Working Against Waste
Updated: Jan 30, 2019
After easing into changes at home, my next step was changes in the workplace. Although you may not be able to make the big changes that you can make at home, there are still many easy steps you can take. Here is a list of FREE ways I have reduced my waste at work! Paper towels for bathroom and cleanup These are the only option at work in the bathroom…SO I BROUGHT MY OWN HAND TOWEL. Judge me, it’s fine. I would probably judge myself too if I wasn’t so entertained. Mind-blowing bathroom procedures: use the bathroom, wash hands, walk to my desk with wet hands, use my own soft and wonderful towel (rather than those rough and dry garbage towels). This is probably something you already have at home, so it’s such an easy switch!! The hardest part of this transition is being mindful in the bathroom, because it’s easy to just roll through the motions and get a paper towel out of habit, but my hands are definitely less dry than previous winters. Utensils for lunch and my many, many snacks Instead of using disposable utensils, I frequently bring my bamboo utensil pouch. This pouch is also easy to use during travel! The utensils are dishwasher safe, although I just do a quick hand wash when I get home each day. Although recently, I have just been wrapping silverware in a cloth napkin like when I was a restaurant hostess in high school. This is easy to pop into my lunch bag as well! Plus, we all know I could always use an extra napkin. Snack packages when I don’t pack enough food I started over packing snacks and meals, because all of the available prepared snacks at work are in single use plastic containers. Now, I always have plenty and never run out of food. This leaves no room for making exceptions, because I am always over prepared. I just pack all of my food in mason jars and glass containers that I've been using at home for years. Occasional disposable cup of tea Everyday I bring my travel mug to work so I do not have to get a disposable. I have a couple, so if one is in the dishwasher, I never have an excuse. This is something I have practiced for a while, but in the past when I would forget, I would get a disposable. Now, just incase I forget a travel mug, I keep 2 regular mugs at my desk (and dish soap), just incase I forget a reusable. As for water, I bring my Klean Kanteen everywhere, which I have done for years. Never lets me down.
Kleenex for runny noses Call me old fashioned/disgusting, but I started using a handkerchief. My grandma actually had a drawer full of old hankies that she hasn't used in years, so she was excited to be able to share. I keep 2 in my work backpack. At home, I use makeshift Kleenex, thanks to my husband’s old undershirts, which are so soft on my nose. I have been fighting a cold, and normally when that happens, my nose becomes so dry and sore. Not the case with these lovely, reusable, cotton nose miracles. Napkins at meals and for spills (which happen a lot when you’re me) This is where the cloth napkin comes in handy (the one my silverware is wrapped in). For me, spills happen on a daily basis, sometimes multiple times a day. On days like this, my hand towel is the perfect backup (at least when it hasn’t spilled on my clothing, because that is a pretty common occurrence). Normally, I use the same hand towel for a work week, but in this instance, I replace it the following day. Notepads for my list obsession Making lists is a hobby of mine, thanks Mom. Crossing off those to-do’s is so exciting. My mom has been known to add things she’s already done to her lists, just so she can cross them off. I learned from the best. Most of the time, I use the notes app on my phone. I love that you can share notes with other people, so my favorite roommate and I can have a joint grocery list. SHOUTOUT TO THE WORLD’S BEST HUSBAND! Sometimes people cannot let go of the written lists and reminders, and I get the hype. Previously, I used sticky notes or a notepad. Now, I’ve changed the game. At most workplaces, there is a surplus of unnecessary paper. Instead of recycling the one-sided papers, I cut them into the perfect list-sized sheets and stack them in my desk! I will not be swayed by free sticky notes, HARD PASS.
My workplace has a great recycling program that accepts writing utensils, but still it's important to use as little as possible (none technically, to really achieve ZERO waste). Using a plain wooden pencil is the least waste, because you can compost the shavings and whatever pencil is leftover. Taking as many notes virtually as possible is ideal, so I've cut back wherever possible.
What other types of trash do you produce at work? Let’s find some options to help reduce waste!