5 Things That You Can Recycle at Work Today
Offices generate a lot of waste. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some office items that you didn’t know that you can recycle… And maybe one or two that you knew but (like the rest of us) can still use a gentle nudge. Here’s Shoplet’s top five office items that you can start recycling today:
1) Plastic Bags
Americans go through around 274 million plastic bags a day. That’s a lot. They’ve become so much of our lives that it’s difficult to go a day without being handed a bag at least once, whether you really need it or not. We also use bags to pack lunches and to wrap food for the office. Most people throw these bags out, but what they don’t know is that many kinds of plastic bags can be recycled – just not in the blue bin. Many grocery stores have plastic bag recycling bins, usually located near the entrance. These bins can also recycle bread bags, freezer and sandwich bags, and other similar items. Best advice: Take your lunch bag home with you, and designate a place to put all of your plastic bags so you’ll be able to bring them to the grocery store. You can also do this at the office if there is a grocery store nearby.
2) Ink and Toner
Most people also don’t know that ink and toner constitute a huge part of office waste. They’re made of plastic, metal are mechanically complex and fairly difficult to produce. It takes about one gallon of oil just to produce one ink cartridge! The good news is that because of how hard they are to produce, ink and toner cartridge recycling is much more profitable than other kinds of recycling. There are plenty of third party companies that will pay to collect each cartridge. Best advice: Place a small box near printers (especially those with heavy use). Label it ‘Ink/Toner Recycling’ and let it fill up. Do some research on local places to send the cartridges. This could end up saving the company money over time, and most importantly, it is better for the environment.
3) Computers and Technology
While most people go through electronics rarely, modern offices can go through electronics surprisingly quickly. If technology is being updated for example, a medium-sized company may find itself with 30 old computers to dispose of. The good news is that there are plenty places that take electronics of all kinds for recycling. In some cases companies will charge a fee, especially if they have to pick it up and take it to a new location, or if data has to be erased as a security precaution. But this fee may be waived depending on what you are recycling, and in some cases you could be paid to recycle your electronics too! If you are currently going through a tech turnaround, inquire about the old ones and make sure they are being recycled appropriately.
4) Plastic Containers
Recycling plastic can sometimes be a little complicated. Many online resources have posters that you can print out and fix above the recycling bin so that people know what things go in and what things don’t. Most municipalities accept #1 and #2 plastic – this means that only items labeled 1 and 2 inside the triangular recycling symbol can be recycled in the blue bins. Many food/deli containers in addition to lids, cups, milk jugs, water and juice bottles actually fall under these numbers. When in doubt, check the number to determine if it can be recycled.
It might seem obvious reminder to mention paper recycling, but while paper is one of the most recycled items at the workplace, businesses are still among the biggest culprits of paper waste. It’s estimated that 50% of paper goes to waste in the trash instead of being recycled. Make it easy for your workplace to recycle paper by placing bins in areas with heavy paper traffic such as by the printer or in the kitchen area.
You can also reuse paper before tossing it in the bin! Paper that is printed on one side can be printed on the other and shredded paper is great packaging material! By placing bins in prime areas, and creating a central area for shipping, it becomes easier to be environmentally-conscious.
Because these items are certainly ones that you use everyday, taking the time to figure out how to reduce, reuse, recycle them in your personal or professional life can help reduce waste and make a difference in the world. Even better, when a whole office becomes involved, it makes an even bigger impact! Most people actually want to help, but need a little education and a little motivation. You can be a leader at your workplace and home – and help inspire everyone you work with to be more considerate and caring about the environment that we all live in.