Catalyst for Change: 6 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste at Work

Workplace Catalyst

In this article you will read:

  • Single-Use Plastic: The Invisible Monster
  • A New Paradigm Of Sustainability at Work
  • 6 Ways to Reduce Plastic Waste at Work
  • 3 Plastic Waste – Low Hanging Fruit- Strategies
  • Your Role as an Agent of Change

In today’s world, where environmental consciousness is on the rise, individuals and businesses alike are looking for ways to reduce their ecological footprint. One significant area where this change can be implemented is the workplace. Offices generate a substantial amount of plastic waste, from disposable utensils and packaging to single-use coffee cups. But the good news is that with some thoughtful strategies and a commitment to change, you can foster a sustainable and zero waste workplace culture.

Over the last four years, Inwit‘s community have led the way in Canada’s reusable packaging industry. Our hands-on experience in advocating for the reduction of single-use plastics in the takeout industry has provided us with valuable insights into the potential of behavior change science and climate psychology. We are eager to share this transformative knowledge with you. In this article, we will delve into practical tips and solutions to help you create a more environmentally friendly and sustainable office by minimizing plastic waste. These initiatives not only contribute to a healthier planet but can also yield cost savings and boost employee morale.

Image: Sustainability champions successfully reduce single-use plastic!

Single-Use Plastic: The Invisible Monster

We are very disconnected from our waste. It’s a complex problem that many of us believe can be solved through recycling. However, even with the best intentions and systems in place, we only manage to recycle 11% of the plastic we consume.

In Canada, for example, the takeout industry is generating over one billion single-use takeout containers annually. This wastes finite resources, contaminates our recycling system, endangers our ecosystems and impacts our health – all in the name of convenience.

A New Paradigm Of Sustainability At Work

Plastic production is set to grow by 30% in the next five years, intensifying the plastic waste crisis and exacerbating the climate emergency. However, there’s a crucial perspective to consider. While packaging accounts for just 7% of a product’s carbon footprint, it serves as a pivotal entry point for fostering behavioral change (you can explore our article on behavior change here). In essence, addressing packaging, particularly single-use plastics, acts as a catalyst for broader action. When we recognize how easily we can reduce waste, it prompts a shift in our mindset: what other aspects of our lives can transition to circular or zero-waste practices? By eliminating single-use plastics, we unlock the door to a new realm—the new paradigm of sustainability!

Picture this: an office space where employees are highly engaged, actively contribute innovative solutions to existing challenges, feel a profound sense of belonging, wholeheartedly embrace a zero-waste culture, and effortlessly incorporate eco-friendly practices into their daily routines. This vision perfectly aligns with the goals of progressive companies committed to transition their current operations to a low carbon future!

As you actively seek solutions to minimize single-use plastics in your workplace, you exhibit qualities of an innovative leader, you hold the extraordinary power to turn this vision into tangible reality!

Image: Takeout via Inwit, we are transitioning the takeout industry to zero waste, using reusable containers.

6 Ways To Inspire Change and Build A Zero Waste Culture at Work

1. Create a movement, Identify Allies:

Efforts to reduce plastic waste in the workplace are undoubtedly ambitious. When we embarked on the journey of Inwit, a waste-free office meals initiative, we quickly realized that the challenge lay not in the material itself, but in the way we’ve grown accustomed to using it. The love for convenience is hard to relinquish, and we also discovered that addressing this issue could sometimes encounter resistance to change.

Drawing from our experience, we offer a valuable piece of advice: opt for an approach that fosters positivity and enthusiasm rather than attempting to convince individuals to change their ways. Instead, seek out allies within your workplace, identify colleagues who share a passion for reducing plastic waste, and invite them to collaborate. This collaborative effort will help you generate the momentum needed to drive a workplace-wide movement. For additional insights on finding like-minded allies at work, you can explore our article on Building Green Teams at Work .

2. Start a Plastic Audit

Before implementing any changes, it’s essential to understand the current state of plastic use in your office. Conduct a plastic audit to identify areas where plastic is most commonly used and wasted. This audit can help you pinpoint specific targets for reduction and track your progress over time. Don’t forget to set up some goals or objectives.

3. Encourage the Use of Reusable Products

One of the most effective ways to reduce plastic waste at the office is to encourage the use of reusable products. Here are some ideas:

  • Reusable Water Bottles: Provide employees with reusable water bottles and encourage them to fill up from water dispensers or taps, reducing the need for single-use plastic bottles.
  • Coffee Mugs and Travel Cups: Encourage employees to bring their own coffee mugs or travel cups. Some offices even offer incentives like discounts at the office coffee shop for using reusable cups.
  • Utensils and Food Containers: Replace disposable utensils and food containers with reusable alternatives made from materials like stainless steel or glass. Consider setting up a communal kitchen space with these items.

4.Say Bye To Single-Use Plastics, Shift To Reusables.

