Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Reenergizing the Office Recycling Program

By Elizabeth Leader Smith, April 22, 2013  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Elizabeth Leader Smith

TrashDid you get the memo? Earth Month is about celebrating efforts, sharing best practices and getting inspired. Your office likely already has the bin in the kitchen for cans and glass and near the photocopier and fax machine for recycling paper. That’s a great start…but it’s only the beginning of what’s possible. What does your office do with plastics, food waste and technotrash like CDs, PCs and cell phones?

Our global office in Austin, Texas, has been successfully enhancing our recycling program thanks to the contributions of team members, non-profit organizations and recycling and reuse partners. Because waste reduction is now an integral part of our office culture, recycling doesn’t seem like…well, work. We’re sharing some of our best practices for setting up and beefing up recycling at the office and hope to hear yours too.

Recycle or Repurpose!
We’re recycling or upcycling all sorts of things including: bubble wrap, cardboard, paperboard, paper, #1 – #7 plastics, batteries, bottle caps, yogurt cups and water filters, computers (during the annual electronics drive), cell phones, inkjet cartridges, CDs, gift cards and, of course, food waste for composting. We’re also upcycling pens and pencils through Terracycle’s Writing Instruments Brigade. We encourage our team members to bring in their corks from home too.

Recycle binsTop Tips

Based on our experience, here are eight tips to consider before you kick start or re-green your recycling efforts at the office.

  1. Drive it. Find a few like-minded co-workers to help you brainstorm the best places to start — and to help with educating your workforce and organizing drives.
  2. Start small. If you’re concerned about successfully integrating multiple new programs at once, just start with a few. Once those catch on, add another then another! 
  3. Be patient. Behavior change takes time. Your co-workers generally want to do the right thing.
  4. Measure success. Conduct a waste audit before you start your new efforts so that you can see how you improve over time.
  5. Make it a fit. Choose reuse and recycling programs that make sense for your industry and for your office.
  6. Work together. Work closely with your facilities and office services teams. They’ll be critical for helping to work out viable processes, especially with any janitorial teams.
  7. Tidy up. Keep recycling materials centers clean to encourage continued company participation.
  8. Find a way. Work with leadership to help fund compost and recycling pick-up with private companies if your municipal recycling program doesn’t service businesses.

EarthlingsVisit http://www.earthlingmonth.com/ for more Earth Month inspiration, stories, and events. While you're there we hope you'll show us what makes you an earthling, or just share a tweet or an Instagram photo tagged with #WFMearthling, and you could win a $150 Whole Foods Market gift card.

Did you set up or enhance the recycling program at your workplace? Share your tips in the comment below.




Leone's Building Service says ...
Wow, what a great recycling program. We see a lot of companies trying to integrate something like this, but not usually so thorough. As a <a href="http://www.leonesent.com/about-us.html">Minnesota commercial office cleaning</a> company we are also committed to protecting the earth, and we're hoping to start something like this in our own office!
04/22/2013 3:17:19 PM CDT
kaila says ...
So you guys take household batteries? I have a huge bag of them I've been hoping to find a place for. I know you guys take D batteries and I recently got a bunch of dead ones from my work, i was hoping i could bring both the larger batteries and all the other household batteries at the same time.
04/23/2013 2:43:16 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@KAILA - This is mainly a post about how we recycle at our Global Office. Some of our store locations do offer battery recycling but I would check with the store directly to see if they can accept your batteries. Thanks for checking!
04/24/2013 5:19:48 PM CDT