In highly urbanized areas, waste management is a huge problem. As the population converges into the central business districts, the limits of the sewer and drainage systems are tested. If there are obstructions in the passageways, the drains are clogged. Even landfills are already full to the brink.
There is no better recourse than to reduce the waste produced. For some areas, the goal is to actually reach zero waste. That sounds impossible given our fast-paced lifestyle, with canned goods and drinks and microwaveable plastic. However, there are recycling centers, junk shops and places that buy scrap cars to convert the metal, which exemplifies the principle of recycling and reusing.
At the office, the campaign to have zero waste starts with a change of thinking, from believing that it’s possible and that the changes are worth it.
Rallying the Troops
Change has to start with you and you have to set a good example. The key for the individual is to shift from disposable to reusable. From paper bags, plastic cups, and straws, even styrofoam containers. Make sure that they notice that your trash is reduced, and illustrate how that can benefit them as individuals, the company, the city and the world at large. But before painting the big picture, they must see that the change will not affect them adversely.
Once you have some supporters, you need to be proactive. Organize a committee and propose projects to the management that can raise awareness. Knowledge is the first step, but to be more convincing, the proposal needs to show how the company will benefit from implementing a zero waste policy.
Get the Boss on the Bandwagon
Now it’s time to present that proposal. Ideally, your boss would be aware of global environmental issues like climate change. If he is already sympathetic to the movement, all you need is to make the connection: How do we fit in that big picture? What can our small office contribute?
The relation of waste reduction to the reducing the load of the landfill, hereby reducing the ozone damaging emission, the elimination of using plastic cups, those are simple and small policies that can actually save money for the company. These are the proposals you should start with. Get your foot in the door with policies that will be easy to say “yes” to, with hardly any effort or cost from the company.
Align with the Experts
Now that you have your boss on the green train, the next step is implementing company-wide policies, specifically with procurement. One of the most common waste products in offices is paper. Copies upon copies of documents, memos, notices are disseminated and posted, drafts of proposals and research papers that are disposed or shredded when they are rejected.
Simple policy changes, like disseminating through email and printing only as an option, implementing double-sided prints for copy furnished documents, when these add up, it saves a ton of paper.
Environmental advocates are more than willing to support any company or corporation that seeks guidelines on “greening” their office. They can propose alternatives to plastic office supplies and more efficient filing and storage options and even energy saving measures.
It pays to take action, and we need to convince the rest of our community to follow suit. A zero waste office is environment-friendly, sanitary, and cost-efficient. What manager or company owner would not want that?