If you know me personally, you’ll be well aware that I’m a massive advocate for living life as zero-waste and plastic-free as possible.
I carry a reusable stainless steel water bottle with me at all times. I use mesh bags to buy produce from the supermarket and carry it home in linen shopping bags. I use a biodegradable toothbrush. I buy preloved whenever possible.
And I ditched those horrible single-use plastics like straws and cling film many years ago now.
So you won’t be surprised to hear that I’m constantly working towards creating an office space that has the tiniest impact on the environment that is humanly possible.
You’re probably the same. You’ve seen the documentaries, you’ve read the newspaper articles and you want to fight back against climate change and the plastic pollution crisis. You want to make a difference.
But you’re overwhelmed by all the stuff that you need to run a productive and efficient office.
So let me show you seven easy ways you can run your business without harming the planet and adding to the problem of waste.
1. Buy second hand
Second-hand shops, charity shops, Facebook Marketplace and online classified listings like Preloved and eBay are great places to buy all kinds of office supplies such as ring binders and those horrible plastic folders to organise your stuff, right through to pens and paper.
If you’re really lucky, you might even find one of those refillable pens that you can switch for your Bic and get extra planet-saving brownie points too.
You can also buy excellent quality preloved (often reconditioned) phones, laptops and other office equipment and save yourself a ton of money when you choose this over a brand new item which uses a needless amount of the earth’s resources.
There’s no need to go out and buy a stapler if you only use it once per year when you do certain admin tasks. Or splash out on the latest printer/scanner/photocopier when you really only need to print the occasional document.
Instead, borrow what you can from friends and family or use public facilities like the library, internet cafes (yes, they do still exist!) and search online for hire schemes like Borroclub and The Library of Things for those bigger ticket items that you need.
3. Opt for reusable
You can easily find tons of cute, stylish and functional eco-friendly stationery options which get the job done without costing the planet. These include those biodegradable and refillable pens, refillable pencils and even naked paper clips that can be used again and again to organise yourself in the office.
4. Choose recycled
These days you can find pretty much everything in the office made from something recycled.
Whether this is recycled printing paper, recycled notebooks and diaries or even pens and pen holders made from 100% recycled plastic, you’ll know that by choosing one of these, you’re making a small difference to the world.
Remember that reusing your own leftovers paper or items that your friends and family discard also counts as recycling, so don’t be afraid to accept any hand-me-downs from family and friends.
5. Find recyclable, compostable or sustainable alternatives
Did you know that those pencils without rubbers on the top are 100% compostable?
And that you can get highlighter pencils instead of those nasty plastic type?
And staple-free staplers, compostable bin liners and easy-to-use solar chargers?
There’s no excuse to stick to those old products when you could be doing so much more.
6. Avoid printing
Unless it’s absolutely essential, you should avoid printing anything out. Instead, keep your documents in digital format and save those trees!
5. Make postage plastic-free
Those plastic bubble wrap envelopes might be fun when it comes to popping those bubbles, but they’re a mixed material product that is almost impossible to recycle. Instead opt for traditional cardboard, newspaper and paper tape to wrap it all up.
6. Get rid of unnecessary junk
Most companies don’t bother sending junk mail anymore, but you’re still likely to find the occasional piece or two landing on your mat. It’s time to get rid of it all.
Opt for online bank statements, mobile statements and any other bills that you receive on a regular basis.
Put a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your door. Go for the digital version of your magazine subscription. And if you still find yourself getting junk mail and you live in the UK, work your way through this excellent list to put an end to it all.
7. Reconsider your food and drink options
If you work from home, you have maximum control over what you’re eating and drinking. You can use your regular plates, knives, forks, glasses and mugs and then throw it into the sink.
But if you go out to buy your lunch or you work from an office, this isn’t possible. In this case, the greenest option to go old school and bring your own with you in reusable containers.
Not only will you reduce the amount of waste you’re generating, you’ll also save yourself a bob or two and be able to eat exactly what you want, instead of having to compromise with buying whatever is included in Boots’ Meal Deal.
Take your lunch in a reusable box, fill up your reusable non-plastic water bottle and make sure you take any waste home with you where you can recycle, reuse or compost it.
As you can see, it’s much easier to have a greener office than you might have thought. There are so many resources, products and services available these days that there’s no excuse not to do your bit for the planet and move towards having a zero waste office.
[I should take this opportunity to mention that none of the links I’ve shared here are affiliate links. I’m just sharing useful information.]
Are you working towards creating an eco-friendly office? Any tips? Share your thoughts below 🙂
AUTHOR: CHARLOTTE WITTS