Each year we as individuals make resolutions for ways we can be better. But as many of us come to find, when February rolls around some of the promises we made to ourselves, or the people around us, have fallen by the wayside. Most often this isn’t a sole person’s fault, but can instead be blamed on the unpredictability of life that easily gets in the way of achieving our goals.
Schedules grow busier, opportunities dwindle, or the expectations we set have become a bit too ambitious. Whatever the reason, New Year’s resolutions usually require some sort of reset along the way.
Organizations can be similar. Pledges are made, strategies are finalized, but it’s common that after the momentum from the first of the year passes, some plans fall by the wayside or need to be readjusted.
That’s why, whether you’re a business trying to be more environmentally friendly or an individual trying to recycle more, we wanted to provide some easy tips, backed by RoadRunner’s expertise, to keep your sustainability goals achievable all year-'round.
TIP #1: BUILD SUSTAINABILITY MOMENTUM
If you’re a business owner or operator, consider building momentum within your organization around sustainability by creating a group of passionate employees to lead the charge. One of the best ways to garner enthusiasm is allowing employees to help create and facilitate sustainability initiatives that are reasonable and achievable for your business.
A “green team” (or sustainability committee) whether in an organization or even within your family’s home, can be a great avenue for ensuring that the goals you set and adjust for your space are created by individuals that know and care about the environment they’re in. Meaning, your passionate employees can determine the sustainability goals that are most likely to impact the business.
You can further support a team like this by incentivizing them to help the organization reach new heights. Offering a free team lunch or gift card to the department that recycles the most, donates the most clothes for a drive, or finds a way to cut back on plastic is a great way to help people take action. These are just a few of many examples of how friendly competition can keep the momentum for sustainability flowing well past the new year.
TIP #2: SEPARATE RECYCLABLES & MAKE BINS ACCESSIBLE
We’ve talked before about the power of the clean-stream method for keeping your recyclables less contaminated and easier to reach their end destination (a recycling facility instead of a landfill). This is beneficial for two reasons: It increases recycling effectiveness and it saves money on your waste bill, which can easily be mired by contamination fees.
If you’re at an organization, one of the easiest ways you can ensure people recycle better and more effectively is to make the bins for your most commonly-recycled items accessible in areas with the most foot traffic. Perhaps it’s at the front of the store for customers walking in and out to dispose of their aluminum cans, in a shared cafeteria for employees to use after lunch, or at the office’s entrance and exit. Wherever you choose to put recycling bins, try to make them visible to increase their usage.
Additionally, be sure to provide more than one recycling bin with clear signage to help folks know how to clean and separate their recyclable materials. The most common material types would be paper, cardboard, and commingled recycling (bottles and cans). And, if you don’t have the bandwidth to kick-off an initiative like this, RoadRunner’s team is here to help you assess your waste needs and get started.
TIP #3: REDUCE DISPOSABLE ITEMS AND SINGLE-USE PLASTICS
Whether in an office space or at home, there are plenty of ways that insidious single-use items and plastics have made their way into our everyday spaces. Disposable utensils, coffee cups, straws, plastic shopping bags, and water bottles are all common things that provide a small convenience while having a dire impact on our environment.
Consider replacing disposable coffee cups with reusable mugs, providing reusable water bottles to employees, or placing a stash of stainless steel straws in a shared kitchen. More than that, you can leverage a “green team” to help gamify reducing single-use items. For example, having employees submit photos of them taking steps to reduce plastic by packing their own lunches with utensils from home or using a canvas tote bag instead of plastic bags at the grocery store are just a couple of ways they can benefit our environment. It’s small consistent changes like this that can make the biggest difference.
TIP #4: DISCOVER VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES THAT PROPEL SUSTAINABILITY
Show your company’s commitment to sustainability by providing easy access or incentive for employees to take time to volunteer. It could be a clean-up in a local park, helping a nearby school plant a garden, or picking up trash around the neighborhood. You can also leverage research or common websites like Keep America Beautiful’s Great Global Cleanup page to find local opportunities.
Whatever the action, showing an organization’s support and commitment to making the world a greener place is an easily achievable goal that can support sustainability initiatives and employee momentum all year-round.
TIP #5: MAKE YOUR OFFICE ENERGY-EFFICIENT
This last tip may be one of the easier changes you can make to create a sustainable space. The first step is to review which parts of your organization impact energy the most. Are the lights in the office staying on too late even after everyone has gone home? Could more efficient bulbs or choices be made to conserve energy? Is there a way to automatically shut down “energy-vampires” like leaving items plugged in that don’t need to be?
Answering these questions is the first step to identifying opportunities that, again, help you make small changes that have a big impact.
No matter where you are on your sustainability journey, we hope that the above will help inspire your organization to discover easy ways to keep the momentum going for the greener good.
RoadRunner is always here to provide support whether it’s through education, training, or a customized plan to streamline your waste operations and reach your sustainability goals. To learn more keep exploring our blog or reach out to learn how we can help you recycle more and spend less.