We believe in doing things right and doing the right thing. But recently we’ve noticed that our office is nowhere near green, and it’s time to change that.

While we do have paper recycling, there hasn’t been any way to recycle plastic cups and bottles, aside from taking them home at the end of the day. Several team members have highlighted other areas where we can create a more “green” workplace. But it’s going to take a lot more than reusable straws to make an impact.

So, beginning on Earth Day 2019 we have a week-long challenge exploring ways we can promote sustainability at work. Here’s what we have planned:

Meatless Monday

  • Research shows that livestock production is a significant source of greenhouse gas and energy consumption
  • Eliminating meat altogether, sharply reducing meat intake, or cutting out red meat and fish can significantly reduce an individual’s carbon footprint
  • Challenge: Prepare/buy and eat meals (breakfast if applicable and lunch) that consist of vegetarian/vegan options, or are locally sourced from places with sustainable production practices

Takeout-Free Tuesday

  • Lunch can be a huge source of waste, with takeout containers contributing to greenhouse emissions both in terms of production and disposal.
  • Boston recently instituted a plastic grocery bag ban and a 5 cent charge for all disposable bags at stores and restaurants. Even though we’re outside the city limits, we should consider bringing our own carriers for bringing takeout back to the office.
  • Challenge: Pack a lunch from home in a reusable container, and bring reusable cutlery/utensils. Or, choose a lunch location that has recyclable or reusable takeout containers (and be sure to recycle or reuse them!).

What to Recycle Wednesday

  • There are lots of misconceptions about what is and isn’t okay to recycle – leading many people to throw garbage in with recycling, making recycling virtually useless.
  • However, recycling items from aluminum cans to glass or plastic bottles can decrease pollution and energy use by huge margins.
  • Challenge: Properly recycle your drink containers, food containers, extra papers, and other materials. If you’re “off-site” or “remote,” identify appropriate recycling receptacles at your work location. And don’t forget to properly rinse out your recyclable food containers before dropping them in the bin!!

Thirsty Thursday

  • Reusable coffee mugs or tumblers can break even with paper or Styrofoam cups after only 18 uses. And even if you can’t remember to bring it or can’t be bothered to keep them clean, many plastic beverage containers can be recycled.
  • Coffee as an industry also has a huge environmental impact, so choosing a coffee producer with sustainable practices can also make a difference.
  • Challenge: Bring your daily dose of caffeine in a reusable mug! Either make your own brews at home, or bring a reusable mug to your favorite coffee shop (both Dunks and Starbs offer incentives or discounts for bringing your own). And as a bonus, bring a reusable water bottle instead of using disposable or recyclable plastic bottles.

Forget the Plug Friday

  • Cutting down on electricity consumption is a common recommendation for sustainability at work (and home!). This can include a range of strategies, including turning off lights, speakers, and screens that are not in use and unplugging chargers that aren’t currently charging a device.
  • Challenge: Unplug the chargers and devices that aren’t in use, and unplug devices that are fully charged. Turn off or unplug speakers, monitors, and devices that aren’t being used, and turn off lights in rooms that aren’t being used.

Sustaining the Challenge

Our initial goal is one week, but we’re hoping to revisit these daily challenges on a regular basis. We’re also looking for more ways to reduce our impact.