Think about this. 40% of Indian population constitutes office goers, that is 540 million individuals. Individuals who are capable to learn and implement these simple and crucial changes that can reduce the waste management burden by 40%. There’s been a lot to learn from the year 2020 and this is one of the important learnings. Here are five simple ways you can make your office sustainable:
1. Deploy three types of dustbins
Waste segregation is extremely essential, in absence of which everything you dump will end up in landfill or ocean. It’s simple. There need to be three types of dustbins, marked and color-coded as follows:
- E-waste Bin (Grey color-coded): For used batteries, chargers, chords, or anything electronic. It’s advisable to stock all batteries together as they are hazardous waste and need to be handled carefully.
- Dry-waste Bin (Blue color-coded): This includes all sorts of paper, plastic, cardboard, stapler pins, etc. This is the bin that has the potential to be recycled completely.
- Wet-waste Bin (Brown color-coded): For food-leftovers and compostable packaging and tableware. This waste will be sent to composting facilities.
2. Sustainable pantry alternatives
- Instead of using paper plates and cups that have PLA lining inside, switch to plant-made tableware and cutlery like bagasse and areca. These are compostable and can be discarded to wet waste after use.
- Replace plastic stirrer with wooden ones. Such stirrers are currently being made using bamboo too, which is more sustainable.
- A mandatory wet-waste dustbin for the cafeteria or dining space will ensure all food-leftovers go there.
- In the cafeteria, put up a board displaying the number of food-leftovers from last week (in kgs). This can be a subtle nudge for all to waste less.
3. Sustainable stationery alternatives
- Replace plastic pens with metal ones.
- Online record-keeping rather than paper memos
- Paper tapes instead of plastic ones
- Promote the use of reusable water bottles and coffee mugs.
4. Sustainable washroom alternatives
- Reusable hand-wash bottles made of steel rather than single-use plastic dispensers.
- Organic soaps to reduce the chemicals getting into the water-stream.
- Awareness and access to zero-waste period alternatives such as cloth-pads and menstrual cups.
5. Sustainable office-party alternatives
- Use reusable decorations like birthday banners, fabric decorations, and light-show.
- Avoid using balloons and other plastic made decorations.
- Order dessert and sweets from an outlet that provides plastic-free packaging.
Additional note related to COVID-19 safety: Instead of handing out sanitizer sachets that are made of plastic, use reusable sanitizer bottles.
Here are some of the links where you may order the zero-waste alternatives:
For biodegradable tableware and cutlery: Agropak
For chemical-free soaps: Dhatva
For menstrual cups: Boondh
For plastic-free decorations: Green Utsav
Once a system is adopted, it’s easier to transition and become environmentally conscious. Offices are ideal spaces to set a system that impacts the lifestyle of many people at once. The goal of zero waste is to move to a circular economy where we write trash out of existence. Instead of discarding resources, we create a system where all resources can be resumed fully back into the system. Just start and see for yourself. Let the conversations begin.