We know the negative implications of plastic on our environment; we have been bombarded with evidence and suggestions that climate change is a real and happening thing - right now; and we saw the introduction of plastic tax back in April. And we also know that anything that can't be recycled, put in the compost, or that is biodegradable, contributes to a world wide problem of land fill.
So what happens when a business decides to take a positive stance on using less plastics to help with all of the above? How does a business actually go about doing this? With it being plastic free July, we thought it the perfect time to take a little look at some of the ways businesses can cleverly eradicate plastics from their offices and businesses in general.
By the way, some may be asking what is "plastic free July". It's a global movement to help educate humans on making better alternative choices to plastic, to help reduce plastic pollution. As the Plastic Free Foundation (which created plastic free July way back in 2011) encourages, a less plastic world involves cleaner streets, oceans and communities. It's better for us all!
Here, we take a look at a few initiatives that you might find helpful in your business, be it you working alone in your studio all the way through to a 1000+ company.
Envelopes and boxes, packaging and storage
Let's start with the obvious elephant in the room (given you all know what we do over here at Enviroflute)... We know that not all envelopes and packaging are equal, but this one is an easy swap in any business. With so many biodegradable, compostable and recyclable choices available on the market now, there is no need to buy single use old school plastic bags, typically coined "jiffy bags" to distribute your products. Just one alternative that springs to mind is our recyclable and biodegradable padded bags. We launched these as an alternative to the plastic padded bags and they've been helping customers send jewellery, compact electronics, fixings and more, ever since.
The thing that many people don't know is that bubble wrap, which often fills padded bags, is actually recyclable at specific commercial centres (like supermarkets), however it's almost impossible to separate the bubble wrap from the paper on the outside, which therefore makes them non recyclable.
Same goes for a lot of coffee cups sold around the world...
Gift reusables like cups, water bottles or cutlery
Did you know that a huge proportion of single use coffee cups sold can not even be recycled because they have a layer of thin plastic surrounding the paper that is nigh impossible to separate? An easy win to using the single use coffee cup (and water bottle) is to encourage your staff to use reusable cups and/or water bottles.
If you eradicate plastics from your office space, and don't sell single use plastic products, you are doing the world a very big favour. Single use plastics are a big baddie. According to the gov.uk site,
"England uses 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery — most of which are plastic — per year, but only 10% are recycled upon disposal". The numbers are staggering."
One option that you can introduce to help reduce these staggering numbers is through buying your staff reusable bamboo or stainless steal coffee cups, or even a cool set of reusable cutlery that they can keep in their backpack or at office desk. And what's more, there's nothing stopping you from printing your logo on the outside, just like our customers do on our packaging products. Show off that you're doing something great for the environment, and share your company logo at the same time. It's a win win!
Singe use plastics in the office, bathrooms and kitchenettes
Offices can make bathrooms and kitchens plastic free too by introducing a ban on the use of single use plastic bottle cleaners and detergents. Companies like Fill offer glass pump bottles, and are kind to the environment with healthy and safe refills for detergent and hand soaps. Not only that, but they look very cool too.
And when you support companies like Fill, you're supporting a family business just like us here at Enviroflute. Supporting local businesses also helps reduce your office carbon footprint overall - another indirect bonus while reducing the plastics in your office.
Make your office paperless
While this article is about sharing ways to be plastic free, and that typically encourages you to tackle the big 4 - straws, cups, bags and plastic bottles - if you get rid of small printers from your office, and make everything paperless, think of all the plastic you're reducing, along with the paper. While you might purchase a printer, typically made from PLA, ABS or PETG type plastics, and only need to purchase it once for a very long time, there still is a follow on effect of having a printer in your office. For example, every time you buy new print cartridges, chances are they'll be wrapped in single use plastic. It's going to cost your company less in the long run because you won't be paying for printer servicing, cartridges or paper refills.
Going paperless is a process, but once implemented, will save your staff a lot of headaches, not to mention that they'll never have to stand by the printer cursing when it won't print a document, ever again!
(oh and we can do all the other boring printing for you...so you can get on with the fun things!)
Ask for ideas
Sometimes the people with the best ideas are the staff themselves. While you're introducing your plastic free initiatives, why not ask your staff to get involved. Perhaps you can introduce a cool plastic free prize for the person with the best idea.
So there we have it. Five useful ways to get involved with plastic free July, and also save money at the same time. If you do decide to implement any of these, why not drop us an email or comment on Instagram and let us know what you've introduced and how it's going in the office. Or perhaps you have some even cooler plastic free ideas that we don't know about. We would love to hear them!
And finally, don't forget that being plastic free doesn't need to be a July only thing... we have all those other months in the calendar year to look after our precious planet too.