Office kitchen and food
Fifty-five percent of all waste in the United States is discarded, 12.5 percent is incinerated, and only 32.5 percent is recycled. Offices and the commercial sector contribute 35 percent and 45 percent (respectively) of the total waste to landfills every year, a large percentage of which is paper, but also includes food scraps, plastics, glass, and tins. A good portion of this trash comes from disposable dishes, individually packaged food items like creamers, sugar, and coffee pods, and improper meal planning. Greening-up office kitchen waste includes reducing food waste, choosing reusable dishes, serve-ware, and utensils, and moving away from single-serving supplies.
Choosing reusable dishes and flatware as well as bulk food items can go a long way to cutting overall waste in the office kitchen. For instance, when the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce opted to serve food “family style” using large reusable trays and serving bowls rather than one-use, single-serving boxes for 40 weeks, it resulted in 600 fewer boxes going to the landfill. One Meeting Strategies Worldwide client saved an estimated $87,000 by choosing water pitchers over bottled water. Choosing bulk cream and sugar will cut costs for those products by 62 percent and 50 percent respectively.
Questions to get you started...
- Does the office buy snacks and/or other food for all employees? If so, do you have a policy for choosing bulk products (such as coffee, creamers, sugar, and soda) rather than individually-portioned items?
- Is your coffee purchased organic or Fair Trade Certified?
- Has your company participated or considered participating in a Community Supported Agriculture program for employees to receive local, seasonal produce?
- Does your office opt for environmentally preferable plates, cups, and utensils?
- For water consumption, does the company procure personal water bottles, bottle coolers, or tap water filters?