At iGPS, environmental sustainability is a key component of our business model. In honor of Global Recycling Day on March 18th, we surveyed iGPS team members to learn more about their recycling and sustainability habits and learn more about efforts they have made to reduce their carbon footprint. Although we were pleased to learn that nearly all of our team members recycle, the fact is that only about 30% of our overall waste stream is recycled — we have a long way to go to achieve the EPA estimated rate of 75%. This is why iGPS decided to get involved with the Global Recycling Foundation and do what we can to promote both education and action. As the organization states: “We must think again about what we throw away – seeing not waste, but opportunity.”
This article will explore ten simple ways to recycle at work and at home. We’ll also take the opportunity to highlight some recycling successes from our own team members.
Recycling Tips and Practices for the Workplace
The average person generates about four pounds of trash every day — and whether you work at home or in an office, some of this waste is generated during the workday. Here are our top tips and best practices for improving your recycling efforts in the workplace:
- Develop a “Green Team” — Putting together a green team is as simple as asking a few colleagues to volunteer some time each week to brainstorming and discussing recycling and sustainability activities. We also recommend creating recycling milestones and instituting a reward system to motivate coworkers and keep them engaged.
- Learn and communicate what can be recycled — Most recycling centers are equipped to work with specific types of recyclable materials, so it is important to learn and follow their guidelines. For example, some recycling centers allow certain materials to be mixed, while others do not.
- Clean out food containers before recycling — Food containers cannot be recycled unless they have been thoroughly washed of all food remnants. Placing your recycling stations near a kitchen sink will make this process easier and encourage compliance.
- Introduce centralized recycling — Keeping wastebaskets under workers’ desks is convenient, but it increases the likelihood that recyclables and trash will be mixed together. Having clearly labeled, centrally located garbage and recycling bins — including one for recyclable printer cartridges — is recommended.
- Go paperless — In this ever-expanding digital world, it is easier than ever to maintain reports, memos, and other documents in an exclusively digital form. For many office workers, working remotely during the pandemic has demonstrated that we don’t need large volumes of paper to work and communicate effectively.
More tips for recycling in the office can be found at Conserve Energy Future. Now, let’s turn our focus to what we can do at home to reduce waste.
Home Recycling Tips
Many communities have recycling programs these days — but are they doing enough? Are you following the proper guidelines, and making sure that all your recyclable materials are being recycled? Here are a few tips that can help you make a positive difference, regardless of where you live.
- Compost — In the United States, it is estimated that each person creates about 9 pounds of food waste a year. When organic matter sits in a landfill, it lacks the oxygen it needs to decompose properly. Instead, it creates methane gas as it breaks down, which contributes to harmful climate change. Composting is a free and easy way to turn waste into nutrient-rich material for your yard and garden. Check out this guide to learn more.
- Use reusable bags — Single-use plastic bags are clogging up our landfills and oceans and take centuries to break down. When shopping for groceries, consider using cloth or other reusable bags to reduce your dependence on plastic. Make a habit of putting the bags back in your car after use, so you always have them on hand when needed.
- Find out about local electronic recycling — A major problem we see in landfills is discarded electronics. Electronics don’t break down naturally, and the toxic metals cause damage to the environment. An easy way to recycle is to keep a few boxes in the garage where you put old electronics, batteries, and lightbulbs and bring them to an electronic recycling plant once or twice a year. If your community doesn’t offer this service, then check out Earth911 to find alternatives.
- Purchase products made from recycled materials — Many products can be made from recyclable materials, including straws, paper goods, and even phone covers and handbags. Increased consumer demand for recycled products and packaging will encourage manufacturers to introduce more recyclable products, and less waste into the environment.
- Donate or sell clothing and household goods — Recycling isn’t just about sending something to the recycling center to be repurposed — it’s also about responsible reuse of items in good condition. Instead of throwing away outgrown clothing or unused household items, consider holding a yard sale or donating them to local charities. Items that you might not need, or value are often in high demand elsewhere.
We can always do more. Check out this infographic from the Global Recycling Foundation on how to become a better “global recycling citizen.”
Recycling Success Stories from iGPS Team Members
At iGPS, we have made sustainability central to our plastic pallet design and pooling services. The lightweight, durable design and recyclability of our pallets make them a great option for any supply chain. However, we are always looking for more ways to make a difference and honor Global Recycling Day. Below are a few quotes from our iGPS teammates describing unique ways in which they have been able to make a positive difference. If you or your colleagues have a great story to share, consider nominating them for the Global Recycling Foundation’s Recycling Hero’s program.
- “My family buys a lot of stuff on Amazon Prime. I had been collecting all the bubble mailers assuming I could recycle them, but I could not find a local source. I reached out to several ‘Buy and Sell’ groups on Facebook to see if there were people that wanted them. Luckily, I found a woman who runs an eCommerce business from her house that could reuse them. Each month she comes by my house to pick them up, and I never have to throw them away!”
- “When the pandemic hit, iGPS corporate sent our facility a pallet of bottled water. The pallet held 1,700 plastic bottles, which we wanted to make sure didn’t end up in a landfill. A large recycling can was placed next to the supply of water with clear signage encouraging recycling. Once they were all consumed, I was delighted to take nine large bags full of plastic bottles to a local recycler!”
- “Instill the habits of recycling in children, and you will be amazed in how well they keep track of what you throw away and what you recycle. We make recycling a family contest, and any person who throws away a recyclable must put a dollar in a jar. At the end of the month, we give the money to the family member who recycled the most.”
We all know that recycling is important to our planet and our future, but it also needs to be something we can easily incorporate into our daily routines. We hope this article provided some helpful insights into how you can make recycling a higher priority at work and at home. Happy Global Recycling Day from all of us at iGPS Logistics!
Companies who understand the importance of recycling and sustainable supply chain management rent iGPS plastic pallets for all their shipping needs. Our pallet pooling program limits supply chain waste and reduces Total Cost of Business. To discover the benefits of our pooling program, call 1-800-884-0225, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact page.