Identify and eliminate single-use plastics in the office wherever possible. Take a close look at the products and supplies your office purchases. Whenever possible, choose items with reusable packaging or opt for bulk purchases to reduce excess packaging. This includes items like:

  • Plastic Cutlery: Replace plastic forks, knives, and spoons with metal or bamboo alternatives. If necessary, provide washable utensils for employees.
  • Plastic Cups and Plates: Use paper or compostable alternatives for office events and gatherings.
  • Plastic Straws: Consider switching to paper straws or eliminating straws altogether.
  • Cleaning Products: Consider switching to eco-friendly cleaning products and supplies that use less plastic in their packaging. Additionally, explore the possibility of using refillable containers to reduce plastic waste from cleaning agents.

5. Provide Education and Awareness

Raise awareness among employees about the importance of reducing plastic waste at work. Offer educational materials, Lunch & Learns, or presentations to inform them about the environmental impact of plastics and the benefits of sustainable practices. Promote alternatives.

6. Partner with Eco-Friendly Suppliers

If your office relies on external vendors or suppliers, seek partnerships with those who prioritize sustainability and offer plastic-free or reusable options. This collaboration can extend the reach of your efforts to reduce plastic waste. At Inwit, we introduced the first offer waste-free office lunch option in Toronto, however, if you leave in another city, search online “plastic-free office catering/meals/ in [city]” to find local suppliers, it’s not the norm yet, but supporting local entrepreneurs will enable us to create more sustainable solutions.

6. Measure and Celebrate Progress

Continuously monitor and assess your office’s advancement in reducing plastic waste, or better said: Advancing in fostering a zero waste culture. Foster a culture of celebration within your team to sustain motivation and engagement. Here’s a valuable tip: as we embarked on the journey of transitioning the takeout industry to zero waste at Inwit, we encountered one of the most formidable challenges – the pursuit of perfection. Initially, it may be challenging to commemorate what might seem like “small” victories, but bear in mind, this is only the commencement of your trailblazing journey. Today, we adhere to a philosophy centred on progress rather than perfection. So go for it, take delight in every piece of waste averted, honour every individual contributing, and recognize every endeavor made!

You and your team are making a difference!

Photo by Katerina Holmes

3 Plastic Waste – Low Hanging Fruit- Strategies

Creating Green Gatherings: Sustainable Events

Sustainable events are not just a trend – they are a powerful way to showcase your company’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. Imagine orchestrating events that minimize plastic waste, prioritize eco-friendly decor, and embrace responsible catering practices. Your efforts not only enhance your organization’s reputation but inspire others to follow suit. Read our blog post on sustainable event planning and zero-waste corporate catering here.

Re-think the shared spaces at work: Sustainable Workspace

Today’s workforce, particularly millennials and zillennials, seeks out employers who prioritize sustainability and offer a work-life balance. By championing green initiatives, you elevate your company’s appeal and position it as a top choice for talented individuals who share your values. A sustainable workspace needs to be designed with your colleagues at heart: how can they prevent waste during lunchtime? For tea/ coffee? Can they bring back these practices at home? Or bring them into the office from home? 

Partnering for Change: The Role of Sustainable Vendors

To make a real impact, it’s crucial to collaborate with partners who share your vision. Seek out vendors and suppliers who prioritize sustainability, whether it’s in their sourcing practices, packaging materials, or transportation methods. By forging partnerships with like-minded organizations, you amplify your influence and contribute to a broader movement toward a greener future. Check out this useful list of sustainable business champions!

Photo by Gary Barnes

Embrace Your Role as a Agent of Change

In your multifaceted role, you hold the potential to be a catalyst for meaningful change. Every decision you make as a sustainability champion, every event you coordinate, and every meal you order can contribute to reducing plastic waste in the office. As a leading force in your organization, you have the power to inspire and influence your colleagues, your team, and even your superiors.

In closing, we salute your dedication to sustainability and your unwavering commitment to reducing plastic waste as a catalyst for change. By harnessing your influence, you can shape a future where eco-conscious practices are woven into the fabric of your organization’s identity. Together, let’s pave the way for a greener, more sustainable workplace that resonates with generations to come.

Have you heard about Inwit?

We are revolutionizing the way companies approach lunch breaks with our innovative waste-free office meals service. We’ve partnered up with the best restaurants in town and we deliver their mouthwatering dishes in reusable packaging in a carbon-free way. By delivering in a carbon-neutral manner, we prioritize both your taste buds and the environment. Learn more about us here

Have you heard about Inwit?

We are revolutionizing the way companies approach lunch breaks with our innovative waste-free office meals service. We’ve partnered up with the best restaurants in town and we deliver their mouthwatering dishes in reusable packaging in a carbon-free way. By delivering in a carbon-neutral manner, we prioritize both your taste buds and the environment. Learn more about us here

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