860,000 tons of plastic cups and plates from the municipal solid waste stream were landfilled in 2007 (EPA). This does not include plastic utensils and packaging. That's a lot of plastic! How low could your office go in waste generation? Could it be zero waste? One easy way is to get rid of the disposable serviceware and get durable, reusable goods.
If you use polystyrene cups (commonly known as Styrofoam) in your office, get rid of them! Polystyrene is made from oil and is non-renewable, non-compostable and can't readily be recycled. It breaks up into small pieces that can be ingested by marine or bird life, killing them through starvation. Finally, studies have shown that chemicals in polystyrene are carcinogenic (especially when it's heated so don't reheat your leftovers or use for coffee) and can leach into your food or drink.
Simple Steps to Take
- Brainstorm how to eliminate disposables. Could the office invest in some durable goods? What would motivate people to bring their own utensils and plates to the office?
- Once a plan is established, propose it to senior staff. Once the plan is approved, educate your co-workers about the new policy. Have a brown bag (or party) and showcase the new durable goods