“Waste is a symptom of an inefficient process
California Government business waste website
“Don’t throw anything away. There is no ‘away.’ ”
Shell Oil advertisement
From a business viewpoint, waste makes no sense. You pay to buy things, you pay for their space, and when you have no further use for them, you pay more to get rid of them. Less waste means savings for your business.
From an environmental viewpoint, reducing waste preserves resources, conserves energy and reduces pollution. Recycling is therefore good, and preventing waste from being generated in the first place is even better.
- It can be a challenge to get people to recycle effectively in the office. Consider doing an occasional informal office waste-stream audit (that is, look at what’s going in wastebaskets that should be in the recycling.) Tell people what’s not being recycled, and what’s ending up in the recycling by mistake. Offer incentives for improvement. This is a great assignment for someone with persistence and a sense of humor.
- Buy only what you know you will use. Bulk purchasing can save money, but don’t buy so much that things go bad; find the balance.
- Return old office equipment through product take-back programs, or donate it to an organization that can use it.
- If neither of these is possible, make sure you dispose of electronic waste through an appropriate e-waste disposal program.
- Use recycled laser printer toner cartridges (it’s called recycling, but it’s really re-use). Send empty toner cartridges to be refilled.
- Get off business junk mail lists. (See Reducing Unsolicited Mail at Your Business).
- Use ceramic or glass mugs for coffee and tea.
- Buy products with recycled content, to close the recycling loop.
- Look for minimally packaged items. For retail locations, tell that you prefer to sell items with less packaging.
- If you have a store, encourage consumers to use their own bags. Asking, “Do you need a bag?” provides an opportunity for people to think about whether they couldn’t just put a small item in their pocket, or use a bag they already have in hand.