Keeping the breakroom clean can be a bit of a chore. Cleanliness is not exactly a priority for the average disgruntled office worker, who has to shuffle about between a desk of papers, a computer screen and the occasional worthless hours-long meeting every day. This is hardly the kind of arrangement that would have you thinking about being a bit less wasteful for the benefit of the environment. As long as our trash gets tossed into the garbage, we think, our responsibility to the earth has been discharged. At least the workplace doesn’t resemble a pigsty, right?
This is the extent of conventional workplace breakroom thinking. We bring disposable plastic bottles and aluminium cans filled with water or some other beverage, eat our meals that are wrapped in plastic or paper, sip coffee out of Styrofoam cups, and chat with reusable coffee cup our officemates while browsing through newspapers and magazines that also end up in the trash. All of that garbage can be a real eyesore, and even as it gets thrown into the overflowing bin, one can’t help but wonder if there has to be a better way to go about it.
Well, there is. In fact, there are several policies that an office can adopt to vastly reduce the amount of waste generated inside a breakroom, and for the waste that does get produced, provide for a more efficient method of getting rid of it.
A single reusable mug saves on at least a year’s worth of disposable coffee cups, and washing it doesn’t waste a lot of water or soap. Similarly, a reusable drink bottle does away with all the disposable drink bottles that one ends up buying for one’s favoured beverage, and it encourages one to drink more water, which is the best thing to be drinking overall, anyway. For those drinks that can’t help but come in disposable containers, see if you can buy much larger sizes to refill your containers with at home, or select those that come in glass instead of plastic.
Recycling is the watchword for most of the trash that a breakroom produces nowadays. Newspapers, magazines and other paper headed for the garbage can may instead be sent to a recycle bin for reprocessing into recycled paper goods. Plastic items can also be the subject of recycling, as can aluminium. In this way, they are rotated back into circulation instead of left to fester somewhere forever.
Lastly, instead of using paper towels and napkins to wipe up dirt and spills, consider cloth napkins and washcloths, which can be washed easily.
These suggestions for a cleaner, greener breakroom are useless, of course, if nobody observes them. While an initial information campaign helps create awareness, what you really need afterwards is recall. No device helps people to remember good habits as cheaply and efficiently as a green breakroom sign. People are very prone to subtle suggestions, which are the essence of breakroom signs. Sooner or later, people will start to take note, and eventually begin recycling and reusing of their own volition. All it takes is a few signs to transform a waste-producing breakroom into an eco-friendly relaxation space.