Using Less Plastic in Your Office Space for Rent in NJ – a Guide
Plastic pollution is a huge problem. Cities, counties and even states across the nation are banning disposable plastic items one at a time in order to try and control the problem from spiraling out of control. However, we continue to use and discard plastic, and it all adds up.
In this blog, the folks at Blau & Berg want to discuss why plastic is a problem, and what your business can do to help. Make your office space for rent in NJ almost completely plastic-free with our tips below.
Why is plastic a problem?
Plastic is a durable material that’s excellent when used in containers and packaging. However, its one major problem is the fact that it doesn’t decompose for centuries – it lies in landfills and oceans, heaping up and leaching toxic chemicals into our ecosystems. Marine creatures mistake it for food and swallow it, which causes a painful death. Many creatures get caught in netting and other similar plastic items…the list goes on.
However, the real problem with plastic is just the sheer quantity we use. All of the problems listed above would not matter if we didn’t use quite so much plastic. As to what the quantity actually is, we’ll let these numbers do the talking:
- Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans.
- 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually.
- Since the 1950s, around 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced worldwide – of which only 9% has been recycled.
- 73% of beach litter worldwide is plastic.
- A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute.
- About 2 million plastic bags are used every minute around the world.
- The average person eats 70,000 microplastics each year.
- The average time that a plastic bag is used for is just 12 minutes.
These aren’t numbers we’ve made up – they’re statistics listed by reputable websites such as Global Citizen and Surfers Against Sewage.
How your business can help
If you have an office space for rent in NJ, you can make your business an eco-friendly one and reduce plastic usage in many ways. Let’s go over some of them:
Educate your staff
While most people are aware of the environmental consequences of plastic, many still aren’t. So, start by educating your workstaff and colleagues. Ask them for a few minutes, and educate them on why plastic is a problem, and how this problem can be solved.
From Less Plastic: “Why not hold a talk about ocean plastic in your workplace? You could either get someone internal who is passionate about the problem to share their concerns or invite an external expert to come and inspire your team with first-hand stories of the devastation that plastic pollution is causing to our natural environment and to share insights and practical strategies to use less plastic in their personal lives and professional roles.”
Organize a beach clean
Events at the workplace are usually fun, but when it’s the same old thing over and over – like an office party – things start to get boring. So, to kill two birds with one stone, organize a beach cleaning event the next time! Take your team to the beach, armed with cleaning supplies, and pick up trash and take it for recycling (or dispose of it) on your way back.
It may not sound like especially fun, but your staff would get to spend some time at the beach, soaking in the sun and learning about the environment. They’d have time to interact with each other, to relax, and they’d be helping the environment while doing all of this! On your way back, you can stop at a café and give your staff a treat – without any disposable plastic cups or cutlery, of course.
Recycle all office waste
Many plastic items can be recycled, and you should check out your county’s website to see which items are recycled where you live. Then let your staff know, and install a recycling bin so whenever there’s any recyclable plastic trash at your office space for rent in NJ, it goes into the right bin.
Putting things for recycling usually involves cleaning and drying them, so make sure that’s a possibility at the workspace. Your staff can leave their plastic disposables to dry overnight on a specially installed shelf, and bin them on their way in the next morning.
Provide free, filtered water
Encourage your staff to use reusable bottles and to refill them by providing free tap water. Filtered water is a better option, since many people prefer to drink bottled water because they aren’t comfortable drinking unfiltered tap water. The cost is small, and you’ll see a lot less plastic being dumped in the trash cans over time.
Discourage the use of disposable plastics
Wherever single-use plastics are used, make sure you provide a more environmentally-friendly alternative so your staff choose the latter. Cups, plates, cutlery, straws, bottles, containers, bags – and much more! For instance, you can provide reusable coffee mugs next to the coffee machine, for people to use and wash. This will discourage the use of disposable plastic.
Just make sure that when you remove an item, you provide a better alternative. If you were to simply remove plastic cups and not provide anything else for your staff to drink coffee from, it’ll cause a new problem.
Gift reusables to your staff
The best way to encourage the use of reusable items is to gift some to your staff. Notice where disposables are frequently being used, and buy some reusables to give out instead. For example, if many of your staff members drink coffee in plastic cups, or bring bottled water or plastic bags, you can give out ceramic mugs, reusable plastic bottles and cloth bags.
Ask your staff to use their gifts, and encourage them to spot other places where they can improve, and to make the switch to reusable or eco-friendly options. Give them ideas, to provide a jumping-off point.
Use other eco-friendly options
Not every office space for rent in NJ can encourage reusables. We get it. Reusable mugs, plates, straws and more – all items used in consuming food – require that the user clean them immediately after use. If your office does not have enough space for that, it’s okay – you can still be eco-friendly!
You can either send your plastic for recycling, or use disposable, but eco-friendly items. Some items such as edible straws and paper plates are non-reusable, but not bad for the environment either. You can try these, if reusing seems too complicated.
Ask suppliers to use less plastic packaging.
From Less Plastic: “Many organisations feel helpless when it comes to the amount of plastic packaging that is delivered into their business from suppliers on a daily basis. However, as the client, you have more sway than you realise, especially in the current climate when many are taking to social media to share shocking pictures of excessive and pointless plastic packaging.
To keep relations positive, the best approach is to draft a formal letter explaining your objectives to cut your business plastic footprint, with guidelines of how you would prefer to receive your deliveries in future. You could experiment with a traffic light system, where red is a no-go (e.g. polystyrene, one of the worst packaging offenders) amber is acceptable (e.g. recyclable polybags) and green is preferred (e.g. returnable and reusable packaging or recycled and recyclable cardboard).”
These were some simple but effective ways for your office space to become a little bit more eco-friendly. If these tips are hard to remember, just remember the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle. That means reduce your plastic consumption, reuse things when you can (or switch to reusables), and recycle your trash.
The best alternatives to plastic
Depending on its purpose, there are many materials that can be used as an alternative to plastic. If your company uses plastic in its packaging, you can replace the plastic with paper, cardboard, or beeswax-coated cloth for something that resembles plastic.
For bags and other similar items, cloth, jute and even bamboo can be used.
Hard plastic, metal, glass, silicone, ceramics and wood are some alternatives that can be used in hard items such as containers, cutlery, and straws.
If you want something that closely resembles plastic and has most of its attributes, go for potato plastic. This is a material made out of potato starch, and it is fully biodegradable, and ocean safe. Potato plastic decomposes within two months, which makes it a great alternative to plastic, which stays in the environment for centuries.
Find the perfect office space for rent in NJ
Care about the environment, and want to find an office space that’s eco-friendly? Come to Blau & Berg! We have decades of real estate experience, and we will help you find the perfect office space. Buildings that are well-insulated and utilize their space properly are good candidates, but if you have any other specific requirements, we’ll keep them in mind.