When you add it all up people spend a lot of time at work, and because of this the typical office cranks out a lot of garbage. There is the expected rubbish, like the unclaimed pages on the printer and spent coffee grounds, but there is also the unnecessary garbage, like single use plates, cups, and utensils. It is completely understandable as to why disposable items are popular in an office kitchen and break room right? There is just something about the office that causes people to not clean as thoroughly. Maybe they think the next person will finish scrubbing where they left off or they hope someone else will put the finishing touches on the dishes stacking up in the sink. Whatever the reasons, your office break room presents a huge opportunity to go green.
1. Think Reusable
Unfortunately, disposable cups and dishware are not a very eco-friendly solution. Plastic utensils are recyclable, but before you deposit them in the recycling bin they should be cleaned. This begs the question, if you are going to wash plastic cutlery in order to recycle it, why not just ditch the plastic for some permanent items and wash them between uses. Also consider that while paper is in fact recyclable and compostable, it cannot be disposed of in either of these fashions if it has a protective coating, as paper plates and cups typically do. Disposable products may be easier and beneficial in the short term, but in the long term these products can have a terrible impact on the environment.
The type of dishes you use at home can also be useful at work, but if you still just do not like the idea of sharing a coffee mug with the entire office think about bringing in your own personal reusable gear. A travel coffee mug is a safe and convenient way to take your morning coffee along on your commute, but it also works nicely while filling up on office made java or grab a reusable water bottle and head to the water cooler. It also gives you an out from having to use a mug that has made the rounds at the office and may have undergone some questionable cleaning after its last use, but a reusable mug also saves you from having to resort to disposable cups. Take things a step further and design a reusable coffee mug or a reusable water bottle branded with your company’s logo – now your staff can quench their thirst, reduce the amount of trash sent off to the landfill and spread your branding message all in one fell swoop.
2. Make Recycling Easy
Despite your efforts to distribute reusable beverage containers there will still be soda cans and single use water bottles in your midst along with cardboard pizza boxes and Styrofoam take out containers. Set up recycling bins in your break room for employees to deposit their recyclable containers. Make sure the bins are clearly labeled so people know what they can (and more important what they cannot) place in each bin. Select bins that are different colors to help people tell them apart and make sure the bins are placed near the existing garbage can since staff members are already used to heading to that location when they need to toss their trash. By making recycling easy your staff will be able to sort their items without issue and help make your break room a greener place.
3. Clean Green
Traditional cleaning solvents are comprised of harsh chemicals which can be harmful and damaging when exposed to skin, reduce the air quality and can potentially damage water supplies. Green cleaning products get the job done without the toxic chemicals. Check the labels to make sure products that claim to be eco-friendly truly are – unfortunately some companies try to cash in on the green product trend and their packaging may make claims that are not completely true. You need to read the fine print. Look for EcoLogo certification or Green Seal certification to ensure the product really is green. Another key is to make sure the ingredients are plant based. You want a cleaning solvent that features primarily plant extracts – not the same toxic chemicals found in traditional products but with an extra dash of a real citrus scent.
These simple changes can help your company save money and position you to help the environment. Remember that small green changes can yield major environmental impacts, so give these changes a go and try to green up your office break room.