Many of us have made some simple changes at home such as buying recycled toilet paper and reducing single-use plastic, but how do we apply this way of buying to the workplace?
Well the low-hanging fruit for that question is to start with replicating what you and your fellow employees have already done at home. Ask around what everyone else is doing and make it a group effort. The more you involve others the better understanding and uptake you’ll get to the changes.
Here are some areas to consider:
- Start a compost collection - Check out the solutions available through your local Council.
- Refill your detergents and cleaning products through a container return program or bulk refill shop.
- Refill tea and coffee at your local bulk food store, organic store or coffee roastery. Instant coffee in compostable packaging can also be purchased through Jasper Coffee. Bulk store links below.
- Recycle any unavoidable soft plastics through RedCycle at Woolworths or Coles.
- Order a fruit box or salad box for shared lunches from organisations such as Ceres fair food. When they deliver your next box they will take back the old one, no waste!
- Refill soap containers at your local bulk store or buy a bulk container from your preferred manufacturer to cut down the amount of packaging you need to recycle.
- Purchase your recycled paper or bamboo toilet paper and tissues through Who Gives a Crap and they’ll deliver for free!
- Use essential oil based air fresheners in a spray bottle instead of a spray can or make your own.
- Treat your employees to a nice refillable pen. The pen will last longer and produce less waste. Whiteboard markers can also be purchased refillable.
- Purchase 100% recycled products and where possible, Australian made. This isn’t exclusive to paper based products, a lot of desk stationary such as rulers, desk caddies and staplers can also be purchased made from recycled or biodegradable materials. Just add recycled or biodegradable to your normal search or purchase from stores that specialise in environmentally friendly products (refer to store links below)
- Furniture can be a big investment. Lower the ongoing long term cost of that investment and improve the longevity of the products by buying good quality second-hand. One less desk and chair being manufactured, one less desk and chair going to landfill.
There is a substantial amount of savings and resource reduction to be had with anything electronic. So much so I wrote a whole article on it! Read it here.
Do a Waste Audit
Now have a look at what else is actually going into your rubbish and recycling. Can you reduce any of that?
Does your accounts department need the paper-cut inducing, fire hazard, of all those invoices? Switching to a cloud-based accounting package that allows you to upload invoices electronically is becoming the norm and frees you up from printing and storing something you’ll likely never look at until you shred and recycle it in 7 years time.
When it's necessary to print, do you need to print single-sided? Set your printers to print double-sided, black and white by default.
Takeaway Cups and Containers
Encourage the team to use reusable containers whenever they are getting takeaway. Most cafes are happy to fill your cup or container and it's likely you won’t be the first to have asked them to do so. Or take a break and sit in at your favourite local cafe.
There are some great apps and software out there now where we can use virtual notes, photos and post-it notes to facilitate the same conversations but without the extra pen and paper usage. What’s even better is that you all have access to the workshop notes after the session. No need to attempt to capture the conversation in a photo and particularly useful for times when we can’t be in the same space for the workshop.
The changes above also have the added bonus of showing you care about your team and the environment you share.
A Little Extra On Bulk Shopping
The thing I love about bulk, aside from the waste reduction, is that you can choose the container that your product is stored in to match your style and usage quantity. If you’re new to bulk shopping and sourcing through ethical companies I’ve added some links to resources below.
This is not a complete list of suppliers, and not all of them are local to your business but worth mentioning as they may be close to your home.
Ceres Grocery - Brunswick East
Gram - Fitzroy
The Source - various locations
Friends of the Earth - Collingwood
Wild Things - North Fitzroy
Terra Madre - Westgarth
The Staple store - Ripponlea
One Less Bottle - Brunswick
Most organic stores
Also check out this filterable map from Reusable Nation for a more comprehensive and up to date list.
Biome (online and Burwood)