Held annually on November 15, America Recycles Day is a nationally recognized day devoted to the promotion of recycling, the purchasing of recycled products and the reuse of non-disposable items. More specifically, America Recycles Day focuses on the actions of the individual and highlights the changes that any individual can make for the betterment of the environment. At McFadden Engineering, our core values of sustainability and environmental conservation display our conviction for environmental protection and improvement. With more organizations embracing green initiatives and implementing more corporate social responsibility policies, it is becoming clear that being environmentally responsible is more than just a trend. This blog will look at the efforts both organizations and their employees can make to reduce waste in the workplace.
Setting up a water station
The Container Recycling Institute states that each day in the United States, more than 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away. Help lower this number by adding a water station to the workplace. Water stations encourage employees to ditch their single-use plastic water bottles and incentivize the use of reusable thermoses and bottles. Water stations not only cut back on waste but save both the employee and organization money on water expenses.
Recycling Ink Cartridges
According to the Energy Collective Group, more than one million ink cartridges are thrown away in the U.S. per day. Additionally, the Energy Collective Group adds that it takes 1,000 years for a print cartridge to fully decompose in a landfill site. These cartridges contain volatile organic compounds and heavy metals that pollute the soil and water upon their arrival at landfills. An easy way to help prevent this pollution is by dropping off your used cartridges at your local office supply store. Another helpful tip is to check the Earth911 website, which provides a comprehensive list of recycling locations in your area.
Switch to a coffee maker
While most offices have coffee makers, often, the makers rely on plastic pods to brew the coffee. Switching to a bean-to-cup or reusable filter machine not only provides a fresher and more authentic taste but greatly reduces plastic waste as well. However, if pod machines are the overwhelming popular choice amongst employees, be sure to look for recyclable pod brands. These recyclable pods can be found in both plastic and aluminum, meaning that you can keep the familiarity and convenience of pods without sacrificing your environmental responsibility.
What can employees do?
Now that we’ve examined ways organizations can promote recycling and sustainability in the office, let’s look at some ways individual employees can help promote recycling and environmental conservation in the workplace.
Bringing in a wasteless lunch
In a report published by Design Life-Cycle regarding single-use plastic bags, the organization reports that the average U.S. family uses 500 of these bags a year. These bags are not biodegradable and have been consistently linked to creating a hazardous environment for both land and aquatic life. While it is important to encourage the proper disposal of these bags, packing a lunch in reusable containers is much more conservation-friendly. The single-use nature of plastic bags promotes more litter with lunch, but this can be completely avoided by packing your meal in a multi-use container. By reusing containers, individuals can greatly reduce their amount of daily waste.
Properly recycle electronics
As workplace technology continues to improve, knowing what to do with unwanted or out-of-date electronics has become a modern problem for many employees. The official term for this kind of material is e-waste and includes items like cell phones, computers, batteries, CDs and other electronics that come to mind. As previously mentioned, the website Earth911 offers a list of locations in your area designated for specific types of recycling, including e-waste. The World Counts estimates that e-waste comprises 70% of our overall toxic waste with only 12.5% of e-waste being recycled. The importance of properly recycling e-waste cannot be understated, even at the individual level.
Properly dispose of your emails
Shockingly enough, emails are responsible for a large amount of CO2 emissions. Email and data centers that store your virtual files use a lot of energy and electricity to run. In fact, Science Focus magazine states that emails are responsible for as much CO2 globally as seven million extra cars. Cleaning out your inbox from old emails and digital files can save space and energy on both your computer and email/data centers.
The purpose of America Recycles Day is to encourage and urge people to reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle in every aspect of their life. This includes keeping an environmental preservation mindset not just at home, but in the workplace as well. While companies can encourage their employees to do everything they can to reduce waste, the power to make change lies with the individual. America Recycles Day highlights the actions of the individual and the changes that they can make for the betterment of the environment. There are many ways for both companies and their employees to promote sustainability, from properly recycling e-waste to cleaning out your email inbox.
At McFadden Engineering, we pride ourselves on staying environmentally vigilant however we can. From offering environmentally sound solutions for unique engineering needs, to celebrating America Recycles Day, we are proud to be at the forefront of environmental conservation.
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