Do you Rethink WASTE at Work?

Any business can benefit from taking stock of their waste stream and reviewing their disposal system. Reducing or eliminating waste can often save you time and money in the long run. Here are some tips to either kick start your program at work or re-evaluate your needs.

W:  What’s Your Waste?

The first step to reducing waste is taking stock of what, and roughly how much, you make in the first place. Try the waste week challenge – take one week to visually inspect your recycling and garbage each day.  Keep track of how much you produce – especially if garbage and recycling are emptied throughout the day.  A simple tally sheet posted where you will be reminded to check it works fine.  After one week you will have a baseline to work from, which can also serve as a motivator for setting new goals.  Check out the tools on this Waste Audit website for tailor made worksheets if you really want to get into it.

A:  Ask For Input

Once you know what your waste is, how much you have, and where it’s going, you can start brainstorming.  Enlist enthusiastic staff to pitch their ideas and help you work towards your new goals.  Are there reusable options to replace ongoing disposables?  The upfront cost will be offset over the long run in disposal costs, and customers will appreciate that you are making steps towards more eco-friendly options.  Are you paying to get rid of an item regularly that another business might potentially be able to use?  Try checking out Bend Craigslist’s free section to post unwanted items – you would be surprised by what people will repurpose. Are recyclables winding up in the trash?  Most people want to do the right thing but if it’s unclear what goes where, it usually goes in the trash. Download signs and bin labels to clearly identify what can go where.

S:  Share Resources

If you or your staff are unclear about ways your business might be able to reduce waste, you can schedule a free Rethink Waste community presentation for staff training.  This can be a helpful way to get everyone on the same page and working towards the same goal.  Among other things it details what can and cannot be recycled, the ins and outs of hosting a zero waste event, and other tips to reduce waste. Green Drinks is another opportunity to share ideas and insights from other local businesses. It’s a fun way to network, learn about other businesses and their sustainability efforts, and share a drink or two with like-minded community members. Green Drinks occurs on the last Thursday of every month at a different host business – visit The Environmental Center for details.

T:  Think Outside the Bin

There are many items that can be recycled locally that are not accepted in the commingle bin.  Examples include wine corks, paint, scrap metal, oil, wood, electronics and more.   Find a Recycler or Reuser to get your items to the right place.

E:  Engage Your Customers

Are you already doing a lot to reduce your waste?  Be sure to let your customers, clients and business partners know!  People will often choose to support companies that align with their values, and increasingly those values include living lighter on the planet to conserve resources for future generations.  They might even have new ideas for your business, so don’t be afraid to ask! Use social media, newsletters, and advertising to let people know about your efforts.

Remember, waste is a sign of inefficiency. In the natural world, waste doesn’t even exist and everything is used. For businesses, reducing waste can save money, increase productivity and allow your organization to become more efficient with your resources, materials, time as well as human resources. Businesses around the world are starting to realize the impacts that waste has on their bottom line. Be one of them!


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