Looking at our calendars last week, we couldn’t believe we were about to jump into the second half of the year. Which sparked our memory that July is Plastic Free July, a month-long global campaign which aims to reduce single-use plastic waste by providing resources and ideas led by not-for-profit organisation Plastic Free Foundation.
Plastic pollution and our ‘disposable culture’ has proved to be a serious global issue. Single use plastic either ends up in landfills or polluting our oceans. “We are producing over 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which is for single-use purposes – utilised for just a few moments, but on the planet for at least several hundred years. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year.” – Plastic Oceans.
As a society, over the last few years we’ve put more attention and pressure on large corporations to reduce or eliminate single use plastics. As a result, Evian is going carbon neutral and plastic free and supermarket giants, Coles and Woolworths committed to removing single-use plastic bags.
We place a lot of emphasis on how we can reduce our plastic waste at home or while we’re purchasing items while shopping but we spend around a third of our lives at work. Your office can make a real difference by committing to use less plastic in your workplace so here are 5 changes you can make today to reduce single-use plastic in the workplace.
Ditch the plastic water bottles
Did you know that a million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute? The Guardian also shared some scary statistics in that “fewer than half of the bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling and just 7% of those collected were turned into new bottles. Instead most plastic bottles produced end up in landfill or in the ocean.”
Say no to plastic water and soft drink bottles, and opt for a drink bottle that you can refill throughout the day, and reuse for months or years to come.
You have a few different options when looking into reusable bottles, such as stainless steel and glass. Australian owned brand Frank Green has a selection of reusable bottles, which also gives you access to their exclusive hydration app where you can keep track of your daily water intake.
Swap to coffee, tea and plastic milk alternatives
If you have an office coffee machine, make sure that you’re buying capsules that are plastic free and biodegradable. Most coffee capsules are made from plastic and aluminium which can take up to 500 years to break down in landfill. Give Republica Organic’s biodegradable coffee capsules a try from your local Coles. In comparison to regular capsules, they only take around 730 days to break down in landfill.
For an alternative to plastic milk bottles, try searching for companies that sell milk in glass bottles. Visit your local health food shop and ask if they have any advice on this. At selected Harris Farm stores, you can refill your milk glass bottles in store from their ‘Milk on Tap’ which is provided directly from Australian dairy farms.
Get a reusable cup – or two!
The price of a reusable cup, or forgetting your reusable mug can no longer be an excuse to not have one. Buy two, one to keep at home, and one to keep at the office, so you’ll never forget again! You can now reusable coffee cups almost everywhere, and our best tip is to get a home, office and even car version so you’re never without. You can also check with your local cafe if they’ll accept a regular mug, or just sit down for a coffee. It may just be the best 10 minutes of your day.
BYO reusable cutlery and containers
How often do you buy takeaway for lunch? Do you take notice what packaging your food comes in? Most venues serve single-use plastic as this is the cheapest option for them. Don’t give in! That takeaway container will be in your hands for 15 minutes, but can stay in our oceans forever. Some alternatives are opting to eat in rather than taking away, or bringing your own container and asking that they use that instead.
While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to carry your own reusable cutlery with you. The Ocean Conservatory lists plastic utensils as one of the most dangerous items to sea animals. You can buy reusable utensils for as little as $14 from Flora & Fauna, which comes in a case where you can keep in your handbag at all times.
Try a ‘no single-use plastic’ policy
This one is a little bit out there and you have to make sure that everyone is on board with this, but get your team on board for a ‘no single-use plastic’ policy. This will involve your colleagues making a pledge to reduce single-use plastic in the workplace by implementing $1 fines every time you spot your colleague with single-use plastic. You could go further to collect the fine money at the end of each quarter, donate to an environment charity such as Ocean Conservancy or The Nature Conservancy Australia.
Are you ready to take the challenge for the rest of July to reduce or eliminate your plastic waste in your workplace and beyond? Sign up here to the Plastic Free July campaign and you’ll receive tips and resources each week with plastic-free ideas and alternatives. Join millions of others as we work together to be part of the solution.
Still working from home? Check out how you can stay environmentally conscious while working remotely by checking out our 7 tips that we’ve listed here.