26 Ways to Reduce Office Waste in the New Year

Go green in 2019 with these easy and responsible waste reduction tips.

One of the ways to reduce office waste is to print on both sides.

The average company in the U.S. uses 21 million tons of paper, and the average office worker uses about 500 disposable cups each year. But paper isn’t the only type of waste that many offices generate. From food scraps to plastics and general waste like Styrofoam and unnecessary packaging, our landfills and environmental resources are increasingly becoming taxed in our “throw away” world.

No matter how large or small your business, reducing waste – sometimes even more than recycling – is one of the best ways you can help protect the environment and reduce your carbon footprint. And what makes us the experts on the topic? We’ve reduced our office waste by 75% since our inception in 2006. Here are a few of our favorite office waste reduction tips to help fuel your “go-green” efforts in the New Year:

  1. Print on both sides – Almost all printers and copiers have a duplex function today, making it easier to print two-sided, a selection available on your printing menu.
  2. Use blank sides of paper – When printing a one-sided document that you will only use short-term like a draft or meeting agenda, cross off the printed side when you’re done and reuse the blank side later.
  3. Don’t print pages off the web – If you see or share a page online that you want to reference later, bookmark it instead of clicking the “print” button.
  4. Store office files digitally – Instead of filling file cabinets with company documents, consider placing your files on a computer storage drive or use a cloud-based service, like Dropbox.
  5. Create digital contracts – Rather than printed contracts, use online services like DocuSign to obtain legally-binding signatures without using any paper.
  6. Limit snail mail – Instead, handle your business correspondence via phone, email, or in person.
  7. Reduce junk mail – Contact the senders of mail your office received but is not interested in and request removal from the mailing list.
  8. Reduce printing re-dos – Affix a printing guide on your printers and copiers with directions for printing on letterhead, checks, and other documents, so they are printed correctly with no need for a re-do.
  9. Shred your paper – Not only is shredding good for the environment, but it can also be an identity theft saver at the office. Shred everything with your company name/address/logo on it, vendor and supplier bills, sales receipts (unless related to warranties, taxes, or insurance), bank statements, and payroll stubs.
  10. Use reusable water bottles instead of plastic – Even if you recycle a plastic water bottle, it takes between 400 – 1,000 years to decompose, and the chemicals in the plastic can seep into the water, making it unhealthy. Find more startling facts about the water bottle here. In 2019, we will be adding boxed water – a more environmentally-responsible alternative to plastic – to our online store. Stay tuned!
  11. Use reusable straws – If your office mates prefer to sip their beverages, consider replacing plastic straws with biodegradable versions. As opposed to stainless steel, silicone straws burn to biodegradable ash, making it yet another smart addition to your office waste reduction strategy in 2019.
  12. Ditch disposable serving ware – Replace your paper and plastic forks, spoons, cups, and plates in your breakroom with reusable dishes and take turns washing them each day. Alternatively, you can ask your coworkers to bring their own reusable lunch containers and dishes.
  13. Use cloth instead of paper towels – Install a cloth towel roll dispenser instead of paper towels to clean up office messes.
  14. Start commercially composting – About 2/3 of the waste in your office trash is likely commercially compostable, so check with your building or facilities manager about taking your compostable waste to a local composting facility.
  15. Reuse your office products – Items like binders, file folders, and refilled toner cartridges can save money and reduce your office waste in the New Year.
  16. Use non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning products – Those that contain low or non-volatile organic compounds are gentler on the environment. Look for concentrated versions to reduce your waste even more – most just require a small amount mixed with water.
  17. Buy in bulk – Whenever it makes sense, purchase larger quantities of the items your office regularly uses to limit your use of cardboard boxes.
  18. Recycle your office supplies – Instead of throwing away toner and ink cartridges, batteries, office furniture, and other supplies, contact us to help you recycle them, so they don’t end up in the landfill. Learn more about how we can help you with recycling office supplies here.
  19. Purchase products with little or no packaging – When it comes to office supplies, we deliver our orders in reusable tote bags and leave no useless packaging behind. We also request that our vendors take back their cardboard, so they can reuse them for another customer.
  20. Buy high-quality office equipment – Cheap and ineffective printers, fax machines, and other office equipment do a number on our landfills. Instead, look to a supplier who carries brands you can trust and can be easily serviced instead of discarded. Check out our office supply brands here.
  21. Encourage responsible transportation – Another way to reduce your office waste in the New Year is to encourage walking or biking to work, make carpooling arrangements, and using teleconferencing when travel is unnecessary.
  22. Reduce computer energy use – Ask your coworkers to shut down computers at the end of each day, use automatic sleep settings, and avoid screensavers to help reduce your energy waste in the office.
  23. Adjust your heating and cooling settings – Be sure to set your office thermostat so that it works less during non-working hours. On weekends and overnight, keep it cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer.
  24. Turn off the lights – Check to see if your company can install lighting that automatically turns off when the space is unoccupied or encourage your coworkers to turn the lights off when they leave their workspace, break room, conference room, and restrooms.
  25. Unplug appliances – Just as you would at home, unplug coffee makers, vending machines, and other appliances when your office is closed for extended periods like holiday breaks and long weekends.
  26. Buy local – From coffee and office furniture to cleaning supplies and other office supplies, use a local supplier to limit the distance your goods must travel and reduce environmental waste. Learn more about the benefits of buying from a local and independent company like ours here.

There are seemingly endless ways to reduce office waste, and even the smallest changes can make the biggest difference. It really is easy going green!

In addition to our eco-conscious nature, we also offer loads of other benefits to working with us including an easy ordering process and business account pricing. If you’re not already a customer, call our local customer concierge to set up your business account at (608) 310-4300 or log in to shop today!

For more articles on waste reduction and other environmentally-friendly office tips, keep reading our blog.