Very much in the news these days is the devasting effect that plastic has on our precious wildlife if left to blow and float around our landscapes.
Most of us have seen video footage of animals and birds caught up in something made of plastic – seals trapped in fishing net, birds with plastic bottle tops wedged onto their beaks, turtles with plastic straws jammed up their nostrils, deer with their heads caught up in discarded plastic garden furniture.
And we know it doesn’t end there and that there are plenty more incidents of creatures being ensnared in plastic, and even, sadly, dying from such a predicament.
Whilst there may be no quick fix to this worldwide problem, there are still many campaigns afoot to try and reduce the amount of plastic used, both at home in our day to day lives as well as in industry, especially supermarkets, who are turning to providing paper bags and allowing people to bring in their own containers in for produce.
My thoughts today though have turned to the workplace, the office, and it’s amazing just how much plastic there is just sitting here and looking around.
So, here are few ideas that I’ve had to try and reduce the amount of plastic used here The Survey Initiative, which is not exhaustive I may add, but may get you thinking as to what you could do in your workplace.
- Swap pens for pencils
In this day an age of electronic communication and printed documents, very little is actually written down – how many people or organisations send a written piece of correspondence for example? Not many I’m sure, so for note taking, and making lists, use a pencil instead of a pen or if you are particularly partial to ink – a refillable pen.
- Stay clear of the vending machines and coffee pod machines
Hot drinks machines are extremely popular, not only do they offer what seems like an infinite amount of choice, but for the busy worker, it saves time. However, the benefits of avoiding such machines, far out ways the slight inconvenience of making a brew yourself. Bring in your favourite cuppa choice, boil the kettle, and take the time to make your drink. Not only will it give you a break from your duties for 5 minutes, but you’ll savour the refreshment much more.
- Give your lunch a punch
We’ve all done it. Some of us do it a lot. Normally through being disorganised in the morning, or in a rush. It’s so easy to pick that pre-prepared salad from the supermarket, you know the one, that comes in a clear plastic bowl, with a plastic sachet of salad dressing with a plastic form provided for easy consumption. That is 3 whammies of unnecessary plastic purchase. Come on now, get organised and bring in your own salad in a reusable container as well as your own non plastic cutlery.
- Bulk up
Every workplace uses cleaning products. Liquid soap, washing up liquid, window cleaner, floor cleaner – you name it, and most of it comes in some form of plastic dispenser. Why not see if you can order in bulk and refill the dispensers making them last longer before having to be disposed of. And as for liquid soap, why not use a bar of soap instead? People often think that it is not as hygienic, but if you think about it, a bar of soap gets rinsed off with clean hands, whereas, a soap dispenser would have been touched with dirty hands before they are washed.
- Have a word with your suppliers
We’ve recently had items delivered from our stationary supplier in a large cardboard box. Not a problem in its self, as paper and cardboard are widely recyclable. But what was shocking was the amount of clear plastic air filled pods inside the box to use as padding to protect our items. Did it not occur to them to use a smaller box, or a more recyclable friendly option like brown packing paper? Clearly not, and the time it took to pop these pods . . . . .
- Think ink
Your workplace printer uses plastic ink cartridges. They can be quite large, using large quantities of plastic. Make sure you know where your nearest recycling collection point is and ensure you dispose of them through this method. You could also think about how much ink you use, if you have to print something, can it be done in black and white instead of using colour? Do you have an economy print option on your printer? Using less ink, adds to the lifetime of the cartridge, meaning less to recycle, and money saved. Who wouldn’t want that?
I would suggest that you set up a sustainability team to look more closely as the amount plastic used at work, and come up with ways to effectively reduce consumption without affecting productivity – as I said, there’s no quick fix to this global problem, but even a small step to getting rid of plastic has got to be a good thing.
The Survey Initiative is an experienced employee research company with over 20 years expertise in the field and is also completely passionate about environmental awareness. If you would like to know more about how we can help your organisation with any employee research matters or would be interested in a FREE Employee Engagement Consultation, then give us a call on +44 (0)1255 870735 or contact us via our website here.