Plastic is all over the news, and fully deserves to be, due to the harmful effect it has on the planet and the number of animals it harms. Approximately 8 million pieces of plastic enter our oceans daily, and that number should be cut down from business large and small, as well as individuals at home.
An increasing amount of people are making more of an effort to cut down plastic, but companies are always a little late to catch up. This needs to change because not only do businesses spend money to get rid of their waste, but they also use it on a much larger scale than someone at home.
If you follow these steps, you can drastically save on waste collection fees, help save the planet, and have the ability to label yourself a forward-thinking business- people are more likely to buy from a company that cares about the greater good of the world, as businesses with good intentions are more trusted.
1. Talk to your staff
Reducing plastic usage is a lot easier if everyone is on the same page. Slowly integrating a plastic waste-free workplace culture is hugely beneficial in the long run, and it even starts a chance of kickstarting a domino effect where your employees or colleagues take these steps at home too.
You can start by holding a meeting, where you talk about the company taking on a new direction to combat the huge amounts of plastic pollution in the oceans. You can include short-term goals, long-term goals, a rough plan of action or anything else that people may get inspiration from.
At the end of the day, one person altering their waste habits in the workplace is a small step in the right direction, but more people on board means more of an impact. You’re operating as a team in the workplace, and convincing them that you’re also operating as a team to reduce plastic pollution would be hugely effective.
You could also have a quick brainstorm at the end of the meeting, where people can chime in and suggest ideas. The most important thing is cooperation. If everyone feels involved and like the whole team is working towards a goal together, it’s a lot more engaging for those involved. Making it not seem like a chore or a rule is key.
You can introduce some creative ideas to get ideas flowing, like a guide on what in the office is reusable, or incentivising good ideas from staff. The more effort you put in, the more effort other people will put in!
2. Reusable everything
Work environments run through water bottles and plastic cutlery fast. If you’re in an office with 100 people, odds are, a sizeable amount of the workforce buys a cup of coffee on the way in, a bottle of water on their break, a meal with plastic packaging for their lunch (eaten with a plastic knife and fork) and countless other plastic items that serve no purpose once used once.
It’s often hard to win over people with old habits, but introducing real mugs and glasses into the workplace will stop the use of single-use plastic cups, installing a filter onto the kitchen tap (or even just buying a filtered water cooler) nullifies the need for going out and buying a bottle of water, and generally giving staff more resources to be green will make it a lot easier for them.
Real plates and cutlery can go a long way too, and will eliminate the need for a large portion of single-use plastic in the building. Plastic forks are a waste of money anyway, with real ones being slightly more expensive but lasting years.
3. Conduct a waste audit
Gaining a more in-depth understanding of what waste you’re putting out is an extremely effective way to cut down on plastic. You’ll get a detailed report including the types of waste that are most common, and the amount of it, which can give you a direction for where to focus on first, and can help you come up with a plan. Knowing that you have a huge number of plastic forks in the bin at all times makes it a lot easier to buy steel ones.
This can be done quite easily. Put on some rubber gloves, empty out the bins and record what’s inside on Excel. When you’ve put all of the details down, you can see how much plastic you’re wasting first hand and take the right steps to use less.
4. Request plastic-free
If you work with suppliers for different things, talk to them about your new ethos and ask how they can cooperate- a lot of suppliers provide polystyrene packaging or other alternatives. If they don’t offer an option with less plastic, feel free to ship around! There are plenty of suppliers of all kinds that make huge amounts of effort to slow down plastic pollution, and they’re worth taking a look at.
This also extends into things as small as milk bottles. Switching over to regular glass bottle deliveries and collections means that you’d reduce the number of plastic bottles in your workplace’s fridge to zero.
5. Take a look around
A lot of the items in the workplace are made of plastic but don’t have to be. If you’re a clothes shop, look at the clothes hangers you use. Are they plastic? Would wooden ones be just as effective? If you’re in an office, can you start using wooden highlighters instead of plastic ones? There are numerous small changes that can be made, which, small as they seem, do add up to a lot less plastic in your building.
Cutting down on plastic is an easy thing to do, it’s all about changing small habits and reminding yourself to use the alternatives. Once you learn, the differences are quite substantial for no real added effort.
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