It's the last week of the 2016 Plastic Free July celebration month. If you're already practicing the 4 Rs — Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle — to cut down on or eliminate single-use plastics around the office, we have a fifth 'R' to add: Raise awareness.
It only takes one person to spread the word about the huge environmental problem our discarded plastic water bottles, coffee cup lids, straws, eating utensils, and the myriad other supplies in our break rooms and board rooms, are causing. And it's never too late to begin implementing policies to help stem the tide of plastic pollution.
For example, here are 8 ways to go plastic free at the office, compliments of Ban the Bottle:
- Initiate a company-wide ban on single-use water bottles
- Prominently display recycling containers throughout your facility
- Install a sustainable water dispenser
- Create a sustainability team
- Give all employees a refillable sports bottle
- Place a filtered-water carafe in every break room refrigerator
- Distribute literature to employees about the harmful effects of water bottle waste
- Provide employee incentives for bringing in and using reusable Bottles
Read more about each of these measures at Ban the Bottle here.
Meanwhile, why not get your whole company involved by encouraging and helping to implement new policies and procedures? The Plastic Free July organization lays out a whole bunch of creative ideas, including:
- Host a "nude food" lunch — or a plastic-free morning tea;
- Host a movie screening;
- Run a "wash-up" station;
- Run a nude food workshop;
- Start a coffee cup library;
- Conduct a trash bin audit;
- Participate in or run a Two Hands Project clean-up;
- Provide better products and services to your customers! Plastic Free July suggests these alternatives:
- Only provide a plastic bag if the customer asks;
- Place a surcharge on plastic bags;
- Offer cardboard boxes or paper bags to customers;
- Offer a discount to people who bring their own bags;
- Where possible, source products that aren't ridiculously over-packaged;
- Sell goods in bulk or offer refills if people bring their own containers;
- Provide alternatives for people to purchase (e.g. reusable water bottles, netting and cloth bags);
- Refrain from providing straws. It is amazing how well lips can work to drink straight from the cup!
- Provide glasses for tap water instead of selling bottled water.
We love the idea of installing a "bottle-less" water cooler that hooks up to and filters your municipal water system, and will help to reduce some of the billions of single-use plastic bottles that get landfilled well past July. Isn't it around the water cooler that all the important things gets done?