Five ways to eco-boost your day at the office (every day!)

As the kids are gearing up for school, adults are gearing up for going back to work after our summer vacations. Oh wait, some of us never left. Either way, it’s a great time to kick start some new, sustainable habits along with that new, hopefully better, fall wardrobe you’re about to show off.

Most of us spend just as much time at the office (or other workplace) as we do at home. Therefore, what environmentally friendly choices we make during working hours certainly matters!

Here are five easy ways to eco-boost your day at the office. EVERY day!

1. Ditch the disposables

Using disposable cups for office coffee and water is a nasty habit. There is absolutely no reason to add cups to landfill every day, because you’re too lazy to wash up. If your office has a dishwasher, all the better, if not, there is no shame in taking your cups home now and then to give them a deep clean. If you’re a stir stick fan, use that plastic piece of nonsense multiple times (or how does over 500 years in landfill before it degrades sound?).

Disposable water bottles don’t belong in the office either, since most offices have a water cooler you can use. And if not, ask your employer to invest in one (or maybe water filters for all kitchen faucets).

cup
Scarf + coffee mug = match made in office

2. Be eco-smart about lunch

Lunch is the one meal a day that you get to control 100%. No boyfriend, wife, family or friends cooking for you or suggesting what’s for dinner. Use this opportunity to eat vegan meals, or at least put beef and dairy on the “forever forbidden lunch food” list. Avoid places that use disposable dishes and cups.

Pack your lunch now and then too (in reusable containers) to save the car trip, napkins, unwanted straws, receipts and cash.

3. Trash belongs in the common area (not your office!)

If you have a personal trash can in your office or cubicle, ever notice how the trash bag is changed almost every night? Throw a banana peel in there and I guarantee you the cleaning crew will change the bag. This behavior wastes so much plastic! 100 employees, 220 workdays, that’s 22,000 (half empty) plastic bags going to landfill every year! Take your trash to a common area, like the kitchen. Bonus! You’re less likely to sit on your butt all day.

4. Turn that light off

Just because you aren’t footing the electricity bill doesn’t mean Mother Nature isn’t. Unless you’re working in a building powered 100% by solar panels – a turbine, coal plant or nuclear reactor somewhere is making energy for you. Turn off your office lights, bathroom lights, fans, heaters and electronics when you leave a space. Help your forgetful colleagues by turning off their lights too (hey, only when they’re not there!).

If you have access to the A/C thermostat, great, set it to a comfortable (higher) level to save the building electricity! Plus you and your colleagues don’t have to use personal space heaters (to warm those cold feet). [Reader tip!]

5. Reduce, reuse and recycle

80% of office waste is paper, so being mindful about paper use is key. Only print when you need to, use both sides of the paper and collect all paper for recycling. I bet your office has a secure shredder bin or recycle collection bin, and if not, encourage (hmm, more like demand) that your employer gets one. Help your colleagues remember to recycle by setting up local paper collection trays in your specific work area. If you see a piece of paper in a personal office trash can (see point 3) give the person the evil eye. It’s effective.

recycling tray
Three people at work use my collection bin :)

That’s my list! I do these things every day and I promise it’s so easy! We can all make a difference while we’re on the clock. Quite the win-win.

Do you have more ideas on how to maximize our eco-friendliness at work?! Leave me a comment :)

17 thoughts on “Five ways to eco-boost your day at the office (every day!)

  1. Great tips! I actually got rid of my desk trash can for that reason – I couldn’t stand when they would change out the bag for one item! Now, I only have my recycling bin (that includes specific instructions for the cleaning crew not to touch, so I can take it home), and my small amount of trash gets thrown away in our break room. But I love that I rarely even have trash to throw away.

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    1. I even put a bilingual sign on my trashcan asking the crew not to change it! lol. It did NOT work, so yes, got rid of it. They do stay away from the recycling tray and the random things left on my desk that I take home to recycle :)

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  2. Good, and easy to implement, ideas! I think everyone can do 80% of these in a heart beat! 👍
    Other thoughts: car-pool, bike, walk or use public transportation to and from work when/where available… Have a hand dryer in the restrooms instead of paper hand towels…
    Set the AC a few degrees higher!! I’ve never not had to wear at least a cardigan in the American offices during summer.. Sometimes also a scarf.

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    1. Hi Linda! Great bonus ideas!! I hadn’t thought of the hand dryer since we rent an office space we can’t do much about common facilities which unfortunately also includes the AC! Burr. I will add the AC idea though, I am sure many people do get to change the thermostat. Thanks :-)

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  3. I am also heading back to school… as a teacher! I see a LOT of waste at school, so it is great to get the students involved in my eco-conscious habits. I let them see my lunch kit and how I go waste-free with my food. I also get involved in compost and recycling programs at school, and remind the students to do so. I also started hanging a pretty towel in the staff washroom to avoid paper towel waste; I swapped the towel regularly to wash it at home, and I am hoping other staff members were using it too.

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    1. That is so great to hear! How awesome that the students get to learn and become more aware by you sharing your actions as zero waste/environmentalist. It should be mandatory in all schools. Thanks from all of us that’ll live a while longer and share the planet with your students ;)
      GREAT idea on the towel! I might do that for the kitchen here! (our bathrooms are shared by the whole office building, not sure who uses them maybe I’ll add just a sign there to not waste paper ;))

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      1. Every little step helps!

        I wouldn’t say ALL of my students jumped on board (they were teenagers last year), but since I’m still relatively young I think I can sell it really well to them. I know a lot of them were inspired and we had some excellent discussions around waste. We even did a big project around waste reduction week that included a lot of our fellow bloggers from the Zero Waste Bloggers Network. I was so proud how it all came together: https://zerojourney.wordpress.com/2015/11/21/project-awareness-part-2/

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  4. These are great tips! I have a collection of paper that I try to print on the back side. Everyone knows that the back side of the staff meeting minutes will be scratch paper! I like your idea of getting rid of the trash can. I totally need to do that! Thanks for sharing on the #SustainableSunday.

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