Saving the environment – bring plastic to work, risk losing your job?

Most of us try to do our part for the environment. We separate waste and make the most of leftovers, we turn off the lights when we’re not in the room (saving the environment, and a fortune, right?). But let’s be honest – don’t we essentially spend most of our waking hours at work? Does our environmental sensitivity cease there? We’re not the ones paying the utility bills. Brenda from Compliance throws her half-eaten apple into my plastic bin – why should I give a damn if she doesn’t?

Thankfully, businesses have been taking this into account. Andrew Cameron, owner of Intelligent Hand Dryers, has done away with religiously preaching to his staff on doing their bit for the environment at work. He consulted his workers and ran a trial plastic-ban, which went rather well. Now, he’s gone one step further: bring single-use plastic into the office, and risk losing your job – receiving three warnings on this will do the trick.

Too drastic, but I still want to help – as a business, what can I do?

It’s not just about waste separation and recycling. Cutting down on non-reusable items – most especially plastics – is essential. Cameron explains that his company provides his employees with re-usable water bottles, while he also encourages them to have lunch at local eateries rather than buying plastic-wrapped supermarket sandwiches. He also explains that this encourages staff to take proper breaks, giving them an opportunity to socialise over freshly prepared food, rather than munching down an egg salad sandwich at their desks. On this topic, encourage employees to bring in home-made lunches by providing toasters and microwaves.

Other incentives can include ditching re-usable coffee cups and providing employees with branded mugs – saving the environment and promoting your business with each cup of joe, right? Encourage minimal printing and eliminate plastic or write-on folders and make sure they can be re-used by providing removable labels. Make sure that all your staff members are aware of how to use the various waste bins (label them clearly and place them somewhere within easy reach of employees).

So, does Cameron’s new idea seem a tad harsh? Maybe so, maybe not. A company’s ethos is what it is – if environmental protection is at its forefront (as it very well should be) and you don’t want to conform, then that company isn’t the place for you.

Take care of the environment, it’s our home. Encourage your colleagues and employees to do the same. We’re in the same boat, Euros or no Euros.