10 ways to reduce waste in the workplace

We all know that reducing waste is an important part of conserving our planet’s resources and protecting it for many years to come. Fortunately, many of us are conscious of our impact and make efforts to reduce waste at home by recycling, returning bottles, using ceramic dishes over paper plates, and so on. But what about reducing waste in the workplace?

Companies may not put time, money, or energy into workplace waste reduction if they believe it’s too inconvenient to establish a program, or that it’s trivial because it doesn’t bring the company money. However, while reducing waste may not generate revenue in the traditional sense, it will ultimately save your business money.

Even if your company isn’t ready to establish a dedicated team to help take green measures, there are simple ways to reduce waste that are easy to implement, help the environment, and save you money in the long run:

1. Go (nearly) paperless

While recycling is helpful, the biggest impact comes from using less paper in the first place. With programs like Google Docs that allows you to write, edit, and collaborate for free online, and Dropbox, a free service that makes it easy to sync and share files, it’s easier than ever to eliminate the amount of paper you use in the workplace. Consider adding a “think before you print” message to the bottom of your emails as a friendly reminder to coworkers.

2. Keep a paper recycling bin within arm’s reach

People recycle when it’s convenient. At ISCG, every trashcan has a small recycle bin attached so that it’s visible and doesn’t take any extra effort. Make it easy for employees to recycle by meeting them where they already are (at their desks) with a bin.

3. Print smarter

Sometimes printing is necessary. Save up to 50 percent on paper costs by having employees set their defaults to print double-sided, and ask employees to use the “Print Selection” function, which encourages them to only print what they need and reduces wasted sheets of paper.

4. Provide real dishes and silverware

Instead of spending money on wasteful paper plates, harmful Styrofoam cups, and flimsy plastic utensils, invest in real dishes and silverware for your office café. You’ll save on the cost of purchasing and disposing these items over time, and real dishes are much nicer to use. Make everyone responsible for cleaning their own dishes, and if you can, spring for a dishwasher to make it even easier.

5. Get rid of the K-Cup machine

Those millions of little plastic cups can’t be recycled and go straight to the landfill. K-Cups may seem economical because you can make one cup of coffee at a time, but they are much more expensive than coffee beans. A pound of K-Cup coffee goes for roughly $50, while Starbucks is $12 per pound, and Dunkin is only $9 per pound. Invest in a machine that grinds the beans to make one cup at a time, and buy coffee beans in bulk to save money.

6. Buy in bulk

Coffee beans aren’t the only thing you should buy in bulk for the office. Purchase items like sugar and creamer, snacks, cleaning supplies, and Kleenex in bulk instead of individually packaged to lower the cost per unit and reduce the amount of packaging you throw away.

7. Reuse binders and file folders

Provide label stickers so employees can write over and reuse binders and file folders instead of throwing them away after one use.

8. Create a recycling center

Make a small recycling center by providing bins to put returnable bottles, non-returnable bottles, and paper. At ISCG, we have these three bins and a trash bin hidden in two large pull-out drawers in the kitchen. Money from the bottle deposits is money in your company’s pocket.

9. Provide filtered water

Install a filtered water tap or keep a large Brita pitcher in the fridge so employees can pour a glass of water instead of grabbing a disposable plastic water bottle. Your company will save money on bottled water, and landfills will be spared of more plastic.

10. Give employees a reusable water bottle

Surprise and delight employees with a reusable water bottle with your company’s logo on it. There’s a small cost associated, but ultimately you’ll save on plastic water bottles, promote wellness, and get free advertising when they carry it outside the office.

There are countless ways to reduce waste in the workplace. Try these suggestions to see how easy it is and how much money you can save. And if you’re ready to create a more sustainable workplace overall, contact ISCG – we can help!

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