This is the year of living plastic free, so there’s never been a better time to be eco-friendly at work. For most of us, going green at the office can seem intimidating. But it’s not as hard as you think, according to Claire Dunivan and Jade Beach of ezCater. Claire and Jade are big proponents of sustainable living and help run our ezGreen committees at ezCater’s Boston and Denver offices. In honor of Earth Day, we asked Claire and Jade to share some eco-friendly tips to help offices go green.
1. Use Real Plates
You could rip open a package of paper plates, but why not use real plates? Reusable plates are a thumbs-up for the environment. If your company can’t afford new dinnerware, ask around. Someone in your office may have unwanted plates and bowls sitting in a donation pile. Plus, the next time your office orders catering, those sturdy ceramic plates aren’t going to fold under the bubbling three-meat, three-cheese lasagnas. (Looking for more tips on stocking your office pantry? Read our checklist.)
2. Go with Metal Flatware
Once your office switches to using real plates, set your colleagues free from the mountain of disposable cutlery. While plastic utensils are convenient and inexpensive, single-use plastics are at the heart of the plastic pollution problem. What’s more, plastic utensils have a lower chance of being recyclable. So the next time your office orders catering, ask the restaurant to leave out plastic cutlery. Using real flatware and plates at work is a great way to divert waste, says Jade Beach, a certified Master Recycler who leads ezCater’s recycling efforts in Denver.
3. Hello, Water Machines; Goodbye, Plastic Water Bottles
If your office can afford it, invest in an eco-friendly water machine to cut down on bottled water—the one-liters and the giant jugs. Some water machines, such as the Bevi, cut down on plastic waste and the need for trucking bottled beverages. Alternatively, you can buy a set of drinking glasses for your office—or encourage people to use personal mugs or non-plastic bottles when they’re on the go. (If you’re curious about your company’s plastic consumption, use this calculator to track waste and make plans to reduce it.)
4. Keep Recycling Bins at Work
This may seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re going green at your office, start with the basics. Pair a recycling bin with each trash can to make recycling easy. But don’t stop there. Educate your office on best practices since rules differ in every municipality and office building, says Claire Dunivan. Adding too many non-recyclable items—like greasy pizza boxes and soiled paper plates—to a little blue bin will contaminate a batch of recycling and do more harm than good. To make eco-friendly lessons fun for your office, Claire suggests throwing a themed mixer.
5. Compost Together
Starting a composting program at work can seem tricky. For your eco-friendly program to succeed, you need the cooperation of your office and a place for your compost to go. But with a few resources on hand, you can help reduce the garbage sent to landfills. Learn more about composting and going green at your office from the environmental nonprofit Sustainable America and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) directory on sustainable food management.
6. Take Home Leftovers
Got leftover catering? Encourage colleagues to take home leftovers for dinner. Better yet, order the right portions for your catered events. Remember to wash and recycle those disposable foil pans and plastic containers, Claire says. Then feel good about going green at your office.
7. Find Sustainable Restaurants That Cater
Plenty of restaurants, like Boston’s Mei Mei, cater delicious food while championing eco-friendly practices such as sourcing local, seasonal, and sustainably raised ingredients. Meanwhile, other restaurants, like Asian Box, go green by using compostable packaging. At ezCater, we have lots of eco-friendly restaurants that cater. Explore your region for greener choices here.
If you want to make a difference this Earth Day, try our eco-friendly tips to reduce the environmental footprint of your office. Going green can feel so good that you might just want to do it year round.
Find an eco-friendly restaurant to cater your next office meal.