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Office Recycling: 5 Ways You Can Make A Difference

By Sebrina Zerkus Smith |
It seems to me that many people who are fanatical about their carbon footprint at home, forget about it once they leave for the office.

By now everyone (well, almost everyone) knows something about recycling at home. Whether it's simply collecting newspapers or separating everything from wine bottles to garden clippings, I don't know very many people who don't do some type of recycling - at home. I applaud them all. But still, I'm going to ask, "What have you done for me lately?"

What I mean is this, do you recycle at work, too? It seems to me that many people who are fanatical about their carbon footprint at home, forget about it once they leave for the office. And yes, many companies sponsor recycling programs for things like paper but what else can we do?

Here are some tips to help green your workspace.

Trade In Your Staples For Paper Clips
Staples are easy. Staples are convenient. Staples clog up the recycling stream. You know how you have separate different kinds of recyclables? Well, staples have to be removed from each piece of paper for either to be recycled. Instead, think way, way back to the days of paper clips. Yes, it's true Virginia, paper clips hold papers together as effectively as any staple. How to? Well, you write a note on a scrap of paper and attach to another piece of paper with a paper clip. Seems so simple. And they are completely reusable and last a lifetime. You can even link them together and make a chic necklace. BTW, an old mug makes a neat clip holder. Now you're ready for the front office.

Make Your Own Tiny Memo Notes
To complement your newly recycled coffee mug/ paper clip holder, pair it with some tiny memo notes you make yourself. Just take some used paper or outdated letterhead and trot on over to the paper cutter. (If you don't have an office paper cutter, scissors will do fine.) And trim that old paper into 3 x 3 squares. Or any other shape or size you like. Be creative, let your personality show. Cut ovals, rectangles or even kitty cats. Doesn't matter. Pair with your new paper clips and it's business as usual…without all the waste.

Create A Place For Recycling Office Supplies
Set aside a place in a common area with a box for office supplies. Think staplers, paper clips, pens, etc., and ask everyone to add to the box when they've finished using something, and to check there first if they need something. Think of all the rubber bands that won't be leaving the supply closet. The planet thanks you.

Reuse envelopes for internal correspondence
After all, does anyone really care that they aren't getting a new envelope for that memo about the weekly staff meeting? I'd guess, no. Scratch out the name of the prior recipient then write in the new name, and off it goes.

Repurpose file folders, boxes, and packing materials
Instead of getting a new folder for each new job, why not reuse folders from completed jobs. If you turn old folders inside-out, they even look new. Likewise, use old boxes to store supplies. Reuse packing material to send another package. Or better yet, (with your boss's permission) donate used packaging to your local school, retirement community or church and let them reuse it. You can even return it to any packaging store so they can reuse it.

Respect, recycle and reuse your office supplies, and they will last longer, save your company money and help save the planet.

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  • Nancy N. 2 years ago
    Re purposing office supplies is a great idea.
  • Elaine F. 4 years ago
    We use old paper as scrap paper.
  • Kelly F. 4 years ago
    sounds good, also for a while I was bringing home plastic containers from my job. (I work in a bakery within a supermarket and we had empty plastic containers from samples.) Instead of tossing them in the trash I brought them to my house to be collected in the yellow bin; we also have a bottle room and plastic bag bins. I noticed many stores not just grocery stores collect plastic bags.