. . . . Americans toss 1.6 billion disposable pens annually. These plastic pens end up in landfills and as litter. Some of this plastic waste makes its way to our waterways, where it breaks down into microplastics, polluting our water and harming ocean life.”
Thankfully, you can keep your pens from ending up in landfills by buying refillable pens — a.k.a., pens that come with extra ink cartridges. It’s easy peasy and the earth will thank you.
#5: Turn off electronics
Conserving energy (and thereby reducing our carbon footprint) is another easy way to be more sustainable in the workplace. And hello, it’ll save money on your company’s electricity bill, so can you say win/win?! Seriously, though, the amount of electricity consumption from leaving electronics on standby is staggering, so do your office a favor and turn off the electronics before you go home for the day.
#6: Get plants!
Did you know that NASA published a study revealing that plants absorb a significant amount of indoor toxins? And Good Earth Plant Company’s website gets specific about the exact amount of toxins plants can absorb: “Early data published by Dr. Bill Wolverton . . . tells us that several common species of interior landscape plants have the ability to remove compounds such as formaldahyde, benzene, and hexane in the range of 50 to 75 percent of the total volatile organic compounds.”
Plus, plants promote productivity, boost happiness, and just generally make office life brighter.
Being sustainable in the workplace has never been easier. What are some things your office has implemented to become more green? Share in the comments!
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