October is a great month for small businesses – the celebration of “Small Business Month” brings attention to all the wonderful things small businesses offer as the backbone of our communities. And, as a small business ourselves, we recognize it’s also a time of transition, no matter what services your business offers! Summer meant staggered breaks for staff that alter the routine of a workplace, never mind the continuing changes regarding health safety protocols likely meant increased stress!
And what’s next? Winter is coming, as they say! In this “calm-before-the-storm”, we find it’s a great time to evaluate and implement some “best practices” for the biz. And, with the 20th Anniversary of “Waste Reduction Week” coming up Oct 18-24, we are inspired to share our favourite ECO workplace best practices – our own list of recommendations to limit waste at your small business – whether you are an employee, or an employer, we all have a role to play!
Go green in the break room:
- ♻️ Have filtered water on hand rather than plastic bottles. Did you know that only 9% of plastic that gets returned even gets recycled? Offering staff and guests filtered water fresh from the fridge or water cooler is a much more sustainable choice.
- ♻️ Say goodbye to coffee pods. We get it! They are a super convenient and customizable offering, but that 60 second convenience goes on to live at the landfill for 150-500 years. An alternative? You can still pod! But opt for refillable pods, they take a little longer to rinse and refill, but gain you big waste reduction points!
Go green at your desk:
- ♻️ Save paper from the recycle bin for notes. Oops! Did you have “page format” set incorrectly, or print the wrong version of a document? PLEASE don’t file it directly to the recycle bin. Trimmed to half sheets or quarter size, this paper is perfect for scratching out brainstorms, replacing post-it notes, and otherwise living out a healthy second life, easily saving both money and waste.
- ♻️ Only buy recycled, sustainable, refillable products. If your workplace is unable to go 100% paperless, we hope you are at least printing on recycled content paper! Let’s do our best to not use virgin paper when there are alternatives… Other best practice product choices are: refillable pens and printer inks. A stapleless stapler is also an essential!
- ♻️ Use pencil crayons instead of highlighters. Fun tip! Highlighters act like a magic wand – drawing attention to the most important of things! But this magic’s dark side is its practical immortality – in a landfill! Using a pencil crayon to highlight has a much smaller footprint and is (often) biodegradable – plus – so many more colour choices!
- ♻️ Use both sides of the paper. Harkening back to days of old – this tip plays a role in the war against waste! Using both sides of the paper in both your notebook and printed material adds up to less!
- ♻️ Email rather than paper memo. Whenever you can, sending an email is the preferred way to communicate… for the recipient as well as the planet. Virtual memos are accessible anywhere!
Go green – for the Team:
- ♻️ Participate in staff challenges. Bike to Work Week, Meatless Monday, Package Free Friday… help each other help one another – and the planet too! Working together towards a common goal in a fun and challenging way is great for team building and encouraging healthy habits that can trickle over into home life.
- ♻️ Just say no to logo printed swag. Tempting as it is to order plastic whatsits (like t-shirts or note pads) with your logo on them for your “employee appreciation event”, chances are your staff doesn’t need more inessentials, and the gift may go unused. If you do opt for a printed item, choose a reusable water bottle, something with multiple practical uses. Otherwise, consider supporting another small business with a local gift certificate or local made treat.
- ♻️ Quality office equipment. Not only does quality equipment contribute to a healthier work environment simply by upping “quality of life” vibes – it also means less broken things heading to a landfill, and less budget needed for replacement items, not to mention less wasted time spent dealing with repairs and ordering replacements. It may cost a little more in the short term – but is long-term-worth-it.
- ♻️ Standardize what you can. Check out this CBC story about the EU regulating charging cables. Eliminating ewaste in this way can also be regulated in-house! Standardized electronics, but also things like staplers, inks, etc. saves not only the environment – but also your mind when needing a particular cable or a refill! https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/apple-usb-charging-1.6186548
Go green in the bathroom:
- ♻️ Rethink paper towels. The most modern air dryers have a smaller eco-footprint (“The Climate Conservancy reports that for each use, hand dryers cause between 9 and 40 grams of carbon dioxide emissions, whereas paper towels have an average of 56 grams of carbon dioxide emissions.”*), a washable towel is great if appropriate for your space, and if you stick with paper, recycled content or bamboo are best.
- ♻️ Recycled or bamboo TP. Au naturel toilet paper is not the scratchy stuff of days past!
- ♻️ Low flush toilets. Well, this is a big-budget waste reduction tip – but if possible, waste less water with a low-flush toilet. Not in the budget? A brick (or water filled 1 or 2L plastic bottle) in the tank can help!
- ♻️ Eco-friendly soap. Choose an all-natural soap for the dispenser – of course we recommend Live for Tomorrow’s “Clean Mitts” that you can order here. Surprise your workplace with this eco-option!
- ♻️ Just say no to air fresheners. Toted as “fresh air scents”, these tropical or forest fresh diffusers are far from fresh – often containing toxic medley of chemicals and artificial toxins.
And in all shared spaces:
- ♻️ Set up recycling bins in shared spaces. Especially the kitchen and break room! For those who buy packaged lunches, or use this space to open take-away meals or snacks, having appropriate system for waste collection will save loads of landfill waste. If you build it, they will come!
- ♻️ Use refillable green products for bathroom, kitchen, cleaning. We mentioned this for bathroom soap, but it also applies to dish soap for the kitchen, and cleaning supplies for the whole office. Using refillable all-natural supplies reduces wasteful packaging while contributing to a healthy work environment with improved air quality. Most regular cleaning products contain a nefarious mix of toxic chemicals – not very “clean” at all! Check out Live for Tomorrow’s premium and refillable all-natural cleaning products: https://lftbrands.com/shop/
- ♻️ Buy in bulk. Refills are not only for cleaning products – buying bulk in general reduces wasteful packaging. This includes kitchen staples like coffees and teas, and also papers and pens.
Circular economy for the win!
A big takeaway from the pandemic is that issues with the supply chain can have a crippling effect on one’s business. If products you sell or use are sourced from local suppliers, who also source locally – you can be in better shape if or when calamity strikes. We saw shortages of imported products and packaging, but, if refill and reuse solutions are in place, this can be avoided.
Live for Tomorrow promotes a circular economy in a number of ways, including:
- ✅ Our products are sustainably packaged and are refillable.
- ✅ They are highly concentrated and premium quality, therefor waterwise and a little goes a long way.
- ✅ Available in bulk means larger scale solutions for offices, schools and public spaces.
- ✅ They create local small business opportunities as a local product to sell or offer for refill.
- ✅ And last but not least, Live for Tomorrow offers a bulk packaging return program for our retailers/refilleries, which is then reused – so zero-waste!
Checking all the boxes on creating viability for, and maintaining, a circular economy, we strive to help change the way our economy works by designing products that limit consumption and protect resources. If you have not already done so, we hope you join us in this growing movement!
Comment below or find us on your social media platform of choice to share your most unique cost saving/waste reduction idea – for the workplace, or anywhere!
We choose Small Business!