Green Business: Office/Retail Tips and Ideas for Waste Reduction and Recycling

Reduce waste in the following ways:

  • Discourage the printing of emails.
  • Set copier/printer defaults to double-sided.
  • Use computer fax modems that allow faxing directly from computers without printing.
  • Eliminate fax cover sheets by using "sticky" fax directory notes.
  • Eliminate unnecessary forms, redesign forms to use less paper, or switch to electronic forms.
  • Use a bulletin board or routing lists for memos and journals to reduce printed copies.
  • Reduce all unwanted mailings:
    • Eliminate duplicates by returning labels requesting all but one be removed.
    • Reduce junk mail. Guidance and a PDF kit are at http://stopjunkmail.org Reduce catalogs at www.catalogchoice.org
    • Eliminate duplicates in your own mailing lists.
  • For new software, order only the number of manuals needed. Do the same with phone books. Encourage employees to share.
  • Design marketing materials that require no envelope - simply fold and mail.
  • Buy products in returnable or reusable containers.
  • Work with vendors to minimize packaging.
  • Eliminate the use of non-recyclable packaging, such as Styrofoam.
  • In the lunch/break room, replace disposables with permanent items (e.g., mugs, dishes, utensils, towels/rags, coffee filters, etc.) and use refillable containers for sugar, salt & pepper, etc. to avoid individual condiment packets.
  • Serve food at office events in reusable serving dishes.
  • Eliminate single-use plastic water bottles.
  • Centralize purchasing to eliminate unnecessary purchases and ensure all waste reduction purchasing policies are followed.
  • Lease, rather than purchase, computers and printers.

Reuse materials in the following ways:

  • Use reconditioned parts and components.
  • Print on previously printed paper, or designate a tray on printers as a "draft" tray.
  • Reuse office paper as scratch paper.
  • Reuse envelopes by covering old addresses and postage, and affixing new.
  • Reuse paper or plastic packaging materials.
  • Designate a reuse area for office supplies such as binders, folders and staplers.
  • Have your toner cartridges refilled for use.

Recycle the following materials:

  • Cardboard
  • Newspapers, office/mixed paper, junk mail
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Metal beverage cans
  • Plastic bottles, jugs and jars
  • Printer cartridges
  • Batteries
  • Fluorescent lighting
  • Cell phones
  • Scrap metal
  • Pallets

Buy the following items with recycled content:
Purchasing products made from recycled materials conserves resources and is essential to support the recycling market.

  • Copier/printer paper
  • Folders or other paper products
  • Envelopes
  • Letterhead
  • Business cards
  • Paper towels
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet seat covers
  • Garbage bags
  • Boxes or bags for retail use or shipping
  • Retreaded tires
  • Tire flaps
  • Recycled or remanufactured laser and copier toner cartridges
  • Carpet, carpet undercushion or floor mats
  • Remodeling/construction materials: cabinets, fixtures, ceramic and ceiling tiles, drywall, insulation, interior paneling, composite lumber/wood, roofing, concrete, etc.

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