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How To Green Up Your Workplace...

By Jill Velez, January 28, 2009  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Jill Velez
...Save Money, Keep Stuff Out Of The Landfill, and Have Fun Doing It My friends are always asking me for tips on how to green up their workplaces - but they need stuff that won't freak out their coworkers (I guess I shouldn't tell them to get rid of all the trash cans just yet). I thought I'd share some ideas that are really simple and have worked for us here in our Austin office.  And, conveniently enough, some of these will even save your company some money. Last year we realized how much waste we were producing by stocking all the meeting rooms with bottled water, so we invested in a water service instead.  We now have large five-gallon water dispensers available. We saved a lot of plastic, and money!  It was also a good way to get our team members used to bringing their own glasses or reusable water bottles to work.  Of course, we offer compostable waxed paper cups if they forget...along with a convenient green compost bin in each conference room. The copy machine room can be a scary place with lots of wasted paper....we encourage folks to reuse paper (print on both sides) instead of just recycling it after one use. We also make scrap paper books out of the wasted paper as much as we can.  We have a tray/drawer in some of the copiers that is dedicated to paper that is already printed on one side.  I actually can't remember the last time I was in that room, I just bring my laptop everywhere so paper consumption is pretty much a thing of the past for me.  Of course this is not the case for a lot of you who have to print reports...try the two-sided setting for any future print jobs.  Pretty soon you will be gasping at those who print on only one side of the paper AND bring copies for everyone at the meeting (plus two extra just in case!). My two favorite projects right now are the newest ones. My friend Christine discovered that Aveda is accepting plastic bottle caps at some of their locations — they are starting to use them to make new caps and containers for their products.  We put buckets in each break room, where team members are recycling their plastic bottles, to collect these caps. Aveda will release products using this environmentally-friendly new material later this year.  Find out more; it's really cool. Another green team friend, Caroline, did some research to see what she could do with wine corks besides collect them or throw them away.  She found out that we could send corks to a company in Missouri who makes them into floors. What a great alternative to letting them end up in a landfill, no?  So we put another set of buckets out for corks, and to give folks an incentive to bring them in we had a contest over the holidays.  They wrote their names on the corks and we had a raffle of some fabulous green prizes!  (Warning:  If you do this, you will be surprised at how many people collect corks.) Any other good ideas out there?  Just between you and me, my plan is to get everyone having so much fun that they won't notice that their trash cans will soon be missing. Bring on the comments!
Category: Green Action




Elizabeth Mansur says ...
What a great idea recycling corks for floor covers!! How about collecting light bulbs when we are done using them? this might take longer time than corks, but I have seen bulbs in trash cans a lot. Let's brainstorming around bulbs? Love to save our Earth, ~Elizabeth
01/28/2009 4:48:09 PM CST
susan perloff says ...
What can I do with the thousands of brownish plastic pill containers that I amass? I can recycle them -- but can anyone reuse them for anything?
01/29/2009 7:51:22 PM CST
blm says ...
On the subject of the cork recycling, 2 things come to mind. How do you control the possibility of promoting over consumption in order to get more chances to win(i.e. more corks with your name on them). Also, if the corks have ink or marker on them from writing the names, are they still able to be recycled or does this cause contamination in the recycled product, thereby negating the whole idea. I wonder about this at my work where we have a policy of labeling everything that is in the employee refrigerator. In a attempt to save paper, tape or whatever else I could use to label my bottles, I have been writing directly on the bottle or bag, but I am concerned about whether or not it can then be recycled with the ink on it. I also wonder about recycling paper that has pen, marker or highlighter on it. Does anyone have info on this subject and could enlighten me. Thanks.
01/29/2009 9:14:45 PM CST
Caroline says ...
Hi blm, I contacted the company that recycles the corks for floor tiles and asked if it was okay to write on them. They told me that writing on the corks would not cause problems with the way they recyle them. You can always contact them directly if you have more questions. The link is in the original post by Jill. Thanks!
01/30/2009 12:04:36 PM CST
Scott says ...
Work-from-home strategies are about as environmentally beneficial as it gets. I work in software design and with a team distributed throughout the world, and my boss and peer team are all in different cities. My daily tasks consist of talking on the phone and writing emails, so why drive to an office to do that? With a few simple accommodations -- a second phone line and VPN access to your corporate network -- I'm no longer a daily commuter, I no longer use redundant office space and utilities, and I'm a more dedicated employee because this arrangement fits so much better with my family lifestyle (why lose two hours a day in a car if it's flat-out unnecessary?).
01/31/2009 11:15:31 AM CST
blm says ...
Thanks, Caroline.
01/31/2009 4:34:24 PM CST
Terry whalen says ...
I have bags of plastics bottle caps. Do you recycle?
11/08/2014 6:08:21 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@TERRY - The exact options for recycling will differ between stores. Check with our local store directly to see if they accept bottle caps.
11/17/2014 12:41:42 PM CST
Cami says ...
Just to let you know as an update, Aveda has cancelled the Re-Cap program in January 2015 since many counties are now recycling most code numbers. Other places take them, you just have to do a little research. Great article!!!
08/19/2015 3:34:32 PM CDT
Cami says ...
The link for the wine cork recycling place has changed. http://www.yemmhart.com/materials/winecork/wine_cork_recycling.html
08/19/2015 3:39:22 PM CDT