9 Easy Ways to Remove Plastic from The Workplace
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It’s Plastic Free July®, a movement designed to help people be part of solving our global plastic pollution problem. To help you be part of the solution we’ve compiled this list of 9 easy ways to remove plastic from your workplace.
But before we dive in, we’ve heard lots of stories of people throwing away perfectly useable plastic items and replacing them with items made from environmentally friendly materials, items such as lunch boxes and water bottles.
Please don’t do this.
If you have a perfectly useable plastic item KEEP using it until it’s finished its job. There’s nothing worse than wasting a resource.
Now, onto the list…
Did you know that single-use paper cups aren’t actually recyclable?
They are lined with a thin layer of plastic which recycling plants can’t separate.
A great alternative is to give every member of staff their own ceramic mug. You can even have their name printed on them so that everyone knows whose is whose.
Bottled water companies don’t produce water, they produce plastic bottles.
The average bottle of water is 300 times more expensive than tap water and a recent report found that almost half of all bottled water is actually from the tap.
Stock the cupboards with plenty of glasses to help your office ditch the plastic water bottles. And if you have water connoisseurs in your team why not get some water filter jugs for the kitchen fridge, or install a water cooler.
Single use plastic or even wooden cutlery may limit on the washing up but they have a big impact on the environment.
Switch your office’s cutlery to stainless steel and if you’re worried about the washing up you can set a rota so everyone chips in.
The pen is an office staple, but it’s a massive source of plastic pollution. It’s estimated that 1.6 billion pens are thrown away every year in the USA alone.
But they don’t have to be the plastic biros that we’re all so used to. Why not go old school and switch your office to the trusty pencil. Totally biodegradable and if it breaks in half you now have two.
Failing that there are refillable fountain pens, and pens where the outer containers are made from bamboo or paper meaning they can be recycled/composted when the ink tube is removed.
Hand Washing Soap
A super simple plastic swap is replacing plastic soap pump bottles or dispensers with soap-filled plastic bags for a solid soap bar. You can either get them in 100% recyclable cardboard boxes or packaging free #zerowaste.
You may be surprised to hear that most teabags contain between 15-25% plastic. Manufacturers use it to seal the bags and make them hold their shape. The plastic in teabags is bad for two key reasons.
1. It’s estimated that 167 million tea bags are binned or composted every day in the UK. This means that our passion for tea is a huge contributor to plastic pollution.
2. When added to boiling water teabags release microplastics that we then ingest.
A great alternative is loose leaf tea or there are several manufacturers that now offer plastic-free tea bags, such as Clipper. This article by Green Compostables gives lots of other alternatives to plastic-free tea bags. Note that a lot of them say they are bio-degradable but only when treated in industrial composting facilities, which most people’s tea bags will never get to. So, if it was down to us we wouldn’t be buying those.
Offices get through a lot of cleaning fluids which means they use a lot of plastic bottles. But there are some fantastic alternatives.
We love fill, a company that manufacturers closed-loop, vegan, biodegradable refill cleaning fluids, which can be bought either as retail or wholesale.
Disposable dish cloths and sponges are generally made from plastic which means that not only do they release micro plastics into our water when used, they’re also a cause of plastic pollution when they’re thrown away.
Swapping scrubbing sponges for coir, coconut fibre scrubbing brushes and dish cloths for cotton, machine washable dish cloths are simple and easy ways to remove these plastics from your workplace.
Lastly, do a waste audit.
It’s not the cleanest of tasks but going through the bins and working out what your office throws away can give you a great insight into other ways that your workplace can reduce its plastic usage and waste overall.
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And if you have other swap suggestions to help businesses remove plastic from their workplace let us know.
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