In support of Earth Day, we are considering how offices can become more eco-friendly. Long gone are the days of fax machines and working on paper; now the biggest office evil is single-use plastic. Earth Day is held annually to demonstrate and promote environmental awareness; it calls for action for the protection of our planet. This year it falls on 22nd April and more than 193 countries will take part in promoting its importance.
A crucial action we must make is to reduce the amount of plastic we produce. In 2015, humans produced over 320 million tonnes of plastic globally; more than the combined weight of every human on earth today. Based on our current usage, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outnumber fish by 2050. Unfortunately, these devastating statistics will continue to spiral unless action is taken by each and every person.
This Earth Day why not implement activities that will broaden your employees awareness of these issues. Whilst individual efforts to use less plastic are important, like any team, we can make more of an impact when we work together. Businesses must lead from the front and acknowledge the scale of the problem; it’s more important than ever to demonstrate how they are helping the environment. Cutting plastic output on a business level results in large reductions not only in the office, but it creates a ripple effect of positive changes among colleagues, customers and even the industry.
The best part is that reducing plastic usage doesn’t have to be difficult or costly. Most of the following suggestions are easy, plastic-free swaps that once purchased, easily pay for themselves. Encourage your business to lead by example and invest some time and effort into making the change. Once converted, you’ll never look back.
1. Gift Reusable Coffee Cups to your Team
Use that staff budget wisely and invest in some reusable coffee cups for your team. Office staff run on coffee, whether that be to get them through their commute, morning meetings or afternoons at their desks, coffee is an integral part of any office workers day. Strong Vend estimate that Londoners spend a whopping £1,500 per year on their coffee whilst at work. This staggering figure raises a bigger question: what’s being used to contain that coffee? An astounding 2.5 billion coffee cups are used and thrown away each year in the UK alone (enough to stretch around the world five and a half times), but as few as 0.25% are recycled.
One sure-fire way to help tackle this problem is to provide long-lasting, reusable coffee cups. Gifting reusables will encourage employees to develop eco habits of their own, whether at work or in their personal lives, and move away from their reliance on single-use plastic. Fancy a bit of free advertising? Brand them! It’s a win-win!
2. Provide Unlimited Filtered Tap Water
Globally, we use a million plastic bottles a minute. A staggering statistic considering in many countries today tap water is safe, free and more regulated than the water used in plastic bottles.
Encourage your team to avoid contributing to this statistic by providing a water cooler or putting a filter on the kitchen tap. Promote this correctly and you’ll witness a surge in refilling reusable water bottles!
3. Have Reusables in the Kitchen
Everyone is aware of the evils of disposable plates and cutlery, there’s no place for them in modern society. Seemingly harmless, plastic cutlery is useful for just minutes, yet will stay in our environment for centuries. Is it really worth it?
Not only is the disposal of plastic cutlery problematic, consider how detrimental the beginning of its life can be to the environment. All the manufacturing, transport and distribution required for a few minutes of convenience is ludicrous. But, how can we conquer the single-use plastic epidemic? It’s simple, opt for reusable, washable cutlery and plates that can be used again and again by your staff.
4. Organise a Team Park Clean-up
As they say, “seeing is believing” so why not organise a team park clean-up and allow your team to see the scale of the issue for themselves. Nothing beats first-hand experience and unfortunately, if you take them to any local park, beach or river near your office, there is guaranteed to be litter to be picked.
We are all part of the plastic problem, so it’s time we shared the responsibility and done our bit to help improve the issue. Not only is it great for the environment, but it’s a wonderful way for your team to bond whilst doing something meaningful. Get them out of the office for an hour, take them to your local park and pick up all the litter you can find.
5. Evaluate Plastic Usage in Different Roles
Start by asking each team member how much plastic and disposable products they use in their roles. Follow this up with a brainstorming session to decide how this can be reduced. Although these quantities may be seemingly miniscule, every little change towards a plastic free office can make all the difference.
Crucially, making people aware of how much plastic they use in everyday life is a perfect way to encourage future plastic-free decisions. These are behaviours that will that will transcend the office and spread to home life.