Over the years, it has become clear that we need to rethink the way we treat our planet and consider our use of the resources available to us. One part of reducing our eco-footprint is by adjusting our habits and being conscious of our day-to-day activities that might have negative ecological consequences.
If you’re the owner of a small business, you and your employees probably spend a majority of your day at work. Encouraging your employees to be more environmentally aware can make a big difference to the office culture and people’s attitudes because every small change counts. However, it can sometimes be hard to put ideas into practice, so here are some ways you can instil a recycling culture in your business that will stand the test of time.
Education and Communication
The best way to effect change to educate people about why the change is necessary so that they become personally invested or motivated in achieving the objective. This can be applied to many different situations and one of these is recycling. Unlike you as the business owner, your employees don’t have a direct financial interest in reducing their waste and recycling as they might have in their home lives.
If you want employees in your business to be more waste-conscious and eco-friendly, you need to talk to them about the importance of this kind of behavior and show them how it could make a difference to their lives too. You could do this by holding an event where you suggest schemes and emphasise the importance of being environmentally conscious. In this situation factsheets, statistics and simple graphs can be incredibly effective in articulating the damage humans are doing to the environment.
Make the focus about raising awareness and starting a discussion rather than enforcing new rules on your team members. Instead, communicate with your staff about what recycling strategies seem most effective and applicable to them and how you could improve recycling efforts. For all you know there may be employees as passionate as you are who could teach you something too!
Make it Easy
One way to instil recycling culture in your business is to make it easy for employees to integrate recycling habits into their office routine. Ideally, to ensure everyone participates in the effort, you should try and make recycling more convenient than not recycling.
Install recycling bins all throughout the office, rather than just by the printers. Put them by people’s desk so they don’t have an excuse not to recycle! Some people can be reluctant to recycle simply because it can seem difficult or confusing. By simplifying the process you can encourage your employees to develop everyday eco-friendly habits. Put bins anywhere recyclable waste may be created, such as the kitchen or communal areas where people may dispose of food containers or plastic utensils.
As well as recycling bins for paper, bottles, plastic and aluminium you should also have a compost bin for organic waste. This could be excess food or food scraps, garden cuttings, cork cutoffs or anything material your business may produce. If organic material is wrongly disposed of it produces methane, a greenhouse gas, but many businesses still don’t recycle organic waste so having the facilities will make it easier for your team members to do it. The other recycling bin you should consider having is a technology-specific waste bin so employees can easily recycle technology they are no longer using or electronic items and waste.
Make it Visual
Part of making the process of recycling easy is to use visual tools to promote it. Using different colours and clear labels on different bins will help employees easily recognise what waste goes where. As well as this putting up colorful posters, funny signs and slogans throughout the workplace can not only provide useful information about how and why we should recycle waste, but it can also help in encouraging the practice. For example, as time goes on you put up graphs or visual data about the amount of waste reduction that you’ve achieved in the office to help motivate your team to continue with the process.
Keep it Clean
Something that can put people off recycling is when it creates mess or bad smells because bins or containers aren’t regularly cleaned. If you want a culture of recycling in your business, it’s important to make sure that employees don’t have negative associations when they think about it.
Make an effort to ensure that recycling bins are regularly cleaned and properly emptied and that areas around the bins are also kept clean. This is especially relevant to compost bins that can quickly fill-up and create odours of old or rotting food – not pleasant! Have cleaning supplies on hand so you can spray off recycling bins when needed.
Have a Reward System
Humans thrive off healthy competition and it always helps have an incentive to encourage changes in behaviour. Setting recycling goals and targets helps your employees work towards a collective objective but you can also motivate team member and promote participation by offering rewards or office perks for those employees who show commitment to the program and meet the goals first.
Wine, vouchers, free lunches or other gifts will help staff members to feel recognised and inspire them to continue putting a concerted effort into their recycling. Competitions attached to awareness campaigns can also promote team-building if you make different departments or groups compete against one another for a prize.
Making a few changes to the office can help you to instill a recycling culture amongst your employees and in turn, your business can do its part in making a difference to the environment. Just ensure you regularly review your recycling strategies and check that you’re doing the best that you can reduce the ecological footprint of your business.