Commingled Corner: How to become your office's Eco Ambassador
Cringe every time your well-meaning coworkers casually toss a container into the trash? Wish you could wax poetic about the intricacies of our nation's recycling system in the break-out room? Or maybe you generally just have recycling on the brain. If any of those resonate with you, Eco Ambassador may be just the uncompensated and under-appreciated role for you! (Ask the RoadRunner - "green" glory makes it worth it!)
Step 1: Nominate your Ambassador
Okay, so maybe we made that one up... While the results of an office Eco Ambassador program are not universally quantifiable, the qualitative benefits - including financial savings, office-wide employee engagement & professional development opportunities, not to mention massive diversion increases - are not to be underestimated. Read on for RoadRunner's tips on implementing a successful Eco Ambassador program in your small business, apartment complex, facility or office space!
Did you know that offices with Eco Ambassadors are 99% more sustainable and 94% happier than those without a green program champion?
Every successful program begins with an enthusiastic green champion! As a volunteer position, the ambassador should be naturally driven to make organizational change. It's a wonderful learning experience, both on an industry and a professional development level, as he or she will gain critical management, motivational and behavioral change skills.
Step 2: Design an Office Disposal Plan
Using organizational knowledge and observation, the Ambassador can begin to lay out what kind of trash and recycling containers are required to accommodate daily accumulation, and where they should be placed for maximum recovery. Do employees typically toss old papers by a printing station? Consider setting up clean paper only bins over there. Where do staff find it most convenient to toss their plastics? Make sure that you keep simple behaviors and traffic flows in mind, so that the program naturally works for the end users.
Step 3: Make Sure to Communicate with Your Haulers
The waste management process is like a relay race, with materials bought, used, discarded and handed off from one step to the next. Make sure that all of your in-office efforts make it through to the finish line by communicating any receptacle, bin, liner or stream changes to your hauler. This way, all your clean materials can stay uncontaminated and you'll ensure they are able to be reclaimed for recycling. The efforts will make a real difference in the long run!
Step 4: Share the Green Wave Enthusiasm!
The best part of all of this is that by making small changes in the workplace, you'll be spreading awareness and building habits that translate beyond the workplace. Scheduling regular informational events and activities can help get your coworkers involved and excited about making responsible changes. Consider supplementing an office hour by bringing in small pots and planting seeds. At the evening's end, encourage bottle collection. By this time next year, you may have converted enough employees to gain momentum for a composting program! There's no limit to what you can create once you get people motivated.
Step 5: Recommend Reusables
Setting the scene for sustainable habits makes it easier to perpetuate them. Get the ball rolling by heading to a nearby thrift store to pick up a whole range of cutlery, mugs, glasses, and dishes. They'll be immediately appreciated - if people can come in to work and count on having access to these basics, they'll be more likely to pack food! This reduces reliance on single use packaging and helps your employees and coworkers manifest healthy habits, plus it saves them money in the long run. Bonus: It may even cut down on your waste bill! At the end of every month, you can celebrate and mark progress with a potluck style "family" meal, which also serves to foster workplace connections and cement your program's importance through ritual.
Excited to go off and get your program started right away? Let us know how it goes in the comment section below by sharing any tips or personal experiences - a green tip is worth a lot in our community! Happy recycling from our office to yours!