Green Office – Trimming Our Waste

Green Office is a blog series written by TAS’s Community and Partnership Coordinator that tells the story of how we are reducing our impact by focusing on waste reduction, energy and water use, personal health, and transportation.

Paper products, packaging, and food waste. These items make up the bulk of typical office waste generation. In November – as part of a staff-led initiative to minimize the environmental impacts associated with our office activities – TAS tackled our first month’s challenge: Reduce Office Waste.

We began this task by first acknowledging the ways in which we had already begun to minimize our waste. For instance, scrap paper is already separated for use as notepaper, we use cloth towels in the kitchen, and a wide variety of re-usable containers have been made available for staff to bring when they go for a take-out lunch.

Next, we set out to identify where else we could be making an impact, and established relevant “Action Items” that staff members could pursue. It was fantastic to see so many TAS team members sign up to take the lead on different tasks, despite everyone’s busy schedule. By sharing the work, our office greening truly became a team effort, and established our collective belief that these tasks are worthwhile.

Here are a few examples of tasks that individuals or small groups agreed to be responsible for:

  • Switch to on-line subscriptions and subscribe to e-bills
  • Set up office collection program for items not included in residential garbage pickup (e.g. batteries)
  • Develop a sustainable purchasing guide (e.g. caterers, couriers, suppliers, etc)
  • Review washroom paper product options
  • Set up collection (and re-distribution) program for useable electronics
  • Arrange green bin collection for entire office building
  • Set up a worm compost in the office kitchen to compost food scraps

Although not all of these tasks were possible to complete in a month’s time, many of them were. We will continue to work on the outstanding tasks as time goes on, with various TAS team members taking the lead.

In addition to these office-wide tasks, we also each received a “Personal Pledge” sheet for November. Recognizing that the act of minimizing waste is often a personal choice, these pledge sheets gave staff members the opportunity to personally commit to (or reaffirm) a number of waste-reducing individual habits.

Allow me to extend a thank you and congratulations to my fellow team members at TAS for a great first month of office greening.

Next up is our December challenge: reducing office energy use.