Is your business trying to reduce waste? Switching to reusable instead of single-use items is a very effective way to do so! It's common to think, "I work at a small business, there's no way my company can make a big difference" or "I'm only one person, my recycling habits won't make a difference in the big picture." Believe it or not, your business' commitment to reusing when possible WILL make a difference. In fact, small businesses make up 99.7% of employer firms according to the U.S. Small Business Administration! So, chances are, your business can have more of a positive impact by reusing than you may think! To help your business create less waste, we've identified some durable substitutes for your single-use items as well as actionable tips that will help your business "go reusable".
The convenience of single-use, disposable products is significantly adding to the mountain of trash in landfills. The average office worker uses 500 disposable cups and 129 plastic water bottles (that aren’t recycled) every year. The good news is, you can still drink your coffee and water in reusable cups and bottles! Making the switch is one of the most impactful ways to reduce waste in the office. Does your office provide employees with reusable cups? It may pay off in the long run to invest in reusable options, because you won’t be paying for the added costs of disposable items. Plus, you’ll be sending less waste to landfill!
Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times! Encouraging employees to bring their own silverware or reusable eating utensils from home is a much eco-friendlier option than throwing out plastic at every meal. Does your office have a dishwasher? That’s even more of an opportunity to stop using disposables! If the previous options don't work for you, there's always compostable and biodegradable utensils that you can add to your compost pile.
Paper makes up 70% of an offices waste and 4.5 million tons of wasted office paper is sent to landfill every year in the United States. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality claims the average office employee generates 1.5 pounds of wasted paper every day. Most paper waste comes from unnecessary printing and one-sided printing. To save paper, try sending documents and memos digitally when possible. When printing is necessary, print double-sided! You would be surprised how much paper is saved when printing on both sides and how much money is saved. Also, try opting out of junk-mail. Your waste bill will thank you when you start reducing paper (and so will the environment).
Lunchbox / Storage Containers
Did you know, the average American uses 500 plastic-bags every year? If you bring your lunch in a plastic-bag, you should consider using a lunchbox instead. Your lunch box will stay with you for a lot longer than your plastic bag will. The Sierra Club, an environmental organization, estimates that if everyone in NYC used one less grocery bag per year, it would divert 5 million pounds of waste from landfill and save $250,000 on disposal fees per year! Remember that the next time you think you can't make a difference. Also, you can reduce your plastic usage even more by using storage containers instead of plastic baggies.
You may not have thought about reusing printer cartridges, but it can make a big difference environmentally and financially. Cartridge World North America estimates around 350 million cartridges are sent to landfill every year. Even though they are often thrown in the trash after one use, laser printer cartridges can be reused 3-4 times. Up to two pounds of waste is saved from going to landfill every time a cartridge is reused.
Making small efforts to reuse items around the office makes a huge difference! It might involve getting a little creative, but it's always worth it. How does your office "go reusable?" Leave us a comment below and let us know. Or, feel free to reach out to us for some additional tips and information on reducing your office waste! Be sure to use and follow the hashtag #GoReusable to learn more!