Over the years, I’ve attempted to be a bit more sustainable in how I shop, eat, work, and generally do life. I can’t say that I’m perfect or that I know everything when it comes to having a more eco-friendly lifestyle, but I have definitely learned a lot that has helped my piece of mind and hopefully the planet.
If you have any more ideas, please either leave me a comment or send me a message – I’d love to hear how you’re attempting this! I’ve done my best to target this eco-friendly post toward the office setting but if you’d like to see more content like this, please let me know.
Make sure you understand what you can/can’t recycle.
Your city’s website should have a list up detailing the do’s and don’ts of what you can put in your blue receptacle. This is exceptionally key for me, as my office doesn’t do any recycling other than what goes in the shredder (as of today – we’re hopeful!). I keep a reusable tote at my desk that I take home each night with my (and my team’s) recyclables from the day and my Tupperware from lunch.
Below is a screenshot from my town’s website:
Even though this relates a bit more to my home situation than my work one, your office set up might be different (hopefully). You may have great intentions, but it could be going to waste (no pun intended) if you’re blissfully unaware. If you can’t recycle something right where you are, find somewhere (or someone) who can – or even reduce your consumption of it to begin with!
Take inspiration from girl/guy-bosses who do this kind of thing on the regular.
I get a lot of my inspiration from Lauren Singer (her blog // her Instagram). She runs a shop in Brooklyn, NY called the Package Free Shop where she sells more environmentally friendly items with reduced packaging waste. Here is a post from her blog from a friend who is doing the Zero Waste lifestyle in the corporate world, and inspired me to try more at work and write this post.
Find friends (at the office or otherwise) that want to go on this journey with you! I’ve already got my co-workers more conscious about their trash bins, and love seeing how my friend Ava from back home is constantly giving me ideas. Knowing that you’re not alone can help keep your motivation up.
Don’t be afraid to be “that girl (or guy).”
Also, just don’t be afraid in general. Don’t be afraid to email out a packet instead of printing one for everyone at a meeting. Don’t be afraid to take something from someone as they try to put it in the trash. You can start some amazing conversations that way, and hopefully encourage others to be more eco-friendly alongside you.
Maximize what your office already provides.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to minimize waste. I simply use the reusable bowls, plates, and spoons instead of paper/plastic ones. We already run the dishwasher frequently, so I’m also helping fill the dishwasher instead of running near empty (as well as saving the company money by using less of the disposable products that they keep having to buy).
The one thing that my office doesn’t provide is reusable cloth napkins. I understand why they don’t – we don’t have a washing machine at the office – but I do my best to use my own. I bring one up on Monday and take it home Friday to wash.
My office has a system set where if you have something (work-related or not) you don’t want, you can put it on the kitchen table. Whether it’s a random piece of merch from an event or extra tea bags or shirts, they’re getting a new home that isn’t the trash.
It pays off to plan in advance.
I keep my aforementioned reusable tote at the front door of my home while I’m not out and about so that I can fill it up as I’m thinking about it. It also helps for those random items that I need to make sure I bring (like that random coupon I told Leah I’d bring her, etc.).
This way I know I’ll have my lunch packed and ready for the days that I’m inevitably running late and I won’t have to waste any more than I’d like.
Be digital as much as possible.
I love lists as much as the next girl, but I’ve been doing my best to make those lists a bit more digital (or at least not on small Post-It’s) so that even though I don’t get the satisfaction of scratching something off, I can have the satisfaction of saving that piece of paper.
My favorite way to utilize the internet is simply the “tasks” in our email tool, Outlook, where I color-code by type of event for both emails and tasks.
Be conscious of what you do and don’t need.
I already have a few great to-go coffee cups that I absolutely love (one of my favorites linked here). I don’t need to purchase another one (no matter how cute it is) because reduce, reuse, and recycle are in order for a reason. Sometimes reducing means reducing consumption of even more eco-friendly items! When I first started working towards this lifestyle, I found myself wanting to start fresh and buy alllllll the things. I’d recommend working with the things that you already own and make more and more conscious decisions as you move forward!
Speaking of coffee, I love coffee. I also work next door to a Starbucks Coffee shop and you’ll usually find me there at least once a week. One of the “small” changes that I’ve made is to bring my own coffee mug instead of using their paper/plastic branded ones. While I love Christmas cups as much as the next person, I love a 10% discount even more. Yes, I did just say 10% discount – Starbucks isn’t even the only place to do it either. Most coffee shops I’ve been to have this policy. I don’t need a wasteful paper cup (even though my city can recycle most of the pieces of it), but I need coffee. I also enjoy people’s comments about how adorable my octopus mug is.
No one is going to make you take something. Don’t want that extra waste but want to get fast food? Don’t get a soda, or tell them you’re going to use your own cup for it. Use your own bag at CVS or Walgreens instead of theirs to throw your random purchases in. It’s also a great excuse for not taking that flyer you don’t want.
Random Assortment of Eco-Friendly Tips:
- Go for a reusable straw instead of plastic or paper disposable ones.
- Invest in reusable Tupperware (or simply use the ones that come when you inevitably order to-go from Pei Wei…)
- Keep a reusable bottle at your desk and in your bag at all times so you’re not relying on plastic ones when you’re thirsty.
- Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re high maintenance or crazy for doing this.
- Bring your coffee from home so you’re not as tempted.
- Use a diffuser instead of buying that new candle.
- If you’re going to use a Ziploc to bring your carrots in, save it again for tomorrow’s carrots. Even better, use reusable ones!
- Use a reusable wall calendar instead of paper ones for each month that you throw away.
- Go for products that have less packaging, or at least recyclable packaging when possible.