• Kara Richardson

The Road to Sustainability (Part 1): How to Practice Sustainability at Work


You love your job and rock at the work you do. But let’s be honest-some workplaces are not as environmentally friendly as they should be. After all, you’re throwing away take out boxes and papers and all sorts of stuff that could be recycled instead. That doesn’t mean your workplace can’t be sustainable. It means that YOU have to develop a mindset of sustainability, wherever you are. Let’s visit the definition of sustainability:

Sustainability is the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.


We all need to do our part to limit waste. Developing the mindset of reuse/reduce/recycle will not only reduce the amount of trash going into landfills, but will help conserve our natural resources, like water and energy. If your employer doesn’t have a recycling program, there are things that you can do to maintain the concepts of sustainability that you are developing at home. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but I’ve started doing some of these things and I can see the difference it’s making. I’ve even had a chance to tell a coworker about some of the changes I’ve adopted (she saw me pulling out an actual fork instead of using a plastic one). Hopefully it will cause change in her, too. But don’t be upset if you miss a day of recycling. I have forgotten many times. Consistency is more about making habits that will last over time than about being perfect.


Things You Can Do to Be More Earth Friendly at Work:


1. Use a mug instead of a styrofoam cup for your coffee or tea.

2. Don’t use those tiny stirring sticks to stir your sugar or creamer into you drink. Use a reusable spoon instead.

3. Bring your lunch that you made from home. That way, you can get reusable containers that don’t get thrown away immediately.

4. If you do have to eat out, limit the amount of single use containers and utensils you use. If you can find an eatery with reusable or recyclable containers, that’s even better.

5. Consider using a thermal cup to keep your drinks cold or hot. There’s no need to bring individual bottles of water if you don’t have to.

6. Use reusable utensils and straws instead of single use ones. You can buy metal straws and eco-friendly cutlery that you can carry in a case and keep in your purse or bag.

7. If you have to wash dishes, don’t use a ton of water. 8. Use a towel to dry off your dishes instead of paper towels.

9. Put your paper in the shred box. Most shredders recycle the paper anyway, so put that loose paper in the box, too.

10. Watch your utilities. Even though you don’t pay the bills, you can still cut a light off, or turn a thermostat down.


Finally, if you feel compelled to, take recycling home with you to put in your own bins. That’s completely up to you, though. I tried to do that once and ended up with trash in my office for a week because I forgot about it.

That’s my list! If you’ve adopted some sustainable habits in your workplace let me know in comments below. Let’s work on saving the world together!

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