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Ten Ways to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle at Work

Recycling doesn’t need to begin and end in the home. Americans spend about a third of their time at work and can make a positive impact on the environment and community by taking just a few simple measures to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

And if your workplace hasn’t established recycling or waste reduction programs, don’t worry, everyone can make a difference or even take steps to establish company-wide initiatives.

 Here are 10 simple ways you can reduce, reuse, and recycle in any workplace.

  1. Say no to single-use plates and utensils. This simple tip will keep paper and plastic out of the waste stream and it’s as simple as taking steps to bring your own dishes to work rather than using plastic silverware and paper plates. When your dishes are dirty, simply take them home and wash them with the regular dishwasher load.
  2. Say yes to a beverage bottle. Water/drink bottles are available in a wide variety of styles and at multiple retailers and with good reason – using them makes sense. Avoiding single serve plastic bottles keeps plastic out of the waste stream and contributes to a healthier environment.
  3. Make recycling easy. If your workplace doesn’t offer recycling, take charge and set up a can collection area and take charge of transporting the aluminum to the recycling center when full. Most workplaces support environmental initiatives and may offer some support for a recycling plan managed by an employee.
  4. Recycle printer cartridges. Printer cartridges can be recycled at many office supply stores so when replacing a cartridge, simply placed the used cartridge in the packaging and it’s ready to be recycled at your convenience.
  5. Save ink, recycle fewer cartridges. Print documents in draft quality, black ink only. Set your printer defaults to this setting so this ink-saving measure gets done without any thought.
  6. Use two sides of every piece of paper. If possible, use both sides of a sheet of paper by printing back to back. Another way to use this simple idea is to simply use the back side of waste paper for notes.
  7. Once you’ve used both sides of a piece of paper, shred it. Shredded paper makes a better recyclable product so if your office shreds paper for security, consider adding your excess paper to the shred pile so it’s reused efficiently and effectively.
  8. Collect and recycle corrugated cardboard. Many offices produce corrugated cardboard waste but not enough to justify a company-wide recycling plan. If this is the case in your office, take charge and breakdown cardboard and store in a convenient spot until it can be taken to a recycling facility. Corrugated cardboard is highly recyclable and doesn’t take much room when flattened and prepared for transport.
  9. Dress in layers. No one likes to be too cold or too warm at work but adjusting the thermostat leads to unnecessary energy waste in the workplace. Dressing in layers allows you to be comfortable during the day and contribute to a healthier environment.
  10. Consider alternative transportation. We love our vehicles but there are a variety of ways to get to and from work that can save you money and save the environment from unnecessary emissions. A few options to consider are: Bike or walk to work if there are safe routes available, take public transportation, or carpool.

Being environmentally aware at work is simple and, by doing so, you may encourage others to do the same. If your workplace offers programs to reduce, reuse, and recycle, take advantage of those programs; if not, take the lead and create programs that the company, and your co-workers can get behind.

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