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Overhead view marble kitchen counter top with computer keyboard, cell phone, reading glasses, dark coffee, beans and bagel on plate. Work at home concept.

Wendy is our Community Engagement Manager and has been the mastermind behind all things Shoreline Sweep for four years. She has coordinated thousands of volunteers to improve the environment by cleaning up litter at the Sweep and other volunteer events. While this is only one facet of the many projects Wendy works on to protect our local waterways, it’s made her passionate about reducing waste in the office. Many people spend 40+ hours a week working. When you work in an office setting, there are a few things you need to know. Where is the water cooler? How far in advance do you book the conference room? How close is the local coffee shop? While many processes are put in place to ensure that day to day operations run smoothly, sometimes waste management logistics get overlooked. Everything including the kind of coffee maker you use can significantly impact the environmental impact your office has.

Here are 8 ideas for an environmental workplace!

1. Hang up recycling tips on the fridge. Recycling protocol differs per municipality and depending on where each employee commutes from, they might have a different perspective on recycling. In order to keep everyone on the same page, it’s super helpful to have recycling tips printed out and put in the kitchen. Making it as clear and simple as possible for employees to know what items go in each receptacle.

2. Have different receptacles to dispose of each item and label them. Recycling can get complicated past what goes in the curbside bin. Plastic is a recyclable material, but is your coffee cup made of just plastic? What about your cardboard pizza box? Our office has the following receptacles: A trash can A recycle bin A compost bin A bin for plastic film A bin for Styrofoam The reason for all of these bins is because they all go to different places. Liz gathers the Styrofoam from our office and brings it to a separate location. The plastic film goes to a local grocery store in the same place where you can return your plastic bags. The compost goes to Farmer Pirates. The trash and recycling goes to Buffalo municipalities. Think through what options make the most sense for disposing of items in the most ecologically responsible way.

3.Compost!;Composting is a great way to reduce waste and reuse food items in the environment once again. While not all food can be composted, you’d be surprised how many items can be. Banana peels, apple cores, compostable paper towels and containers can all be repurposed for soil if put in the correct bin.

4. Offer water from the water coolers instead of water bottles. When outside professionals, volunteers, and partners visit our office, we like to offer them a beverage. While many offices provide water bottles, we steer clear of single-use plastic items when offering a beverage. Most offices have a water cooler, so why not offer your guests a refreshing water cooler beverage instead of a plastic bottle? We have two water coolers in our office that filter tap water.

5. Get a reusable popcorn popper for an afternoon snack. Everyone needs a pick me up to refuel and finish up the day. At our office, we have popcorn! To avoid all waste, we have a reusable popcorn popper for the microwave that you can add kernels to and flavor accordingly. The perks include of this method include:

1. Reducing waste.

2. Popping the perfect amount of corn!

6. Reusable Plastic Utensils. We host a lot of events outside of our office. As a work around for bringing our kitchen utensils, we invested in reusable, post-consumer plastic silverware that can be washed after use. If you’re eating in, use regular kitchen utensils or keep a reusable pair in your bag!

7. Double-sided printing. Printer settings are a great way to save on resources! Not only does printing double-sided help to decrease waste for the environment, but it also helps to save money!

8. Type of coffee maker. Many offices use single-cup coffee makers in the office so that employees can make a cup when they want one. Many of these machines use packets that are challenging to recycle and unnecessarily wasteful. Instead of investing in a machine for single cups of coffee, we have a coffee brewer that uses a compostable coffee filter. We grind the coffee beans as needed and put some in the filter on the cup while heating up a pot of hot water. Not only does it make a more delicious cup of coffee, but it also creates no waste. Each morning, we also brew a pot of coffee for the office!We realize that depending on the size of your organization, some of these things might be more complicated to implement, so if you have any questions, please reach out! Interested in a custom program on this topic?

Get in touch!

I think it’s funny that I’m getting the credit when I just point out the problems most of the time, but really multiple staff members came up with these solutions!

Wendy Paterson

Community Engagement Manager