Green Our World, Start in Our Workspace

I’m determined to help to green our earth with small changes that I believe will add up to a not-so-small impact. At Dynamics Online, I am taking steps to make our workspace more eco-friendly.

I am starting with plastic. We have all read the statistics: Americans purchase about 50 million single use water bottles each year, and use about 13 bottles per month. Oh, yes, that water bottle is clean and convenient, and we are supposed drink lots of water.

But 79% of plastic that has ever been made still sits in landfills and the natural environment today, according to The facts nag at us. How can we manage waste in our workspaces, to save money, and sustain our environment?

Think reduce, reuse, recycle (RRR). Most paper, aluminum cans, and glass jars can be recycled. Only some plastic items can be recycled, like jugs with an opening smaller than the body. In our workspaces, here are some steps you can take to be more sustainable. As an example, say you are planning a working office lunch for coworkers and guests.

First, resolve to make the event as sustainable as possible. Plan as your budget allows.

Purchase food safe gloves to wear. They are plastic, but are washable and reusable (W & R) when used with prepared and cooked food. When you wear gloves, your coworkers will see that they are in a clean space.

Offer drinks only in glass bottles or aluminum cans, including water. If you can’t find canned water, get filtered water from a fridge, use pitchers to serve water in plastic cups (W & R), and/or encourage people to bring their own reusable cup.

Purchase good quality plastic plates (W & R) to serve your food. Purchase bamboo cutlery, available online. It is W & R, but even if you put it in the trash, it is bio-degradable. Alternatively, purchase good quality plasticware (W & R).

When ordering from your food source, ask them for condiments and dressing in bowls (W & R), not individual plastic packets.

If you want table coverings, use cloth. Plastic tablecloths are expensive and terrible for the environment. Cloths woven of polyester look great these days, and if they stain, it all comes out in the wash.

At the event, have garbage bags ready:

  • One for true garbage. Stand by the bag, take plates from coworkers, and scrape them off.
  • One for dirty plates, cups and cutlery. Take it all home to wash.
  • One large blue recycling trash bag (not grocery store sized) for recyclables, like glass and aluminum, and paper.
  • Make sure drink cans and bottles are empty and rinsed. If some coworkers bring single use plastic water bottles, and all you can do is put them in the blue bag.

Re-do: Despite your efforts, people will inadvertently put things in the wrong bags. That’s ok, you have your gloves on to fish things out and put them in the right place. You may even have to rinse out that big blue plastic bag, and set it out to dry, and then put the cans and bottles back in it.

Be prepared for leftovers. Refrigerate food as soon as you can, so no one will think it spoiled and then throw it out.

For leftovers, strive to not throw away good food, because it wastes money, contributes to global warming, and there are hungry people in the world. Start to collect plastic containers (W & R) you get from food delivery, restaurants and the grocery store. Wash and dry them. Bring plastic containers to your event so that you can store the food at the office if you think it will be eaten, or to send food home with coworkers. Avoid using plastic wrap and foil, which are costly and cannot be recycled.

If you have a small office fridge, purchase reusable cloth insulated bags with handles that zip at the top, and freezable ice packs. The big blocks work great. Put the blocks in your home freezer, then bring them to work in insulated bags. They should stay well frozen. Put leftover food in there until the end of the day, and then send it home with coworkers. Or, maybe there is another office on your floor equipped with a large fridge, that you can use for the day? In exchange for a plate of cookies?

Finally, put the blue garbage bag in your office building’s recycling, or if there is no recycling, take it to your curbside recycling. Don’t “wishcycle.” Do not put in plastic bowls or trays, clamshell containers, or anything plastic other than jugs, in hopes they will be recycled. They won’t, and the whole bag may be rejected.

Overall, is this extra work? Yes! But you are making small changes for the better! Boast to your coworkers about how sustainable you all are. Count the number of cans and bottles sent to recycling, the plastic plates and pieces of cutlery washed and ready for reuse, and send an email! Looking forward, at your next event, you will already be equipped to RRR!

A great resource for all things recycling is Please contact me with questions and comments at 216-292-4410, ext. 5.