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#sustainability

Make Your Workplace Plastic-free in Just 5 Steps

Article April 24, 2018  |  Text by Lucie Kolomá Text by Lucie Kolomá

Companies from a variety of fields are aiming for a plastic-free office. Among them is for example the consulting firm Horton International Czech, where they make a point of sorting all their waste: you won’t encounter a single water bottle or plastic cup anywhere in their spaces. Butterflies & Hurricane, a company in Prague’s Karlín district, or Skanska as its neighbour likewise maintain a zero-waste policy focused on fighting the plastic evil. Will you join in too?

In the 1950s, the use of plastics as a cheap replacement for classical materials saw a massive boom. And since that time their production has risen continuously. Environmentalists warn against our lax approach to recycling, which has led to half of our plastics ending up in rivers, seas, and oceans.

They cluster far from the shore due to ocean currents, or they end up in the bowels of maritime and coastal animals. About 150 million tons of plastics are currently floating in our oceans. To give you an idea, that’s about 100 million Škoda cars...

We encounter many of these synthetic and semi-synthetic materials at every step at home, outdoors, and at work. If just 10% of the world’s businesses today were to replace their single-use plastic products with waste-neutral ones, the Earth would breathe freer within a year.

Can you imagine a life without plastics? It’s not unimaginable for us, so we’ve prepared these 5 tips for you on how to relieve the Earth a bit of its deep-rooted plastic affliction.

1. Office Necessities? Through Your Connectivity!

In our age of digitalization, there’s no longer any need to use office supplies like we did in the old millennium. Step into the online world with both feet! And when you absolutely need office supplies, visit to a stationery store that sells goods without pointless plastic packaging.

Place recycling bins in your office or in the hallways and form a sustainability team that will monitor your plastic waste generation. “The Zero Waste philosophy is very close to our company’s ethics regarding sustainability and environmental-friendliness. We have been striving for years to reduce our plastic waste levels; the foundation here is to enable our employees to recycle at all and to educate them on the issue. Therefore, we hold special training sessions every year,” says Petra Machartová, Marketing and Communication Coordinator at Skanska Property.

2. Will Seagulls Finish Your Lunch?

Not if the last part left is the packaging. So, erase single-use packaging from take-away lunches out of your life, forget about it, let it move on to the next planet. Set aside a few moments for lunch each day instead. Head out to a restaurant or make your lunch at home. Your body will thank you, and the Earth will too.

As an elegant and eye-pleasing compromise, if you absolutely need it, you can have food brought to you in cereal bowls. These are absolutely recyclable—but you will pay extra.

3. A Message in a Plastic Bottle

Did you know that over a million bottles of bottled water are sold worldwide every minute? And that less than half of them are recycled? In 2017 that was 470 billion bottles, and the numbers keep on rising. (These numbers are from the Packaging research project performed by Euromonitor International.)

The solution? Ban single-use water bottles, install a sustainable water reservoir, promote the use of tap water, and acquire a good-quality filter. And those cups by the water barrel? Please send these away along with your plastic dishes.

4. The Failed Invention

Vending machines that shoot out plastic cups are another environmental scourge. Just get rid of this anachronism. And anyway: let he who enjoys the taste of vending-machine coffee cast the first PET bottle!

Meanwhile in the last few years, yet another vice has shown up among our caffeine rituals: coffee capsules. Coffee made using these may taste great, but its plastic waste will rumble in the Earth’s stomach for many a year. Even John Sylvan, the inventor of capsule coffee, now regrets his invention.

Capsule consumption in America alone is so high that a chain of these capsules would run around the planet roughly 12 times. And they are as complicated to recycle as they are simple to use. Many capsule manufacturers are aware of this. Nespresso, for example, urges its customers to respect the environment. It has prepared a recycling program in which it gives these capsules a second life; you just bring the capsules back to one of their sales points.

5. Do a Little Something More

Create your own graphic for your team and have cloth bags produced for them. You’ll reduce the usage of single-use plastic sacks and bags at least among your own employees, and you’ll also be creating positive environmental advertising for a minimal investment. And if you want, cloth bags can be just the beginning; you can brand recyclable bottles for your team to use at the gym — and much more.