Offices, much like many other businesses, are currently feeling the pressure to go green. Finding ways to become more eco-friendly, whether it’s in our day-to-day lives or in business, is one of the more useful cultural movements we’ve seen, so the fact that many people are jumping on the bandwagon is a positive thing. Installing energy-efficient power strips, motion-sensored lighting, and low-flow faucets are a great place to start. When it comes to the supplies we use, though – whether it’s printer ink or the paper it’s applied to – we’ve got to find ways to cut back. Offices use a lot of supplies that are difficult to recycle…but the word “difficult” does not mean impossible.
How to Recycle Office Supplies and Safe Money
If you’re trying to introduce recycling initiatives in your office, start by setting a budget. It doesn’t have to be a large budget to make a difference (and remember, most recycling expenses will pay themselves off), but you are going to need some startup cash. Then, try doing the following three things to get started.
Start with Paper
When offices get audited for their paper usage, it’s often shocking – we use way more paper than is necessary, especially in the technological age. Switch to using electronic copies where possible, whether it means e-mailing instead of faxing, setting up an electronic billing cycle, or using direct deposit instead of physical paychecks. Then, make sure that all paper used in the office is recycled paper – not just printer paper, but toilet paper, paper towels, and paper dinnerware, too. Eliminate disposable coffee cups in favor of ceramic mugs if possible; you can get a few for a dollar at the thrift store! Also, stop using colored paper, manila folders, and other types of paper that cannot easily be recycled.
Then with Electronics
Find ways to make your electronics less wasteful. One good place to start is to use rechargeable batteries for things like digital cameras and projectors – batteries are difficult to recycle. Then, try buying re-manufactured products when possible. Micro Solutions Enterprise is an example of one company that remanufactures toner for printers, but there are many companies that sell aftermarket electronics and accessories. If you distribute cell phones to your employees, try getting refurbished phones; people often get rid of phones before it’s necessary, so these are cheaper and less wasteful.
Then with Hard-to-Recycle Items
There are a lot of items used in the office that seem difficult to recycle, but hazardous to throw out, such as Sharpie markers, tape dispensers, and electronics. Try getting on board with a company like Terracycle, which allows you to send these items to them so they can properly recycle and/or dispose of them. You’re recycling what you can, while making sure that anything that can’t be recycled is making it to the right place. You’d be surprised if you knew the number of things that you throw out on a regular basis, like certain food wrappers, packages of cleaning supplies, and glue packaging which can easily be reused to eliminate waste.