Tips To Reduce Plastic Waste in the Workplace

With scientists estimating that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans, there’s never been a better time to take the pledge to have a Plastic Free July. The pandemic has no doubt made it harder to avoid the use of single-use plastics, with coffee shops banning reusable coffee cups in an effort to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, BUT there are still ways we can help.

Your Plastic Free pledge can be anything from 1 day to 1 full month (or forever if you’re up to it!) and with many returning to the office, getting the team together for your pledge is a great way to invite better planet saving initiatives into the workplace.

Tip 1: Focus on the Big Four: Plastic bags, water bottles, straws & coffee cups

Here in the UK, it’s estimated that we use 13 billion plastic carrier bags per year and we’d hate to admit it, but the majority of these are probably only used once (or collected under the kitchen sink). Plastic bags take around 1000 years to decompose in landfill – so reducing the use of them is a top priority! There are a few alternatives to plastic bags that you could introduce to the workplace for your team to use; paper bags, jute bags, basket bags and cotton tote bags. Treat your staff to some branded tote bags to encourage a more reusable and environmentally friendly shopping trip whilst also adding to your marketing efforts!

It’s become a bit of an illusion that all bottled water is better than tap water, they’re generally pretty similar in terms of safety and taste and present a huge problem in terms of plastic waste. Cut down on the single-use plastic water bottles by introducing reusable glass cups to your office or reusable bottles (branded of course).

Next up, plastic straws, which take up to around 200 years to decompose. Virtually every hospitality venue have eliminated the use of plastic straws after the government introduced a plastic straw ban in 2019 – don’t go against the tide and source some reusable straws for your team.

Last of the Big Four is coffee cups. As a country, with a slight addiction to tea and coffee, we get through around 2.5 billion paper coffee cups a year which are almost certainly only used once. This has been exacerbated by the pandemic, where our reusable coffee cups have been rejected by chains in an effort to reduce the spread of germs. As part of your Plastic Free July pledge, try to encourage your team to cut down on the single-use cups by having that extra afternoon coffee in the office instead.

Tip 2: Audit your office kitchen

After looking at reducing the Big Four, turn your attention to your office kitchen. Are there any other single-use items you can target? There are probably more than you realise!

Food packaging, single-use cutlery, bin bags, bowls and cups to name a few. By auditing your workspace’s kitchen, you can identify these items and work on finding replacements to keep to your Plastic Free pledge. There are many earth friendly alternatives to choose from – check out Plastic Free July’s website for a comprehensive list! Efforts to do so could also have a wider impact on your colleagues, and encourage them to take these more environmentally friendly habits home with them.

Tip 3: DIY your own plastic free alternatives

If you’re looking for a team building exercise then why not combine this with your efforts to reduce single-use plastic?

Create your very own DIY workshop on how to create wax wraps as a great alternative to using cling film, and make it a team building activity at the same time. Rumour has it they also help keep your food fresher for longer than it’s plastic counterpart, so it may help prevent any smelly office fridges too. Other options include; making your own bars of soap, deodorant and face masks, to try and help counteract the environmental impact caused by using single-use face masks during the pandemic.

Tip 4: Reach out to non-profits who are fighting to reduce plastic pollution

Invite not-for-profit organisations to share their stories to your workplace – they have a wealth of knowledge on the subject of plastic pollution and have a purpose to inspire others to reduce their use of it. Organisations such as Less Plastic, Plastic Oceans UK and Marine Conservation Society are just a few examples of activists who have led the fight against our ‘throwaway’ mindset.

Join the Plastic Free July Pledge! –

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